Philippine Bible Society

The Young John Brown: Reader and Learner

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Article by Kito Espiritu (Guest Contributor)

 

A Rough Start

 

Young John had a tough childhood. He was born into a poor family that couldn’t even afford to send him to public school. He had less than a year of formal education, though he did learn to read. Then, when he was only 10, his father died of illness. Two years later, the same illness made him a full orphan.

 

Instead of drowning in his difficulties, though, John looked to God for answers, and at the age of 12, he earnestly began his walk with the Lord.

 

Plodding On

 

He was eventually hired by John Ogilvie, a shepherd, and an elder of the town church. The two developed a strong friendship. Ogilvie was godly and smart, but even less educated than John was. So while they were out in the mountains tending the sheep, Ogilvie would ask John to read the Bible to him, and they would pray and worship together.

 

John enjoyed working for Ogilvie, but he had a passion for learning that he longed to satisfy. There were huge obstacles in his path, though. Aside from his poverty and lack of education, his work took him into the mountains, far from any school. The town didn’t have a public library, either.

 

Many boys would have given up at this point, but not John. He borrowed books wherever he could find them. During his lunch breaks, he would walk five kilometers to be tutored by the local pastors. Through sheer determination and ingenuity, he learned Latin, Greek, and even some Hebrew!

 

By the time he was 16, he had finally saved enough to buy a Greek New Testament. Excitedly, he set out for the nearest book store, about forty kilometers away.

 

When he arrived and tried to buy the book, the store attendant skeptically replied, “What will you do with that book? You can’t read it!” Young John answered with characteristic humility, “I’ll try to read it.” They were suddenly interrupted by a professor from the nearby seminary, who had overheard the conversation. He took a copy of the Greek New Testament, threw it down on the counter, and said, “Boy, if you can read that book, you’ll have it for free.”

 

The professor probably thought he was calling young John’s bluff, but John wasn’t bluffing! He opened the book and read a passage. After recovering from shock, the professor made good on his word. The attendant had never seen a happier lad leave the store!

 

John Brown of Haddington (1722-87)

 

God may have placed many obstacles in young John’s path, but He also gave him the grace to overcome them. The boy eventually grew to become the renowned John Brown of Haddington, beloved pastor and one of the greatest scholars of the Presbyterian Church in the 18th century. The Lord used him in amazing ways not only because he was brilliant, but also because he was a man of character — humble, gentle, compassionate, and above all, godly.

 

Sources:

1. Robert MacKenzie, John Brown of Haddington.

__________________________________________

 

photo Kito Espiritu - Philippine Bible Society

About the Guest Contributor:

Kito Espiritu is a pastor-in-training, blogger, and musician. He currently serves in the youth ministry of their church in Quezon City.

 

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I am a Bible Ambassador because I believe that the Bible can help people a lot. And knowing the Bible, people come in touch with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Most Rev. Broderick Pabillo, D.D.
Most Rev. Broderick Pabillo, D.D.Apostolic Administrator, Achdiocese of Manila

Gusto kong makipag-fellowship sa kanila, masaya sa Philippine Bible Society kapag may mga (membership) meetings.  Gusto ko rin madagdagan knowledge ko... yung opportunity makapag.distribute ng Biblia sa maraming tao at magamit ako ng Panginoon. Pangatlo ay yung ma.bless din ako and be a blessing to many people.

Ptra. Dolores “Loy” Fulgencio
Ptra. Dolores "Loy" FulgencioAnnual PBS Member

It's an honor and a privilege for me to support the Philippine Bible Society - to reach out to the unreachable people by giving Bibles not only in the Philippines but the whole world.

Ptra. Nina Vergara
Ptra. Nina VergaraAnnual PBS Member

“It is a blessing to be able to support our local churches in need of Bibles and Bible study programs. It is our hope that they not only grow in terms of membership but also have the heart to extend spiritual help to others, just like how they have received help.”

Ptr. Callum TabadaUCCP Cosmopolitan Administrative Pastor (AACP benefactor)

“We are thankful since each individual now has a Bible. Our members will no longer have a hard time reading. Thank you also for the discipleship materials for these will help all in getting to know Jesus and to know how to be a better Christian.”

Ptr. Eric BulanteChurch Pastor, Shepherd's Church in Hills of Zion, Talim Island (AACP beneficiary)

“Philippine Bible Society organizes trainings that really respond to the needs of people who are suffering.
It has well-equipped leaders who facilitate trainings and workshops.
Its mission to reach out to Filipinos using God’s Word is fulfilled through its works.”

Miriam del RosarioExecutive director at The Birthright Educators Foundation

“I praise and thank our Almighty God that, through PBS, I now own a Poimen version of MBB (Magandang Balita Biblia) in the national language of the Philippines – Tagalog.
Knowing Matthew 10:32-33, I read and study the Bible so that I will not be dismayed when the Lord Jesus Christ comes. Life is too short compared with the promise of eternal life in God’s Kingdom.”

Jorge BianesLocal Church Elder at LJOR Unified Commonwealth

I think this is very helpful to every readers. The word of the Lord are the food of our soul which we always need every minute of our life. I dont often read the Bible but everytime i open it, God was always like in front of me and speaking as what is something i'm just needing to hear. He speaks to me and i can feel it. A million thanks to You my Lord.

CrisTin Bocar AtregenioHousewife, Stay-at-home parent

I love the ministry of the Philippine Bible Society in sharing the Word to the world. God bless PBS!

Ganni BanzueloScripture Marketing Officer at Philippine Bible Society