The reserve in Port Hardy, British Columbia where Kevin Brown, an Aboriginal member of the Gwa'sala-Nakwaxda'xw First Nation, grew up with his parents and six siblings, had more than its share of problems from alcohol, drugs and crime. Kevin’s parents did their best to keep their children away from these destructive influences. They taught their children at an early age to do what was right, but suffered persecution for it—for being good people. “They did it because they loved us and wanted us to have more opportunities than they did,” Kevin recalls.
Kevin’s grandparents often visited the Brown children at home. When they came, grandfather Frank Brown read from the Bible. Kevin stretched out on the floor and listened, even when the other children went off to play. Kevin’s grandparents became a great source of learning for him. “That is where I learned to be patient and keep the commandments,” Kevin said. “Grandfather Brown is one of the biggest reasons that I am what I am.”
At age eighteen, Kevin joined the Pentecostal church and enjoyed it, but he felt that something was missing. He yearned to know what it was. He sought help from his pastor, who understood Kevin’s longing, but provided no answers. Kevin’s parents decided to remove their children from the destructive influences in their community and so moved the family from the reserve on Vancouver Island to Nanaimo and then in 2013 to Surrey. “They regretted having to raise us in Port Hardy,” Kevin recalls, “but I think that I was supposed to grow up there [on the reservation]; otherwise, I wouldn’t know what I know today.”
Kevin met with the missionaries again. He learned about the plan of salvation, pre-mortal life and the kingdoms of glory. Because he felt the Spirit, he kept meeting with the missionaries, though the new concepts felt sort of “strange” to him at first. The missionaries challenged him to pray, to “test the waters”. Kevin read the first few chapters of the Book of Mormon. He tried to prove its truthfulness logically. “Could Joseph Smith have written this himself? No, this needed divine revelation,” he concluded. Then Kevin decided to take a spiritual approach. In a huge leap of faith, he prayed about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. “Is this book true?” he asked. “Yes, it is true,” came the answer.
Although his family has since decided to move back to Vancouver Island, Kevin remained in Surrey to build his testimony—another leap of faith. Blessings followed that faith. Loving ward members helped him get a job. He learned more about the gospel. “The faithfulness of my friends in the Church kept me going,” Kevin says. “Their good example really helped me.” As his testimony grew, Kevin accompanied the ward missionaries and frequently shared his witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon with others.
Two weeks after his baptism, Kevin received the Aaronic Priesthood. Soon he accepted a call to be the Sacrament coordinator in the Fraser Valley YSA branch. Kevin takes this calling seriously. The more he hears the words of the Sacrament prayers, the more he is aware that each word, each action, means something. Now he also teaches all the new Aaronic Priesthood candidates how to administer and pass the Sacrament.
“He is such a humble and genuine man and his biggest and greatest desire his whole life has been to love and serve God” Elder Crowell says. “At first, some people made fun of me and tried to get me to do things that I knew I shouldn’t do, but eventually they saw who I was and now we can talk about the gospel,” Kevin says. “I can be a missionary by being a good example.”
Of his First Nation heritage and the Book of Mormon, Kevin says, “There were people living here in Christ’s time and the Book of Mormon shows that God didn’t want to leave anyone out. I came to trust the Church because God showed me there are good people out there. I tell my First Nation brothers and sisters ‘Don’t be afraid to ask God, pray and reach out to others.’”