By Tim Ellsworth, Baptist Press
RIO DE JANEIRO (BP) – Mackenzie Brown showed enough promise as an archer that she moved to the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., as a teenager.
That proved to be a difficult experience that required a lot of extra maturity, and Brown relied on the Lord to help her through those times.
“That was kind of a culture shock for me,” Brown, now 21, told Baptist Press. “It definitely put me through a couple of rough patches where my faith wasn’t as strong, but I always came back. God always found me and pulled me out every time. I thank Him every day for it.”
Brown, the fourth-ranked archer in the world, was upset in the round of 16 on Monday (Aug. 8) by San Ye Htwe of Myanmar, ending her hopes for a medal and bringing her first Olympic competition to a close. Despite the disappointing outcome, Brown’s Olympic journey was done with the support of her family and her family’s home church, Flint Baptist Church in Flint, Texas.
Brown’s mother Stacey is the Vacation Bible School director at the church. Her father Chuck and sister Rilie are also members there. Though Brown attends church in California where she lives, she also manages to stay connected to the Flint congregation.
Earlier this summer, the church showed video messages from Brown to the children attending the Olympic-themed Vacation Bible School. Senior Pastor Sam DeVille said Brown spoke to the children about maintaining their integrity at all times and remembering who they were, even if they find themselves in the spotlight.
“She really walks the walk,” DeVille said of Brown. “She really is a true disciple of Jesus Christ.”
The church also helped the Browns in their efforts to raise money to
travel to Rio to watch Mackenzie compete. On their GoFundMe page, Chuck and Stacey write that their goal as parents “has always been to first point our girls to their Heavenly Father in everything. Next is to help and encourage them to make the best use of the talents and gifts God has blessed them with. Mackenzie has absolutely done that in a way that has blown our minds.”
That foundation in Brown’s life was one reason why she became a Christian at age 7.
“What was actually really cool is that my mom got baptized with me at the same time,” Brown said, “because she had accepted Christ in her heart but never got baptized. That was a really cool experience to have together.”