Roscoe Brown has no idea how he would even begin to draw his family tree. His father has 19 kids by six different women. His mother has eight children by three different men. Partially lost in the shuffle of kids while simultaneously being subject to mental and physical abuse, Roscoe buried himself in his secret love: cooking.
It was this passion that led him to become a cook in the Army at 19. After three years, he was honorably discharged from his post at Fort Hood, Texas, and was ready for the next stage of his life.
What he got was not what he was expecting.
Arriving back to Illinois on Christmas Eve to his sister’s, he found her and her boyfriend freebasing cocaine. He couldn’t resist, and 10 months later, Roscoe was serving his first of what would be eight drug-related prison terms.
While in prison though, his determination to rise above this lifestyle drove him. Through prison offerings, he earned associates degrees in food service and horticulture and his EMT certification. He shunned gangs and violence.
His release in 2003 brought him to his father’s house, where Roscoe looked forward to watching ballgames with a dad he spent little time with as a youngster. Instead, he found his father smoking crack.
It was his brother, Danny, who stepped in. As the Assistant Housing Director for Restoration Urban Ministries at the time, Danny got Roscoe instead into the programs, classes, and ministries there.
Roscoe really shone through the program, although it was not without its trials and tribulations.
“Through Restoration Urban Ministries, I learned to change my thinking – to learn forgiveness and peace,” says Roscoe. “They allowed me to find out who I really am – helped me uncover talents I didn’t even know I had.”
Happily, Roscoe hasn’t been back to prison since 2003, something he attributes directly to Restoration’s programs and God’s grace.
“My high now is the church,” he says. “I find peace in the word of God. I am a new man.”