When I first heard of Pastor Paul Brown, minister of Beacon Community Church in West Yorkshire, I was instantly captured by his story; a pastor living with Motor Neurone Disease, who had just recently been told his condition was terminal, but was continuing to preach, evangelise, conduct funeral services and minister to his community, was truly astonishing to me. And after reading a recent interview of his where he was quoted as saying, “I’m not dying, I am living for Jesus”, I was left in no doubt that I had to meet him for myself.

After an hour-long conversation, where we laughed, shared and brought each other close to tears, he left me with an experience that genuinely humbled me and a story that truly took my breath away. 

But let’s start at the beginning. 

Pastor Paul was brought up in a Christian family, in a little village in North Wales. His mum and dad were both Christian and at 13 he attended an open-air mission. 


It would be an experience that would forever change my life,” he recalls. 

During the event, a gentleman stood up and gave an impartation: that so often people think that Christianity is automatic when raised in a Christian home. He went on to use the example of, if one was born in a greenhouse, it wouldn’t make them a tomato! Pastor Paul pinpoints that, suddenly the penny dropped, and I realised in that moment that I needed to carve out a personal relationship with the Lord for myself, God doesn’t have grandchildren, and that day, I made the decision to give my life to Him.” 

The next pivotal moment was when Paul was 18, and a spiritual mentor told him that he was called to be a leader and serve others. In that moment, I had complete clarity. My life’s mission was to reach out and help others and connect them with the Lord.” 

At the time, Paul had just started an apprenticeship in carpentry and joinery, but soon after completing his course he wasted no time in taking up the mantle. Around his 20th birthday, he joined Emmanuel Bible College and was consequently ordained. 

But it wasn’t all straightforward,” Paul reflects, In 1998, my faith was undeniably rocked when my marriage ended, and I was separated from my children. I was devastated.” 

Paul recalls contemplating stepping down until a friend and fellow clergy member urged him to stay on and see what God had in store. 

Several years later he met and married his wife Claire. In 2003 they were called to plant a church in Wrexham in Wales, which they had the pleasure of watching grow, before being called to serve in Essex. They eventually ended up in Bradford in 2016 at Beacon Community Church where they still reside. In 2020 they began fostering two little girls. It was a challenging but wonderful time,” he reflects.

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Then suddenly, last year in June, after 12 months of bouncing back and forth between medical professionals and referrals and many appointments with doctors with blank faces, Paul was diagnosed with terminal Motor Neurone Disease (MND) and was given just a few years to live. He was 66.

It hit me hard,” Paul says. I was shocked. We both were.”

The following morning, during my daily reading I came across 2 Corinthians. I had always loved 2 Corinthians; a praise to the God of all comfort, it couldn’t have been more timely!”

Paul shares, As I read on to verse 12:9, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness’, I felt as though God was speaking directly to me and restoring my faith.”

I instantly felt peace. His grace is sufficient I thought, whether He cures me or not, He is enough!”

Paul says that he and his wife from then on took the distinct belief and decision that God was going to see them through.

He was going to give us the grace that He had promised. We are believing in God for a mobility scooter, and a home.” 

Paul truly believes that his diagnosis is not a limitation for his work here on earth, but in fact a clear reminder of his purpose which he defines as being a voice for the world to encounter the love of Jesus. God has not weakened my voice, if anything He has strengthened my voice,” he says.

"I instantly felt peace. His grace is sufficient, I thought, whether He cures me or not, He is enough!"

He still accepts requests from families to conduct their loved ones’ funerals despite his frailties, and I can see why. His gentle spirit, positivity and compassionate heart are so evident from just talking to Paul.

It would be easy to lie in bed and give up. But God has called me to live for Him.”

Paul says, I am not defined by MND, but defined by my faith in God.”

I asked Paul if he had any words of encouragement for those facing similar hardships and he shared with me a beautiful story of a chaplain who understood his assignment from God was to be a light on earth and to bring everyone he encountered into a closer relationship with God. Paul said this story is to encourage everyone that we all have purpose and that we can all make a difference to others, even until our very last breath, or theirs.

The story of the chaplain… 

There was a chaplain who visited a hospital ward every Tuesday. As he would enter one of the rooms on the ward and greet the patients, he would be subject to an onslaught of abuse from a man in a neighbouring bed on the left. Without reacting to the man’s colourful language or undesirable hand gestures, he would smile at the man and reply God bless you.” Every Tuesday the chaplain returned and without fail would receive the same treatment from the man. Undeterred, the chaplain would smile towards the man and reply God bless you.”

When one day, out of the blue, the man questioned the chaplain and said, Why are you so nice to me, when I am so rude to you?” The chaplain turned, and replied, Because Jesus loves us all, despite what we do or what we say, and it is my desire for everyone to know Him.” The man paused. The chaplain approached the man’s bed and asked, Would you like to know that type of love? Would you like a personal relationship with Jesus?” The man looked unsure and replied, What would I say to Him?”

The chaplain pointed to the chair next to the man’s bed and said, Imagine He was sitting right there in that chair. You can say whatever is on your heart.” The chaplain stepped closer and asked the man, Would you like me to lead you in a prayer to encounter Jesus for yourself?” Surprisingly the man nodded and said yes and so the chaplain led him in prayer to give his heart to the Lord. The following Tuesday the chaplain entered the ward and was surprised to see the man’s bed on the left of the room empty. When he enquired of a nurse if the man had been moved, she replied, Sadly he passed away last week.”

Unaware of the chaplain and the man’s encounter the previous week, she went on to say, But the last few days with him were very pleasant. He was usually so rude and aggressive but last week he was so polite and kind, giving pleases and thank yous to all the staff – he was like a changed man.” She then paused and pointed to the chair beside the man’s bed and said, The strangest thing was, when he died, we found him sitting on his bed with his arms wrapped around that chair.” The chaplain paused and looked over at the empty chair and a smile beamed across his face, as he realised that the man, in his final moments, had his arms around Jesus. 

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