First Baptist Church of Beltsville

Finding Peace with God on the Hilltop of Beltsville

Bad Bad Leroy Brown

I am not a fan of Jim Croce! It’s not because I think he lacks talent or musicality; it is only because he wrote a song that became a living nightmare for me. Leroy Brown was a living, breathing 3rd grade bully that made my life miserable for a year. The song became a personal anthem for the 8 year-old thug, as he would gleefully go about his business of intimidation while singing, “Bad, bad Leroy Brown....” Although I despised 3rd grade intensely because of Leroy, I learned a valuable lesson about burden sharing.

The first week of the school year started off splendidly. As the only blond-haired child in my class at August Ahrnes Elementary in Waipahu Hawaii, I was popular with all of the Asian and Polynesian kids. Then, Leroy came on the scene after an extended summer break (perhaps he was serving a sentence in prison). Leroy Brown started pushing me around and intimidating me, supposedly for the purpose of extorting my $0.25 lunch money each day. With my adult mind, I now know that Leroy did not like the attention that the lone Haole (white person) was receiving. It was blatant prejudice, and I was as afraid and alone as I have ever been.

My parents became suspicious of my daily request for an extra quarter to buy school supplies. “How many pencils can you use in a week?” my mother asked incredulously. The pressure was too great, and I finally admitted that Leroy Brown was taking my lunch money each day and that I needed an extra quarter to buy lunch. As horrified as I was at the thought of Mommy and Daddy going to school to deal with the Elementary-level racketeering operation, I was relieved that someone else knew of the bullying and intimidation. And, just like that, Leroy Brown’s career in extortion was over with no reprisals or repercussions.

I am certain that many people carry the fear and loneliness of bullying and prejudice with them all of the time. They bear this burden alone in their silent world of pain. Maybe it is an abusive family member using intimidation, or maybe it is vocational prejudice that suppresses your desire for career advancement. Don’t bear the burden alone! Allow the community of Believers to fulfill the Law of Christ and love you; helping you to bear the burden (Galatians 6:2). After all, the Body of Christ is stronger than the Leroy Browns of this world!