08 Apr

Alex Brown - Mr Reliable Retires Following Many Years of Outstanding Service

Alex Brown, known to many of us as “Mr Reliable” has finally called it a day and retired from his long and successful season of ministry here at Whitewell. 

And what a loss he is to all of us?. Alex will be missed by his colleagues and everyone at Whitewell, and we wish both him and his wife Myrtle every blessing for the future. 

Last Sunday, April 7, Alex and Myrtle, were presented with a certificate and gift in recognition of Alex’s remarkable 35 years’ service to God and the people of Whitewell. 

A visitation pastor from 1984, when both he and Charlie Purse entered the ministry together, Alex, who will be 82 in May says he was shocked yet touched by the recent presentation to mark his years of service. Even the sight of his daughter Sandra and his grandsons Nathan and Craig, who both attend our youth, failed to alert Alex about the special presentation.

 “I knew nothing about it, and the truth is it was a well-kept secret, but when it happened I was very emotional and moved by the gesture. To have my family there was the icing on the cake,” says Alex.

Of course, it was the least our church could do for a man who has visited more homes and hospitals than most of us have had hot dinners. He admits “I could never recall all the people I’ve visited, but safe to say I have covered most of the greater Belfast area and many other parts of the province during my time in the ministry at Whitewell.” 

Known also as “the Quiet Man”, for his few words, there’s more to Alex than meets the eye. For example, starting at Clifton Street Baptist Church in Belfast, Alex was already saved and filled with the Holy Spirit before arriving at Whitewell back in 1978. At first, his wife Myrtle was afraid to accompany him to the church because she had heard people spoke in tongues, something the couple hadn’t experienced.   

Recalls Myrtle “I remember sitting in the car outside the church and telling Alex to drive on, but he encouraged me to get out of the car, and it was the best decision ever. We were only there a short time when Alex stood up and spoke in tongues, but I wasn’t afraid, because we knew God was in the midst.”

Alex agrees “Coming from a Baptist background was initially intimidating for us, but once Myrtle and I were inside Whitewell the presence of God was so real, we didn’t return to our former church. The minister had tried to get us to stay, but it was too late because the Lord had told me to go to Whitewell.”

Alex says that voice has spoken to him on many occasions, especially regarding where to live. He was going to move to Bangor nearly 50 years ago when he believes God intervened and sent him to Glengormley and the couple still live there today.

It wasn’t long before Alex encountered his first major challenge at Whitewell. Offered a promotion and well-paid job, it meant he would have to work on Sunday, but he didn’t want to miss the services. He even sought the advice of Pastor McConnell who told him the decision was between him and the Lord.

Recalls Alex “I didn’t know what to do, but the voice of God spoke again to me and said, “They that honour me I will honour.”

Alex obeyed the Spirit and promptly declined the offer of the job and, despite going through some lean times after that, was ultimately given the highest form of promotion – a door into God’s work in 1984 where he remained until last week.

Also, our Sunday School Superintendent for 25 years, Alex insists his greatest ever memory at Whitewell was the King’s Hall outreaches back in the 1980s.

“The sight of all the buses lined up and thousands flocking to the venue was something none of us at that time will ever forget. It was a move of God which seemed to go on and on. Most revivals last for 2-3 years, but this one just kept going for years,” maintains Alex.

Meanwhile, He believes Whitewell and its ministry received Divine favour during what was known as the era of the Northern Ireland troubles. “People just came and sat outside the church and didn’t know why they were there. It was the Spirit drawing them to hear the Word of God, a remarkable period for all of us who lived through it”, claims Alex.  

Although initially sceptical, he has used the gift of tongues on many occasions throughout the past 41 years at Whitewell, as well as his great ministry of prayer, something recognised in the early days by Pastor James Forsythe. The pastor once told him “Alex, you have a rare gift – the gift of prayer,” a statement which proved accurate as Alex has brought heaven down to earth on many a Monday and Friday evening at Whitewell. 

Asked what he will do with his time now that he has officially retired from the work of God, he joked “I will put my feet up, but still call in from time to time to check that everything is alright in the board room.” 

Obviously, you can take the man out of the ministry, but not the ministry out of the man!