Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Shoes for Orphan Souls trips change radio host's view of world

Carmen Brown, co-host of the morning show on the Joy FM, delivered shoes to orphans in Honduras recently. The trips — this was her fourth — have changed her view of religion.

Photo courtesy of Carmen Brown

Carmen Brown, co-host of the morning show on the Joy FM, delivered shoes to orphans in Honduras recently. The trips — this was her fourth — have changed her view of religion.

Listeners know her as Carmen, the cheerful female voice of the Morning Cruise on the Joy FM, 91.5 in Tampa. For nearly a decade, she has chatted with and about top Christian music artists on air from 6 to 10 a.m. weekdays. In some church circles, she is a celebrity.

To orphans 1,000 miles away, she is a stranger with a gift.

Carmen Brown, of New Tampa, recently returned from Honduras, where she spent a week delivering more than 8,000 pairs of shoes, donated by listeners, to children in need. It is her fourth year traveling with Buckner International's Shoes for Orphan Souls ministry.

Trip one, she went alone to Guatemala. Trips two and three, she brought a few fans and friends to Peru and Guatemala. This year, about 100 people applied to go along, and 32 made the journey to Honduras.

Times staff writer Sarah Whitman spoke with Brown, 40, about transforming listeners of WLPJ-FM 91.5 into missionaries and seeing the world with new eyes.

Is there a readjustment period returning home from a trip like this?

There is definitely a re-entry period. I came back exhausted, slept 14 hours and cried, literally, for the next two days. I cried for the children there, and I cried for our kids, too. There is so much wealth in this country. They don't even know they need Jesus.

Why do this? What made you decide to take that first trip?

I was having a casual (off-air) conversation with one of our artists and he told me about this organization he was working with, Buckner International. He said, "You're going on this trip." And I went. And I saw. And no amount of pictures can paint that picture.

I grew up in government housing on food stamps, and I thought I knew poverty. Then, I saw true poverty. These kids don't even have shoes.

One of the first little girls, I put socks on her feet and handed her another pair. She said, "Dos?" She was so grateful. And I'm thinking, my kids lose socks in the dryer.

What is it like leaving the day-to-day behind?

It's time to unplug. Sometimes your cell phone works. Sometimes it doesn't. Going to the orphanages, being with the kids, it brings you back to the basics of humanity.

How do you bring what you do to the orphans?

They know what radio is, but they don't have radios. The last three years the band, Mike's Chair, has come with us. They play songs, and you can really see the healing power of the music.

People have this romanticized idea about orphans, and a lot of times with the younger kids it's that way. They hug on you and are so happy you're there. But when you go into a girls' home where the girls are 12 to 18 years old and they have been sexually hurt by their dads, or brothers, or uncles, a new pair of shoes isn't going to heal those girls. A new pair of shoes is almost an insult. But you can see how the music affects them. They hear the message.

Do you keep in touch with the children?

I've kept in touch with probably half a dozen.

There was a girl in Peru who really loved my Joy FM hat, but it had my name on it. When I got back, I was able to get her a hat and send it to her.

Has serving as a missionary changed your world view?

The world feels a lot smaller to me. The Gospel is more than the American version of how we see it. I used to think it was going to church on Sunday. Now I understand that pure religion in the eyes of the Lord is taking care of the widows and the orphans. There's a difference between hearers of the word and doers of the word. The Gospel has a whole new meaning.

Coming off such an emotionally charged experience, how do you go back to being cheerful Carmen on the radio?

A lot of prayer. I cry a lot. I journal a lot. It's a process. There's a verse in John where God says I will not leave you as orphans. I have to rest in the knowledge that God loves them. As much as I am hurting, God loves them and hurts for them more than I do.

I came back, and my husband's here. My daughter still needs me to drive her to basketball practice. I'm stepping back into life, maybe even a little faster than I'd like to.

To read more about Carmen Brown's trip and Shoes for Orphan Souls, visit thejoyfm.com/carmen.

Shoes for Orphan Souls trips change radio host's view of world 10/01/11 [Last modified: Saturday, October 1, 2011 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bill Clinton coming to Miami Beach on Saturday for mayors' convention

    Blogs

    From our friends at the Miami Herald:

    Former President Bill Clinton gives the opening address to kick off a meeting of International Aid Groups at the InterAction Forum 2017 at the Washington Convention Center on June 20.
  2. Obama's secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin's election assault

    National

    WASHINGTON — Early last August, an envelope with extraordinary handling restrictions arrived at the White House. Sent by courier from the CIA, it carried "eyes only" instructions that its contents be shown to just four people: President Barack Obama and three senior aides.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Barack Obama shake hands at the COP21 UN Conference on Climate Change in Paris, France, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. [Mikhail Klimentyev | Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP]
  3. GOP's challenge: Finding votes for Senate health care bill (w/video)

    National

    WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has finally unwrapped his plan for dismantling President Barack Obama's health care law. Now comes his next challenge — persuading enough Republicans to back the measure and avert a defeat that could be shattering for President Donald Trump and the GOP.

    Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks to reporters at the Capitol after Republicans released their long-awaited bill to scuttle much of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 22, 2017. He is one of four GOP senators to say they are opposed it but are open to negotiations, which could put the measure in immediate jeopardy. [Associated Press]
  4. Trigaux: Halfway through 2017, a closer look at six drivers of the Tampa Bay economy

    Business

    We're nearly halfway through 2017 already, a perfect time to step back from the daily grind of business and ask: How's Tampa Bay's economy doing?

    Is there one theme or idea that captures the Tampa Bay brand? Not really but here's one possibility. The fun-loving annual Gasparilla "Invasion" of Tampa is captured in this photo of 
The Jose Gasparilla loaded with pirates of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla on its way this past January to the Tampa Convention Center. In the future a vibrant downtown Tampa or St. Petersburg may be the better theme. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  5. Harmeling first woman to receive lifetime honor at Sneaker Soiree in Tampa

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — For the last quarter-century, she has combined passion and meticulousness to keep the Gasparilla Distance Classic humming and evolving. Indefatigable and detailed, Susan Harmeling braces for every race-weekend contingency.

    Susan Harmeling gives a speech after accepting an award  during the annual Sneaker Soiree, at TPepin's Hospitality Centre, Thursday, June 22, 2017.