River Region young people put schools, jobs on hold for greater purpose

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, April 12, 2017

LAPLACE — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ missionary program is one of its most recognized characteristics.

Mormon missionaries, according to church leaders, are seen on the streets of hundreds of major cities, as well as in thousands of smaller communities.

The Easter season is a time when many reflect upon the life of Jesus Christ and what can be done for Him. Five young men from the River Parishes are serving two-year missions for The Church as one way they can remember and serve Christ.

LaPlace native Justin Brown’s viewpoint via Skype of family members and loved ones gathered to wish him well.

The missionary effort is based on the New Testament pattern of missionaries serving in pairs, teaching the Gospel and baptizing believers in the name of Jesus Christ.

Monica Brown, public relations representative for the church, said missionary service brings the missionary, their family and those they teach closer to Jesus Christ.

“I have seen it in my own family when my husband, Alvin Brown Jr., served as a missionary over 20 years ago … while my oldest son, Jordan Brown, recently served in the Cape Coast Ghana Mission (2013-2015) after he graduated from East St. John High School in 2013,” Monica Brown said. “Easter, like Christmas, is a wonderful opportunity to remind all of us why we should serve others daily in a Christlike way.”

2016 Patrick F. Taylor Science and Technology graduate Justin Brown is serving in the Utah.

Brown, son of Alvin and Monica Brown, is a native of LaPlace and resident of Paulina.

Brown says God has blessed him, with family, friends, education and more, creating a desire to repay Him in a small way by serving for two years.

“There is honestly no other reason I would decide to place everyday life aside for two years to serve others if I didn’t believe what I am doing to be right in my heart,” he said. “I am serving in the Utah Orem mission. Going into my mission, I honestly wondered why I would serve where there are so many members of the same church. I am learning that God values service for each and every one of His children, no matter where they live in this earth.”

Brown said there is always someone missionaries can help strengthen and come closer to Christ.

“I guess, with my mission, I was looking to serve someplace exotic to gain worldly experience, but I am coming to learn that it’s not about the place we are serving in but it is His children that we are there to serve,” he said.

Brown returns home in 2018.

Others serving include William Thompson, Marquise Harding, Jason Cubas and Brannan Erwin, each putting college and career on hold to dedicate their lives to full-time missions. Their local church leader, Bishop J. Michael Brooks, writes a weekly email to each of the young men.

Thompson, a resident of Destrehan and native of Georgia, graduated Georgia Cyper Academy in 2014. He began serving his mission to Germany Berlin Mission in 2015.

Cubas, son of Allan and Tammy Cubas, is also a resident of Destrehan. He graduated from Bonnabel’s Alternative Program in 2012. He began serving his mission in the New York New York South Mission in December 2015.

Cubas has since been called to also serve for approximately six months in Bermuda. He will return to Destrehan in December.

Another 2016 graduate, David “Brannan” Erwin, is currently serving in the Idaho Boise Mission. Erwin, son of David and Darlene Erwin, graduated from Destrehan High School in May and began serving his mission six months later. Erwin returns in 2018.

The number of full-time missionaries serving missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is 74,079, according to church leaders.