Alumni, Campus wide

Changing lives through hope

By Jan Joslin | June 21, 2021

Derek Brown, PhD, LPC ‘04 is executive director of the Arkansas Baptist Children’s Homes and Family Ministries. He holds a Master of Divinity, Master of Theology, and a Doctor of Philosophy, all specializing in psychology and counseling. He is thankful to CSU for spiritual and academic growth, and because it is where he met the beautiful girl who became his wife, He and Ariel Meyer Brown have been married for 15 years and have three children: Leila, 12, Gavin, 8, and Jonas, 6. He said, “Though South Carolina will always be in our hearts, we have made our home in Arkansas, where we love to go camping, boating, and swimming in the Natural State.”

Ministering to Children and Families

Derek Brown, PhD, LPC ‘04 is executive director of the Arkansas Baptist Children’s Homes and Family Ministries. He holds a Master of Divinity, Master of Theology, and a Doctor of Philosophy, all specializing in psychology and counseling. Photo provided

When I was a senior in high school, I went on a mission trip where I was shocked to meet children who had never heard the name of Jesus. After that trip, I committed my life to make Him known. When I was a freshman at CSU, I began leading devotions for the youth at my church. The following year, I officially became their youth pastor. As I invested in their lives, I encountered deep pain in the voids formed by broken families. That experience fueled a personal mission to find ways to share Gospel-centered hope and healing in exchange for the pain and loss that so many children are carrying.

Growing Desire to Help Others

The week after I graduated from CSU, I traveled to the Middle East to spend the summer doing ministry with teenagers before going to New Orleans for seminary. The following year, just after Ariel and I were married, Hurricane Katrina turned our training ground into a giant mission field of loss and devastation. As we lived the next seven years of our lives in a post-Katrina environment, our hearts continued to grow for those in need of hope, healing, and connection.

Studying as an Avenue to Love

At CSU, I majored in youth ministry and psychology and continued on a similar trajectory throughout my academic career. I wasn’t motivated by professional goals or aspirations, but simply wanted to fulfill the Great Commandment by loving God and loving others. Studying theology and psychology seemed to be a good place to start. I wrapped up my years of formal education with a dissertation focused on the relationship between human emotions and our mental constructs of God.

Derek and Ariel Brown and their children. Photo provided

Daily Ministry

I get to spend my days building, strengthening, and restoring Arkansas families for God’s glory. As executive director for Arkansas Baptist Children’s Homes and Family Ministries, my aim is to advance the cause of our five distinct ministries: Connected Foster Care, Living Well Counseling, Desired Haven Family Care, Arkansas Baptist Ranch, and Arkansas Baptist Homes for Children. I am honored and humbled to be able to encourage and empower those on the frontlines of ministry to vulnerable children and families. 

Hope Changes Lives

The ministry to children from hard places takes all of us working together. In this difficult world, many families are spiraling deeper into brokenness, with a need for intervention at every level. Intergenerational patterns are tenuous, but hope changes lives, particularly in the context of trusting relationships. Though we are all imperfect, we have the capacity to offer hope and connection to a child or family in need.

Everyone Can Help

Mentor, foster, coach, teach, adopt, babysit – however it looks, make an investment in connection. The world needs more caring adults intentionally investing in children and young families. Find ways to support and encourage those on the frontlines who are doing these things.


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