Crossing the Double Yellow Line

As I drove along in my car I knew that today would be an easy day.  All I had to do was travel another 30 minutes and I would surprise Aaron, a Peruvian musician recording in Cayambe, Ecuador.  It was his birthday.  I would take he and the other two guys out to eat and make it special for them even though they were far from home.

There was a gas truck going so slow up the hill that three cars in front of me passed it on the corner, and I followed behind.  When I came to the corner, crossing back in front of the gas truck, I noticed that the dotted yellow line was now a double yellow line  (NO PASSING ALLOWED).  I quickly slowed down in front of the gas truck, just as I heard a guy honking his horn.  He was very angry.  I pulled over so he could pass me, but he was dressed in a Colonel uniform and motioned for me to follow him to the police station, the police had a body camera on it, so everything would have been recorded and registered.

When we got to the police station, the Colonel made it clear that they were to put me in jail for what I did, passing over the double yellow line.  He threatened to put the two policemen in jail if the did not put me in jail.  He copied my information and said, “I will check tonight to see if you put this man in jail.”

The jail was filled with about 60 people in one big room with 30 bunk beds.  I had to pay $20 for a bed, and quickly did as I saw that the beds were filling up fast.  I was able to get to know others who were there, mostly from drinking and driving, or driving without a license.  I played cards with the guys and spent a lot of time reading, writing and praying.

My devotions that day were from Romans 12.  I sat on my bunk and read it with different eyes.  All of it brought on new meaning:  “Don’t think of yourself higher than you ought…”  and many other verses that stuck out in my mind.  It talks about us being the body of Christ with different gifts.  I decided right away to sacrifice things right in jail.  Every meal I got, I made sure I shared half of it with someone else (food is not provided for you in jail in Ecuador, you have to find family or friends that will provide it for you.

Miracles happened as the lawyers worked the system to try to get me out.  They knew that my wife and son were in Canada visiting her parents, and I was supposed to be taking care of my other three kids.

We went to the hearing, and on the way the policeman that had to accompany us said, “that same Colonel put me in jail for sitting down for five minutes on the job.  I had been standing for 7 hours straight.”  I said, “you know what, God put me in jail, not the Colonel.”  I had learned that God was doing something in me and in the men around me.

God worked another miracle as the secretary that took down my information said, “I am also evangelical.  I go to the Alliance Church in the Valley.”  I said, “Really!  My parents helped start the mother church to that one.”  We started talking about all of the pastors we had had known.  She heard my story and said, “You will be back with your kids tonight.”   The man that was to sign all the papers also attends the church in the valley.  My lawyers mouth dropped open.   He was not a Christian, but said, “even with all of my contacts to try to get you out, you were supposed to serve 15 more working days.  But who would have thought that God would help us out today?”

I was only in jail three days.  I got home and had a party at our house, I got the best event planner from just for this.  There were two women from the womens prison in Quito who were out on bail, who were baptized right in our apartment complex. We celebrated together.  I didn’t say a word about my three days in jail.  These women had been in prison for years.

Sometimes leaders, like Jonah, need to be taught a lesson.


Rich was born in Ecuador to missionary parents (Milton and Patricia Brown). He graduated from the Alliance Academy, where he met his wife Elisa Shannon (daughter of missionaries from Argentina, Jack and Jean Shannon). Both graduated from Toccoa Falls College. Rich graduated with a degree in Missiology. Rich and Elisa were married in 1990, and less than a year later, moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, where Rich served as youth pastor at North Ridge Church for almost four years. During that time, he finished the ordination process with the Christian and Missionary Alliance and graduated with a Masters Degree from Wheaton Graduate School in Biblical and Theological Studies. In 1995, Rich and Elisa moved to Peru, where they served for ten years as youth pastor missionaries in four different churches in Lima and Trujillo. Rich also taught in the Bible Seminary in Lima and Trujillo. He was the Executive director of the Seminary in Trujillo for one year. He taught World Views, Evangelism, The Book of Hebrews, and Missions, among other courses. In 2005, Rich and Elisa became regional youth missionaries in Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia. In 2006, they started Inca Link and that organization is now serving in four countries (Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, and the United States). Rich´s calling is to reach the 300 million youth in Latin America with Christ´s irresistible love. Rich and Elisa have four children who have been intimately involved in the Browns’ ministry: Olivia, Michaela, Josiah & Alexa.

Posted in Personal Leadership, Uncategorized


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