It was such an honor to join together with John Brown University for their annual Founder’s Day celebration this past week, commemorating the rich history that joins our two institutions. Founded in 1919 by John E. Brown, JBU celebrates their 98th anniversary this year and honors the birthday of their founder through this annual celebration.
But what is that rich heritage we share, you may wonder? It was through the ministry of The Salvation Army that John Brown came to know Christ. Brown attributes The Salvation Army with his conversion after they put on a revival meeting May 15, 1897 in Rogers, Arkansas.
John Brown, 1897
After a long day at work, Brown was at a café with some friends when he heard the beating drum of The Salvation Army minister calling those in the city to his open-air meeting. Though not the first time he had heard this summons, that night, Brown was intrigued and followed the minister. Brown would later recall:
“…on the night of May 15, 1897, I made the decision that has so wonderfully changed my life. I am lost in wonder, and to this day, I cannot explain nor do I understand the wonderful workings of God.”
After, Brown not only joined The Salvation Army as a staff worker but moved to Siloam Springs, where he set up an outpost. Brown later left his post with The Salvation Army to pursue full-time, traveling evangelism, and would eventually come to found Southwestern Collegiate Institute – what is now known as John Brown University.
Through the years, this institution has impacted thousands of young lives and multiplied the message of the gospel. It is this foundational groundwork that the present-day members of The Salvation Army of NWA and John Brown University celebrated.
Major Dan Matthews and John Brown III spoke for the student body at the chapel assembly followed by a short reception. We were able to present this print to the university, an image of William Booth (founder of The Salvation Army) in his early ministry, in honor of the evangelistic work of John E. Brown’s early years of ministry.
“We are so grateful for the mission of JBU and for the crucial role that The Salvation Army was able to play early in John E. Brown’s life. God’s work is always multiplied- he causes it to remain”. -Major Dan Matthews
We truly believe that God worked through The Salvation Army to mold a young John E. Brown, who would later help mold the hearts and minds of thousands of young men and women through John Brown University.