Quincy’s Q.U.E.S.T.: ‘Life is a series of transitions’


By Jennifer Shrade
LaGrange Daily News

LaGrange College’s chaplain has written a book to help guide students through life’s transitions, even as he prepares for another difficult change in his own life.

The Rev. Quincy Brown, who underwent a kidney transplant in 2005, is facing more dialysis soon and another transplant, because his body has begun to reject the new organ.

“I have about 15 percent kidney function,” Brown said. “At some point, I’ll have to go back on dialysis and I’m OK with that. I’m physically sick, but I’m well. It’s all about your attitude. I can ask God, ‘Why?’ but we all suffer with something.”

Brown says he didn’t set out to write “Q.U.E.S.T.: Stories as Guides Through Life’s Transitions,” but it did start because of his battle with kidney disease.

“At that time, I was doing a lot of writing to try and make sense of what I was going through,” he said.

Friends who read Brown’s writings suggested the book.

“If it helped me, maybe it can help someone else,” he said.

Q.U.E.S.T. stands for the following:

  • Question: Discover your core story and its relation to God’s story;
  • Uncover: Reflect on the plots, core themes and major and supporting characters in your story;
  • Experience: Recognize the feeling and emotional effects of life events in your story;
  • Search: Sort through your story for meaning by comparing it to other stories in biblical and other story traditions;
  • Transform: Renew your story by connecting your story with themes from biblical stories.

Brown is a fan of cartoons and other pop culture characters, and the desk and shelves of his Smith Hall office are lined with everything from Bart Simpson from “The Simpsons” to Yoda from the “Star Wars” series and even a bobble-head Jesus. Brown uses those characters’ well-known stories to help students relate through their own struggles. There’s even a reference to Hannah Montana. In the popular Disney Channel show, Miley Stewart – played by Miley Cyrus – is a student by day and pop star Hannah Montana by night. Only her family and closest friends know of her alter ego.

“She is most of us,” Brown said. “We want to have that glamorous life, but we don’t have it. Every once in a while, we have one of those ‘mountain top’ experiences, when everything works out perfectly. We want to stay there.”

The point of the book is figuring out how people’s stories – and struggles – connect with God’s stories, in hopes that connection will help them navigate the transition.

Brown was brought to LaGrange College in 1997 by President Stuart Gulley to be the campus minister. The ordained Methodist minister has a master of divinity from Candler School of Theology at Emory University. Along with being the Elizabeth Walker Lanier campus minister, he’s the servant leadership director at the college. Brown was awarded the 2003 Chaplain of the Year from the United Methodist Higher Education Foundation.

“Through his difficult episodes, Quincy has been transparent and open with our community, showing us that woundedness of health or spirit can result in a stronger, more meaningful purpose, if we but believe and have hope,” Gulley writes in the book’s foreword. “Thankfully, Quincy has taken his gifts and challenges and directed them to the production of this book, reflecting his own Q.U.E.S.T. in life and inviting us to our own Q.U.E.S.T. for fulfillment and happiness. Through honest recounting of his own trials, Quincy helps us make connections to aid us in our journey. Those who are earnestly seeking direction in their life – a Q.U.E.S.T. – will be greatly helped by this work. In Quincy, they will find a spiritual guide and mentor.”

Brown says most of his time as LaGrange College’s chaplain is spent talking with students about their transitions: changing a major, deaths of parents or grandparents, becoming a parent to their parents, losing a job and break-ups with boyfriends or girlfriends.

“Most of what I do is tell stories to help people make sense of their lives,” Brown said.

He admits it was difficult to continue to counsel and talk with students as he was enduring his own health crisis and questioning God himself.

“I had people I was talking with to deal with the anger and the denial and the fear and the doubt,” he said.

In some ways, it’s made him a better counselor, he said.

“I definitely know what it’s like to be alone on the island,” he said.

Brown says if anything happens as a result of the book, he hopes someone will find hope from his story.

“I am not an expert at anything except trying to live and be faithful to God,” he said.

Jennifer Shrader can be reached at jshrader@lagrangenews.com or (706) 884-7311, Ext. 236.