Life & Times : Bernal Brown laid to rest
"Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not."
Those were the opening words of Leonie Grey, while delivering the eulogy for Bernal Brown, her grandfather, at his thanksgiving service held at the Cobbla New Testament Church of God in Manchester last Saturday.
In front of a large gathering, which spilt over into the yard of the church, mourners received a clear picture of who Brown, aka Bobsie, Evangelist, Bredda Brown, Fatman, and Porter really was.
Brown was born to Noel Brown and Vera Salmon-Brown on March 14, 1947. He and his siblings attended church every Sunday morning at the Mount Olivet United Church.
"He was always the one chosen to read the Bible for his mother and grandmother," said Grey.
Brown was schooled at the Mount Olivet Primary School and Zorn Moravian School before leaving school at age 14.
He started to do farming and then got a job at the Percy Junior Hospital as a relieving porter for three years before being employed as a full-time worker within the same department.
"Hard work, commitment, knowledge of his job and interest placed in it earned him the position of chief orderly," said Grey. 'Porter Brown', as many called him, served in that position for 35 years and in 1995, he was recognised for long service to the health department before he retired in 2007.
Brown met, fell in love with, and married Patricia Bonner. The union produced three children, Leonie, Stacey-Ann, and Milton.
Grey said that her grandfather was an ardent churchman and devoted Christian who accepted the Lord at age 15 and started preaching at that same age.
"He loved the Lord, and many would see Bernal hurrying to church services and carrying out other work for Him. He did some of this service when he worshipped at the City Mission Church in Sedburgh, Christiana, during the 1980s. He later went to the Cobbla New Testament Church of God in December 1994 and served there as an evangelist," said Grey.
Brown preached in several crusades, tent meetings, conventions, and Sunday morning services. It is said that many persons came to know the Lord under his ministry.
Mourners were also told that the late evangelist served as Sunday School superintendent and teacher even during his illness.
His hard work and dedication to the work of God earned him a mission's award from his church for distinguished service in the field of evangelism and Sunday school ministries in 2016.
"Anyone who knew my grandpa knows of his generosity, work ethic, humility, and selflessness. Whatever Grandpa was involved in, he made sure that it was done the right way. He never cut corners and always made sure others were happy," said Grey.
On Tuesday, April 18, at 11 a.m., just after an officer of the church prayed for him while in the Percy Junior Hospital, with family members and friends at his bedside, Brown uttered "On Jordan stormy bank I stand, amen." He then closed his eyes and took his last breath.
Brown is survived by his widow Patricia, eight children, two adopted daughters, three stepdaughters, seven grandchildren, four brothers, and other relatives.
His body was laid to rest at the family plot in Cobbla.