Randy Brown thought God was calling him to overseas mission work, maybe in Thailand. But it turned out that the call was to Fort Worth and one of the city’s most historic, culturally diverse and poorer neighborhoods.
“I ended up finding a bus map in the library downtown, so I drove the Como bus route,” Brown, a family practice doctor, says. “It just felt like the right place for me to be. It has a lot of really neat history and some really good people who have been there a long time, and it’s a place with a clear identity about who it is, and it’s in a position to where it can make a big difference.”
Brown and his family moved into Como in 2006. That year, he and others started Opportunity Camp Como, a week-long Christian summer camp for the students of Como Elementary. “We really started working with kids to mentor kids, to raise them up as leaders in the community. We started specifically to change the Como neighborhood. The goal is to invite those kids and their families to transform the community,” Brown said.
In 2011, B.U.R.N. Ministries, of which he is chair of the board, formed with the mission to build, unite and restore neighborhoods. The non-denomination faith-based organization is sponsoring an appearance by New York Times best-selling author Bob Goff on October 16 at Ashton Depot as a fundraiser. Goff, who wrote Love Does, is an attorney and founder of Restore International, a nonprofit human rights organization operating in Uganda, India and Somalia.
“He is just a guy who authentically loves people well,” Brown said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for him. I think he’s a person who not only will people want to hear, but who also will encourage people to live lives that are just passionately caring about other people.” To reserve tickets, visit: tinyurl.com/BURN-Goff.
B.U.R.N. is Christian-focused but non-dominational. “There are folks from lots of different churches working together, and even people who probably don’t go to church as well,” Brown said. “But we’re Christian.”
That first year, Brown began working with 10 boys he called Dr. Brown’s Mighty Men, and he has continued with those and a few others, and other groups have since been formed. Brown says the results have been varied, but there have been great successes.
One of the original Mighty Men, Corey Boone, graduated last year from Abilene Cooper High School and “is going to Abilene Christian on a full-ride scholarship. Last time I talked to him, he was pre-med. He’s a great kid, really good character and leader,” Brown said.