The Heart of a President

by Sharyn Kopf- Cedarville, OH

No matter what anyone says, it’s really not that hard to figure out what motivates someone. Just pay attention to what they value and listen to what they say. That’s Gospel truth—both Matthew and Luke affirm these two ways to determine the heart of a man—as taught by Jesus himself. So, if we take both and apply them to Cedarville University President Dr. Bill Brown, what will we find?

What He Treasures
    What you treasure is usually pretty obvious—from the pictures you have sitting on your desk to the sports team colors that crowd your walls. Walk into Dr. Brown’s office and you will quickly surmise that he is a man of letters, who enjoys reading about heroes of the faith, supports Cedarville athletics and cherishes his family. You may also ascertain his passion for making a difference in the political world. But as you note various keepsakes and artifacts, it becomes apparent Dr. Bill Brown’s heart beats for international ministry.

    Matthew 6:21 and Luke 12:34 tell us “for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” For almost 30 years now, Dr. Brown has traveled the world, sharing his heart for God, educators and believers.

    It all started in 1979 with a trip to communist Poland, where Dr. Brown, a seminary student at the time, was invited by Campus Crusade for Christ to speak. He stayed for several months, talking to college students—mostly in rural areas, and away from authorities—on a Christian worldview. That would be merely the beginning.

    “I really had a heart for it,” he says. “Once you go overseas for the first time, you realize the world is a much bigger place.”
Still, it wasn’t until the early ’90s that Dr. Brown’s overseas ministry really took off. Within a few years, he was speaking all over the world as an ambassador for Christ. He’s been to the former Soviet block a dozen times, and enjoys talking to atheist educators.

    “The goal is not to argue but to converse,” he says. “God’s truth is very compelling.” In fact, many who came to one conference as atheists left five days later as Christians. Much of this is because Dr. Brown knows how to present a compelling case. He’s a man of intelligence … who speaks from the heart.

What He Says
    Columbo shined at it. He seemed to know who was guilty from the get-go. So did we, for that matter. The frumpy, cigar-smoking detective would ask a question, then stop talking. He would simply listen. Good detectives know, if you’re quiet enough, and let the suspect talk, chances are he’ll eventually hang himself. Fortunately, that works both ways. After all, you sure can find out a lot about a person by what they’re saying.

    The second half of Luke 6:45 and Matthew 12:34 share this vital observation: “For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.” Listening to Dr. Brown let’s you know, quite quickly, that he believes in education, and is passionate about truth and a Christian worldview.

    “Service opens the door to engagement.” So said Dr. Brown at a Cedarville chapel in November of 2005. And Dr. Brown is all about engaging his audience. When he speaks to atheists about biblical matters, he realizes what he is up against.

    “Many think Christianity is for old women and children—and no educated person would even consider it. You need to appeal to their intellect, not their emotion. But it does become emotional, as people begin to see the consequences of the choices they made.”

    In the summer of 2007, Dr. Brown spoke to Christian educators in Hungary and Romania, encouraging them to become involved—engaged in what is, to believers, an often hostile culture. Since the two countries have only had an “open society” since 1990, these educators are trying to deal with a flood of Western cultural and entertainment influences.

    “They struggle with teaching youth how to discern in that kind of media-saturated culture,” he says. “Especially since much of it is antagonistic toward God.”

    Upcoming trips include Switzerland, France and Germany in February, followed by Istanbul, Turkey, in April. Dr. Brown relishes the opportunity to see the world through God’s eyes, not to mention “raise awareness of Cedarville with significant people.

    Dr. Brown’s prayer is that he remain sensitive to God’s leading—exercising discernment as he determines which invitations to accept, which trips to take.

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    Cedarville friends can take heart, knowing that what this president treasures and what he says reflect a man who is truly seeking the Lord—yearning to become, when all is said and done, a man, not of his own making, but one who follows after God’s own heart.