This year’s Young Alumni of the Year award will be given to a husband and his wife. Two young alums will be honored for their dedication and sacrifice to a local neighborhood in Fort Worth.
Dr. Randy Brown and Anda Brown are married and live in one of the worst places in Fort Worth. Randy Brown decided, after years of meditating with God and talking to his wife, to dedicate himself to a life of full-time ministry to teach and minister to children, including seven of theirs, in the Como neighborhood.
According to ACU Alumni Association, Randy and Anda were high school sweethearts that met again on campus. Randy, who was a pre-med major, and Anda, an English education major, married one semester before Randy’s graduation in May and Anda’s in August, December, 1993.
Randy’s dream of being a doctor stuck with him since the age of five, when his mother said the family needed a doctor.
He always had a calling towards ministry, Anda said.
“When he talked about missions, I thought he was crazy,” she said. “I really wanted the typical doctor lifestyle. Thankfully, God had other plans.”
While in school, Randy and Anda participated in many Spring Break Campaigns. One trip to Romania had the biggest impact on Randy. He said he felt a strong calling from God to quit medical school and focus on ministry.
When Randy revealed his plans to Anda, she said, “We had been married six months, so that was unsettling.”
On a month-long mission trip to Togo, West Africa in 2000, Randy felt the calling again to do missions full-time. However, the couple was not in agreement. The family moved a lot because of Randy’s practice in residency, and they joined the Christ Fellowship Church in Grapevine.
The Browns settled into a nice home with their three children. They had everything going for them, but Randy did not feel complete.
On a weekend trip to Dallas, Randy was reading a book and praying and came to a revelation.
“I felt clearly the Lord said stay in Fort Worth for the next 15-20 years to build a ministry to the poor at Christ Fellowship,” he said.
Randy was instructed to visit the Como area. There he spent a few days interacting with the people to find out what the community needed. He learned his ministry should begin with children.
As such the B.U.R.N. (Building, Uniting, and Restoring Neighborhoods) ministry was created. Randy worked with the boys while Anda worked with the girls.
Randy named the boys “Dr. Brown’s mighty men” and promised them, “I’m going to stick with you guys until you graduate from high school and go to college.”
The Browns opened their home to all of the children, and their colleagues dubbed their home the happiest house in the world.
Randy said Anda kept him grounded and focused. The couple had a sense of rhythm that complimented each other.
“It’s been very tough,” Randy said. “I really love these guys. They’re like sons to me. I still have faith that all of them are going to make it.”
Craig Fisher, director of alumni relations and annual projects, has overseen the process of picking the awardees this year.
The Browns, who will receive the Young Alumnus award, and Rick Atchley, Outstanding Alumnus of the Year, will be honored on the Sunday of Sing Song weekend, Feb. 16 at 12:30 p.m.
Normally, the event is hosted at the Hunter Welcome Center, but because of this year’s recipients, more people are expected to attend. The event will take place in the Teague Special Events Center.
The alumni relations office is in charge of the awards that are handed out each year. Picking who would receive the awards is an ongoing process year-round.
“Anyone can nominate potential award winners,” Fisher said. “There’s a link on the website. Anyone can go in and nominate.”
Those who want to nominate an alumnus are not limited to a certain group of people.
“Faculty, students, everyone is welcomed, “he said.
After a set number of alumni are put together, an internal vetting process begins.
“We go through and vet candidates internally,” Fisher said. “Then other leaders on campus are invited to go through the process.”
The list will be vetted and sent to the Alumni Advisory Board of 36 alumni from all over the United States. Their responsibility is to vote for the Outstanding and Young Alumnus Award.
“The Browns are an amazing couple,” Fisher said. “Young alums that have gone to Fort Worth and done something together.”
He said the board decided that it is important that they honor Randy and Anda together. What the couple have decided to do in the structure of their family and their mission to live in the Como community has inspired many.
“It takes both of them to do what they are doing,” Fisher said. “They’ve got seven children they are raising themselves, as well as opening their home to the community to come and to learn and to be a part of a faith journey there and opportunities. And Anda plays a big role in that as they tutor, teach, mentor and work with the youth in the area.”
The event will have speakers to talk on the couple’s behalf. One of them is a young man who has been part of Randy’s mighty men and others who have worked with the Browns.
Fisher crossed paths with the Browns while studying at ACU.
“It’s fun for me to be able to see people who I was in school with do amazing things in the world,” he said. “To see the growth in the Browns, where they began in ACU and now where they are at, is very inspiring.”
Many friends and family are attending the event to honor the alumni for their achievements. President Phil Schubert will be presenting the awards.
“Our office loves this event for the university because it allows us to give honor where honor is due,” Fisher said.