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This is Landen’s Story of Hope.  When he was a sophomore in high school our church at the time was doing a program called “Stories of Hope”.  It was a great program in which the church had asked members to submit a story of hope that Christ had provided in their lives.  This is what Landen submitted.  His story was read on stage by his father that year:

“Just about 3 ½ years ago I experienced one of the greatest challenges I have been faced with.  It started toward the end of my 6th grade.  The bullying and harassment started off “soft” or “silent”.  I remember my 6th grade teacher telling my parents he thought I was too sensitive.  As the years went by it got more serious.  Ethnic name calling was their specialty and finally it progressed to physical threats and a trip to the hospital.  The “ethnic” name calling that you are imagining if you times that by 10 it’s still not close to what I was called.  Some of my teachers called them “racial slurs”, my mom calls them “purposlurs”.  But my dad and I refer to them as derogatory words.  Whatever you want to call them they were inappropriate.

After school each day I would come home and my parents would ask how was school, like every other parent would, but the responses were rarely good.  Whenever I would leave for school they would say have a good day and in return I would come up with a smart comment like, “I’ll try” or “Yeah good luck with that” or “Why is so-and-so going to gone today?”  The three of us feared what was going to happen.  The worst part about it was that I couldn’t defend myself.  Still to this day I am not very big but I have more confidence now than I did then.  So then when I would walk my sister home I was afraid as to what I would do if someone did something to harm me or try to threaten my sister for that matter.  So I would pray that kids would leave me alone when I walked home.  Most days my prayers were answered.

I looked forward to the weekends when I was just at home doing my own thing and even then I didn’t feel safe being outside.  The bullying progressed to the point of my parents having to call the police three times the last semester of my 8th grade.  It didn’t help much when the police officer always on the case is related to one of the harassers.  It actually just made it worse.  I remember talking to the principal with on of the bullies and the principal said, “Landen, are you sure you just didn’t perceive them calling you the “n” word wrong.  They say they were just joking.  Maybe you took that too seriously.”  After that I knew I couldn’t trust my teachers or principal.  My parents and I had another meeting with the principal and mom asked at what time was the school going to become proactive about the racial tones. So the school instituted a “Non-discrimination” class.  This sounds good doesn’t it, but not when you are the only black kid in the class and then it made it worse.  The kids found ways to harass me “legally” by saying things like, “Landen is it discrimination for me to call you this…” you can fill in the blanks and the teachers were not equipped to help me so they did nothing.

After that I was scared, sad and angry with God because I thought that I was a good person and why did He let me be fearful every day?  Why did he let me be humiliated every day? Why did he let these kids treat met like crap?  Pastor Bob did a message on bad things happening to good people.  God knew I needed to hear that, but he said something my parents always told me.  That God has a plan for me and what I was going through was not my purpose but to be used as something later.  This started to make sense.  I knew there was hope and that is what I held onto.  I was hoping I wouldn’t have to endure the harassment much longer.  As a family we would pray for guidance and answers.

One night when my parent got home from another meeting with the principal they sat me down and said no matter what I was not going to go to their high school.  They said even if I wasn’t allowed to go to another high school I would be homeschooled.  I felt so relieved.  My parents applied for the open enrollment and we didn’t get an answer for a long time.  I kept praying that God would stop this, I really wanted to go to BHS because some of my friends from the 5th grade were going there and some of my youth group friends were going there and I knew that even if I was going to be picked on I would still have the support those good friends and it wouldn’t be as bad.  Finally one day my parents handed me a letter, it was from the superintendent of Burlington School District and it said he would be more than happy to have me as a student at BHS.  I knew God answered my prayers and I was so thankful.


Recently I made it on the basketball team and the first game against my former classmates was coming up and I was excited to get some playing time against them.  My mom said, “Landen pray about it but ask God to remove all your anger and search yourself.  God will not bless revenge.”  So I prayed about it and the day came.  The coach put me in and I was matched up against one of the biggest instigators and I got two shots off of him and a couple of rebounds.  We won the game and it felt awesome.  On a side note we won the second match up too.  God allowed me to show them they didn’t break me and they don’t have any power over me.  God also has given me the eye to witness the silent bullying and I try to be the friend that I wish I had when I see it happening.

I would not want to go through those 2 ½ years ever again but I think I see a little bit of His purpose now.  Because just like in Romans 5 “I also glory in my sufferings, because I know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character and character hope.  And hope does not put us to shame.:


Landen Brown”


When he was a junior in high school one of the bully’s from the 8th grade happened to attend one of the musical performances Landen was in.  It was a surprise to the former bully and after the performance he came up to Landen and apologized to him.  He said he didn’t realize what he was doing and he was glad he saw him that night so he could apologize to him in person.   Landen forgave him and thanked him for apologizing.


Landen was 20 years old when he died and he kept the hope he found at a young age.   We have made that hope our mission: We carry on Landen’s serving heart to inspire hope and transform lives.

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