Campus Connection 838: A liaison between students and God

On+the+left.+Tammy+Brown+with+part+of+the+Campus+Connection+family+and+President+Cost+posing+in+front+of+the+dolphin+statues+on+campus.

Photo by CampusConnection838

On the left. Tammy Brown with part of the Campus Connection family and President Cost posing in front of the dolphin statues on campus.

Gabriela Lovera, Managing Editor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.— “You come in as a guest and you leave as family.”

That’s the motto of Campus Connection 838, a Christian ministry established in 2013 by Pastor Johnny Brown and his wife Tammy Brown.

“We are not a national organization,” said Johnny Brown. “We are just a wife and her husband who said yes to God.”

The ministry started with only three students. Once the Browns arrived at JU, the number of attendees increased.

“When we came to JU we had, probably, 20 to 25 students the first time,” he said. “As of last September, for this semester only, we have over 290 people. Some come every week, and some come once in a while.”

The club’s name originates fromRomas 8:38 a passage in the Bible associated to the organization’s mission to spread God’s unconditional love.

Through Campus Connection 838, the couple wants to provide students with a space where they can strengthen their personal relationship with God.

“Our motto is that we are assisting young men and women to be everything God’s designed them to be,” he said. “We believe that God has a purpose for each one of us. It’s not the same; it’s not cookie-cutter. What we want to do is come alongside and assist.”

Four years ago, the organization became an official club in the JU campus. Even though Campus Connection 838 is a Christian ministry, the club welcomes everyone, regardless of religion.

“There’s no pre-requisite to come,” said Johnny Brown. “It’s not a class and it’s not about religion, it’s about having a relationship with God.”

Through the club, the Browns strive to provide students with a support system that helps them connect with God and one another.

“Our goal is not to force anyone to believe, our goal is to share the love of Christ,” said Tammy Brown.

Every week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the Browns hold the “The Experience” at their home. Students from all backgrounds and majors are welcomed to have a meal and stay for an hour of Bible study.

The couple began preparing meals after realizing that many students attending Bible study lacked a nutritious diet.

“Our kids would come in with their big drinks and comfort food,” said Tammy Brown. “When I realized that was their dinner, my momma heart could not take it. I invited them to have dinner with me. We all have to eat, why don’t you eat with us?”

Food allows attendees to form bonds and it also creates and reinforces a sense of community. Nonetheless, Campus Connection 838 offers more than just a meal.

“Yes, we feed people physically, but we also strive to feed them spiritually, emotionally and in every aspect so that they see Jesus in us,” she said. “It’s not just teaching and preaching, but everything is through actions so that they know they have a family.”

Senior psychology and biology major Francis Alip started attending “The Experience” less than a month ago. He was introduced to Campus Connection 838 by a close friend and finds comfort and support by attending Bible study.

“I am very grateful for how they support us by not only giving us their wisdom and advice, but also by praying for us,” said Alip. “My family and I have been through a lot recently but just knowing that they’re keeping us in their thoughts and sending us love means the world.”

Grace Artis, junior track and field athlete at JU, regularly attends Bible study and is not planning to stop anytime soon.

“I keep coming because I feel like they are the family that God has placed in Jacksonville for students,” said Artis. “They really keep students connected to God and his word.”

Artis says it is especially comforting to see them at her meets, cheering her on and taking pictures.

Alip understands how the club might feel like a home away from home for some.

“I like the family aspect,” said Alip. “They say that you come in as a guest and you leave as family, and I felt that from the very first time attended. I can totally understand why, for people who are not from Jacksonville, this is a family away from home.”