Sharing Jesus Onstage
When the Sunday Morning Gathering in the Old Barn in Renfro Valley ends, Mission Service Corps missionary Vola Brown steps onto the historic stage. He is flanked by posters of Renfro Valley founder John Lair and music stars, Red Foley and Rosemary Clooney.
Since 2002, Brown, an ordained minister since 1975, has held a worship service for the tourists who attend the shows at Renfro Valley. Over 200,000 folks from many states and other countries visit Renfro Valley each year. Brown and his wife, Jeanne, who plays keyboard, invite campers by passing out handbills on Saturday afternoon. During the summer, 80-150 people attend the services.
“My first drawing to Renfro Valley probably came in the fall of 2000,” Brown said. By Palm Sunday, 2003, the little church in the Renfro Village could no longer hold the services so they moved inside the Old Barn. “The entertainers are very supportive of this ministry,” he said. “Some of them have participated in the services by singing or playing a musical instrument.”
“Most people are very receptive and appreciative and many of them tell us they are thankful the worship service is here for them. Several people have raised their hands indicating they invited Jesus into their hearts. I pray with them and encourage them to get into a good church and follow the Lord in baptism when they get back home.”
As Renfro Valley Chaplain, Brown’s duties also include ministering to the various needs of the entertainers and employees. “I have visited the hospital and the funeral home and even performed a wedding ceremony for one of the employees.” One night, he was asked to introduce a gospel group, “The Inspirations,” when they were in concert in Renfro Valley. Another night, Brown and Jeanne helped serve a meal to 1,500 people who attended Christmas in the Valley.
Additionally, Brown has opened different events at Renfro Valley with prayer. He is also available for counseling calls from the Renfro Valley Entertainment Center and the local truck stop.
With a quiet, gentle ma
nner, Vola Brown is making a difference in Renfro Valley. “Many of the tourists are only here one time, but we have the opportunity to share Jesus with them,” he said. “God’s blessings are abundant!”