Piercing the Darkness of Scotland

Posted on April 28, 2013

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devin 1By David Ettinger

His days as a drug-addicted teenager from Longwood, Florida, have led him to the heroine-saturated streets of Fraserburgh, Scotland.

But there is one major difference: whereas Devin Brown once was steeped in his dark and desolate life of drugs, he is now bringing the hope of Jesus Christ to those who are trapped in that very same lifestyle.

“Fraserburgh [pronounced Fraserborough] is the worst city in Europe for heroine abuse per population,” Brown said. “One out of five people on the streets are addicted to heroine.”

That stronghold weighs heavily upon this fishing town of about 14,000 people in the extreme northeast corner of the United Kingdom.

“The people have had addictions for ten or fifteen years,” Brown continued. “People have blown out all the veins in their arms and feet and have resorted to shooting up in their groin and shaving their heads and shooting up in the veins in their head. It’s an awful condition to be in.”

And though Brown himself never quite sunk that low, he did get very close.

The son of longtime First Baptist Orlando members Doyle and Gail Brown, Devin’s problems began at age 13.

“When I was going through a time of trouble, my parents brought someone to come live with us who was living on the streets,” Brown recalled. “He turned out to be demon-possessed and involved in the occult. My parents now believe he left a demonic influence in the house.”

That influence attached itself to Brown.

“After the guy moved out, I moved into his room,” he recalled. “It was around then that I slowly started going downhill. My attitude changed. I began smoking cigarettes, and then moved on to marijuana.”

devin 2His self-destructive behavior continued throughout his teen years.

“By the time I was 18, my life was total chaos,” Brown said. “I wanted total control of my life and didn’t want any authoritative figures around. There was a huge void in my life and only drugs could fill it.”

He found himself filling that void daily.

“I could easily go through a case of beer a night,” he said. “I was smoking marijuana every day and doing acid. I was also a very violent person and had a big problem with anger. Every six months I would just explode. I never lost a fight.”

His behavior uncontrollable, his parents kicked him out of the house, and Brown went to live with his brother in Alabama. But it didn’t take long for him to overstay his welcome and move out.

“Things got even worse,” he said. “I got into heavier drugs and experimented with cocaine. I also experimented with ouija boards and opened my mind to other realms I never should have gotten into.”

He eventually got himself arrested, which further fueled his anger. He continued his downward slide until something happened on December 16, 1996.

“I woke up in the morning and decided to see if I could smoke [a large amount of cocaine] throughout the entire day just to see if I could do it,” Brown said. “By three o’clock [the next morning], I found that I could no longer breathe right.”

He looked in the mirror and saw that his eye – above the nostril in which he had been snorting cocaine – was black and blue, as was his chest.

“I was breathing very heavy and thought I was about to die,” Brown said. “I remember going to the center of the house, getting down on my hands and knees and asking God to take this away from me.”

In an instant, Brown felt a tingling sensation from his head to his toes as a profound peace came over him.

devin 3“I called my parents and told them that I was sorry for the life I had been living,” he said. “I wanted to let them know that if I didn’t make it through the night that I loved them.”

But he did make it.

“It seemed like that’s when God began to work out some things in my life.”

It would take a while. Though his days of drug abuse were over, Brown still struggled in other areas. In 2002, he did a very unusual thing. In an attempt to get away from the pressures of life, he moved into the Appalachian Mountains and stayed there for eight months reading his Bible and finding his way to God.

“I got a job and began attending church again,” he said. “I slowly started giving God everything in my life. I realized that I had never had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. But then He started revealing Himself to me, and it’s been the greatest experience of my life.”

After his hiatus in the mountains, he returned to Central Florida and started attending Northland Church. After five months, he heard about a number of mission trips the church was sponsoring. He went to a mission-recruiting day and wandered from booth to booth until one in particular caught his eye.

“It had the Saltire Flag [the St. Andrew’s cross],” he said. “I thought to myself, Is there a mission trip going to Scotland? I never understood why, but I always had a fascination with Scotland.”

He made a beeline for the booth.

“I asked the woman running it what I would be doing and she told me that I would be ministering to drug addicts,” Brown recalled. “All of a sudden it hit me why I always had that interest in Scotland. It was a desire God put within me for that country. Everything I had gone through in my life He allowed to happen to use me for this purpose.”

Brown’s first excursion to Scotland came in 2004. He was part of a twelve-person team whose main mission was to serve and minister to drug addicts.

“We made meals for them every night, took them bowling, and just sat with them and listened to their problems,” Brown said. “I remember the first day I went out and sought to build relationships with the community. I went into the Solid Rock Café and sat down with about four or five addicts and just ministered to them. The first opportunity I had to witness to someone, he understood and wanted to clean up his life. After I returned to Florida, I heard that he had gone on to rehab. He still struggles, but his brother went to rehab and then went on to serve the Lord.”

Brown was amazed by how God had used him to plant seeds for the kingdom. He asked Him if he should go into full-time mission work in Scotland.

“I said to the Lord, ‘I want to go back, but the only way I will go back is if Ben [the missionary director in Scotland] invites me.”

devin 4Within a month, Brown received an email from Ben inviting him back to Scotland.

“I thought, Nobody knew this prayer request except God, and He answered it to a ‘T.’

Brown was sold. He moved to Scotland in 2005 and now considers it his home. He returns to the U.S. every year to raise support.

In Scotland, Devin spends much of his time in the Solid Rock Café ministering to the needs of addicts and building relationships with them.

“I’m not just talking with people,” Brown said. “I challenge them to deal with their problems and realize they need help. Even if they don’t go to rehab, I still try to share the love of Christ in different ways.”

This includes being available to help them in any way possible as well as leading a Bible study.

“Just about every day I am helping to feed someone either physically or spiritually. I also work with prostitutes and heroin addicts in different communities.”

As far as receiving the Gospel, Fraserburgh is a pretty tough sell, Brown said.

“When the people are desperate, they are very open to the Gospel. But if they’re not desperate, they’re not open. The enemy definitely has a stronghold in the city. Churches have been converted into pubs. It’s tragic to see so much debauchery take place in buildings that used to be God’s temple. But I truly believe these buildings still are God’s temple.”

Living in such a dark spiritual climate is a challenge for Brown as he often finds himself battling discouragement.

“It can be very tough. In one year alone I lost eleven friends to heroine (overdose).”

But despite the gut-wrenching, soul-demoralizing setbacks, Brown can take comfort in knowing for sure that Fraserburgh is exactly where God wants him to be.

“There’s a book by John Piper called, Don’t Waste Your Life. When I’m in Scotland, I don’t feel that I am wasting my life. This is where I am making an impact for God’s eternal kingdom.”

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