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The Ever-Widening Circle

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Through his years of service to the work of the gospel, A. B. Simpson had a direct impact on the lives of many as he discipled them in their ministries. R. R. Brown was one of these men. R. R. Brown knew A. B. Simpson because he graduated from Nyack College and A. B. had given him his first ministry assignment in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. R. R. worked closely with A. B. for many years in ministry, often acting as A. B.’s worship leader. R. R.’s interactions with A. B. gave him a deep desire to see lost people find hope and joy in Jesus.

In a sermon in January 1948, “The Power of a Great Experience,” R. R. said this of A. B.:

“We have chosen tonight to think of a man, a preacher-poet, a hymnist, and an inspiration to the Church of Jesus Christ to take new spiritual frontiers. [ . . . This is] only a rightful tribute to one who under God made a great contribution to the religious life of the whole world. And out of this we learn basic lessons and become aware of our responsibility to the great heritage that was left to us by A. B. Simpson. [. . .]

The moment that I come into the environment even through memories of this great personality, my emotions almost go out of bounds. I lament the fact that many of our men in our own society did not know him personally. It was my joy and privilege to have him as a counsellor and a teacher and then be honored very distinctly for years to work by his side in his own great conferences at Old Orchard, Maine; New York City, and then share with him in other conferences of our society. I have heard him preach at the height of all of his glorious public ministry; I saw the shades of night begin to gather around and over his intellect and his health decline and then on that day tearfully and with broken hearts I was asked and honored to conduct the service of song at his funeral and final tribute in the city of New York. I had him take me in his arms and for over 20 minutes pour out his heart in intercession for my life and its future.”

A. B. Simpson’s influence on R. R. Brown is evident. R. R. spent 50 years of ministry service with the C&MA from 1911 to 1961. During those years he filled many different roles—from church planter to radio host to C&MA district superintendent. His radio show, “World Radio Chapel,” reached as many as 500,000 people every Sunday for 41 years. And in 1921, he became the founding pastor of Omaha (Neb.) Gospel Tabernacle, now Christ Community Church C&MA, a congregation of more than 5,000.

R. R. Brown’s heart for missions work led him to travel to 26 countries in 25 years on missionary trips, including Ecuador, West Africa, Japan, the Philippines, India, Israel, Jordan, Switzerland, France, Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Peru. He even established the Missionary Rally at Council that we still perform to this day. One missionary in Japan said, “His work is ever multiplied in the ever-widening circle as we return to our places revived and encouraged by his ministry.”

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