Camille Brown’s story deeply touched my heart. She suffered unimaginable tragedy and loss, but also experienced God’s incredible power to bring healing, restoration, and forgiveness to her life.
I met with Camille at the Dream Center in Los Angeles, California. She’s the leader of the new Freedom House, a ministry designed to provide a fresh start for women veterans who are struggling with poverty, addictions, homelessness, and other needs. It will provide a place for them to live while they start putting their lives back together. We are honored to be partnering with the Dream Center to build this amazing place to reach forgotten women veterans in such desperate need of help.
Camille is a veteran herself, and spent eight years in the Navy. While in the Navy, she was in an abusive relationship. She was physically assaulted, and began drinking heavily. After breaking free of the abuser, she became friends with a man. The friendship eventually developed a relationship. Here’s what she told me about what happened next:
“I quit drinking and got back into church. We fell in love, got engaged, and everything was great, until I found out I was pregnant. When I told him, he said he wanted nothing more to do with me or with the baby. He said he had been in another relationship during the time we had been together.
“I decided to get an abortion. Before I walked into the clinic, I asked God to give me a sign if He didn’t want me to do this, even though I felt sure I was going to have the abortion. But when I saw the ultrasound, something changed in my heart. I couldn’t go through with it. When I walked out the doors of that clinic, I gave my life to God.
“I had a beautiful baby girl in February of 2012. I named her Kennedy, and she was everything to me.
“The father started coming around to visit the baby. I wanted her to know her father, and when she was eleven months old, he asked if she could spend a night with him, and I said yes. I dropped her off at 7:38 p.m. on February 6, and at 2:18 a.m. on February 7, I got a call to go to the hospital. When I got there, they told me my daughter was dead. The girlfriend of my baby’s father was arrested, and eventually convicted of murdering my daughter.”
Friend, try to put yourself in Camille’s situation. Can you even begin to imagine the pain? The anger? The guilt? She started using drugs to get away from the pain. She was bitter against God, and filled with unforgiveness and despair.
But one day, something happened. Camille’s family heard Pastor Matthew Barnett, founder of the Dream Center, speak at their church. They told her about the help available at the Dream Center, but she wasn’t interested. In fact, she said it sounded more like a “Nightmare Center” than a “Dream Center.”
She finally agreed to go. When she got there, God began the healing process.
Camille said, “After a sermon on forgiveness, I thought, ‘How can I ever forgive her? How can I let her get away with killing my daughter? And why weren’t you there, God? Oh God, why wasn’t I there for my baby?’ And I heard God whisper back to me, ‘She wasn’t alone. I was right there. And what makes your sin less than the woman who murdered? Isn’t she my child, too?’
“I knew I had to forgive. I discovered God was still there. That He still loved me. I was able to forgive the woman who killed my daughter. One of my goals is to see that woman and hug her and tell her I forgive her.”
Camille is now free from addiction, and continuing to work through her grief. She has been chosen to lead Freedom House at the Dream Center, and will minister to women veterans. Only God can take pain and brokenness and find a way to bring healing and hope out of it.
Forgiveness can be the hardest thing you have to do. It isn’t easy to love like you’ve never been hurt. But God is the source of forgiveness, renewal, and love. What He’s done in Camille’s life, He wants to do for everyone.
I’m so honored to be part of the work that will be done at Freedom House. This is the very heart of God—reaching out to the hopeless and bringing healing to the broken. We’re partnering with the Dream Center to make this a reality, and I challenge you to be part of making the miracle of Freedom House happen. Would you ask God what He wants you to give today to build this place for women veterans to have a new start?
“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
Thank you for responding to those in need. Thank you for the love of God that flows through you and out into a broken world. God bless you!