By Connie Davis Bushey
News Editor, Baptist and Reflector
KNOXVILLE — He’s known as the “Tennessee Squirrel” or the tree climber among Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers. Children seeing him swinging around in a tree with ropes have called him Spiderman.
He is James Brown, a Tennessee Baptist disaster relief volunteer. Brown not only climbs and swings from ropes in trees, he manhandles a chain saw. The trees have been damaged by storms or fires and need repair or removal. Many times the trees are reached by volunteers working from bucket trucks, but sometimes the trucks can’t be used.
Brown recently was awarded the 2017 Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Distinguished Service Award. He was one of only 12 Baptist DR volunteers honored by the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board, which coordinates the ministry, and only one from Tennessee.
Mulsand, who is disaster relief director of Knox County Association of Baptists, said Brown lives out Proverbs 15:33 which teaches that humility will lead to honor. “He has just been terrific for all of our volunteers to work around.”
Brown not only has unique skills and courage, but Brown sacrificially gives of his time since he has a full-time job, added Mulsand. Brown is an electrician for a company in Loudon.
Brown also serves sacrificially by providing his own equipment, said Mulsand. Brown operates a tree removal service.
Finally, Brown has a way of ministering to the people who are storm victims and others, said Mulsand.
A DR volunteer out of Sevier Heights Baptist Church, Knoxville, for 14 years, Brown is certified to teach several areas of DR ministry and is a DR crew chief or blue cap.
He credited his wife, Barbara, for allowing him to be away from home so much so he can be involved in disaster relief, and his church for introducing him to the ministry.
“I like the great outdoors,” explained Brown. He learned the tree climbing skill from observing another DR volunteer years ago.
He said disaster relief is his “way of getting the word out that my Savior, Jesus Christ, is Lord and Savior. We just go out and witness to people and try to help out. … It’s not for individual recognition. It’s for bringing glory to God.”