When Paul and Christie Brown moved into a less than desirable neighborhood in Elkins, West Virginia, they didn’t know that their home would become a magnet for young people.
I’ve always been youth focused, says Paul,
so when the neighborhood kids wanted to hang out with our kids at the house, we said,
OK, but there are rules:
- Respect. You will treat yourself and others respectfully, with no swearing and no name calling.
- No lying. You lie to me, and it’s done–you are out the door.
- Health/Dietary issues–no drugs, no alcohol, no unclean meat.
Once the young people understood about clean and unclean foods, they tried sharing what they had learned with their families.
The grandfather would be cooking a groundhog, says Paul,
but the kids would tell him,
No! We’re not going to eat that!
Before long, the visitors were asking to move in with the Browns.
Brayden spends every weekend at our house, says Paul.
It’s his Sabbath retreat, and gets him away from his house.During the week Brayden tries to avoid his abusive alcoholic step-father as much as possible.
Hunter and Wyatt are two others who spend more time with the Browns than at home. Both coming from difficult situations, the boys feel safe with Paul and Cindy, whom they consider to be their surrogate parents.
I try to treat all the kids as if they’re my kids, says Paul,
because they deserve a chance, too.That includes providing clothing, bicycles, and various other items.
Even the vehicle I drive–an extended cab truck–is based on how many kids we’re looking after, so we can take them to and from school.
With parental permission, the Browns have taken Brayden and Hunter with them to Pathfinders and to church, and are even paying for them to attend the local Adventist church school. Unfortunately, Wyatt’s mother will not give permission for him to join in these activities, but for Brayden and Hunter, their experience has been life changing. On November 2, 2013, both boys, along with the Browns’ son, Payton, were baptized at the Elkins Seventh-day Adventist Church.
We’ve been living here for three years now, Paul says,
and my wife really feels that the Lord put us in this neighborhood. It’s not where we would have chosen, but we are sure that the Lord led us here.