Missionaries return to the town they once called home
You can come home again, even if it is before Old Home Week.
Alan and Whitney Brown were in Greencastle July 8-12, visiting longtime friends and sharing plans for their future. The two are missionaries in Greece, serving through United World Mission. Their beginning dates back to Greencastle over 20 years ago.
The Browns attended Calvary Bible Church from August 1990 to August 1992. They did experience Old Home Week that last year, remembering the parade. It wasn’t far from their second story apartment on the first block of North Carlisle Street.
Alan served as youth pastor associate intern at Calvary. The church was pastored by founder Glen Miller. The Browns’ oldest daughter Amber was born during that time. By 1995 they were in Greece, with second daughter Sierra in tow. Nadia was born overseas.
Alan and Whitney, both 46, met at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. They went on a missions trip to Greece, and felt drawn to the location. Calvary had contacted the school seeking an intern, and that’s how the Florida and Illinois natives, respectively, ended up in Pennsylvania.
When they later arrived in Greece through another organization, they spent three years learning the language. They worked in Thessalonica until 2010, then moved to Athens. Alan works with Greek and non-Greek pastors to help the leaders, through a Christian network, better reach the essentially 98 percent of the population that does not attend church. He has also ministered to gypsies.
Whitney works with young women who are trafficked in prostitution. “We get their trust, because they have already been betrayed, and encourage them to go to a shelter,” she said. “Then, if they ask, we help them return to their home countries.”
On furlough for a year, the Browns stayed in Wisconsin, and have been visiting the eight churches that financially assist them.
“We need the rest,” said Alan. “We visit our supporters, and we are also raising new support.”
Due to Greece’s economic crisis of the past four years, the Browns’ expenses have seen a huge increase.
“We knew we had to come home, and with God’s help, will go back to Greece after He has provided all of our support,” Alan continued. They hope that will be by mid-September.
During the respite, Sierra and Nadia were able to experience an American school for the first time. Amber has been atteding college in the states.
“This is our third home,” said Alan.
They stayed with Gary and Nancy Gembe, who they met the first time around as young college grads.
“Immediately they took us under their wing,” Alan reminisced.
Through the years they kept in touch with other friends, including John Statler, who helped with the youth group. Chris and Jill Hastings were among close acquaintances, and others have moved away or died. The visitors attended the funeral of Erma Harshman, who was also a founding member of Calvary.
The couple is interested in the paths taken by members of their youth group, but have more contact with the parents. The kids have scattered.
“We got really attached to the youth here,” said Whitney.
One boy, David Forney, became a missionary pilot, and has traveled extensively in that service.
Alan admitted that though they lived in Greencastle for only two years, “It is in our blood.”
They found that to be true in another way as well.
A cousin of Whitney, doing genealogical research, recently discovered that Whitney’s great-great-great grandfather once lived in the big stone house on Hoffman Road. The couple drove past it to get a picture.
As the Browns continue their travels, they welcome financial and prayer support from churches and individuals. People may participate through www.uwm.org