“It was a personally moving experience,” said Amy Brown after visiting the house where her great uncle August Lovegren spent 36 years as a general surgeon in Jordan at the Ajloun Eman Hospital, formerly the Ajloun Hospital. The visit comes just one month after the passing of the elder Lovegren who would have been 101 years old on Dec. 11.
Amy, married to Elijah Brown, the secretary general of the Baptist World Alliance, has been to Jordan twice this year. She purposely made the visit along with her husband, leaving their young children back in Washington, D.C., in the care of the children’s grandparents because of what Jordan means to her and her family. “On both trips, we have found substantial memory of my uncle. The reaction by people who knew him is very meaningful to me and our family.” She took a few pictures of the humble house where her relative spent most of his years in Jordan. His room has become part of the Ajloun Baptist Convention Center.
Amy Brown spoke warmly of the Hashemites, recalling that her great uncle had a special relationship with the late King Hussein. “He had affectional relations with King Hussein who honored him by making him an officer of the Order of Independence. ”
Similarly, she expressed appreciation for Jordan’s monarch, saying “We are grateful to His Majesty King Abdullah for inviting us to come to Jordan and to be part of the work that is going on at the Baptismal site.” Jordan is planning a major $100 million project near the Baptismal site that will include a biblical village, hotels, and other attractions. They hope to attract a million Christian pilgrims in 2030 on the anniversary of the second millennium to the Baptism of Jesus was Baptized “beyond Bethany” as the Bible says.
“My great uncle would be honored that Baptist memory is being intentionally honored at the baptismal site. And now we are here to take part, along with others, in the development of the Baptismal site.”
“Our family, and the Baptist family, have a great appreciation and respect for Jordan and we love going forward to continuing the legacy of Jordan in general and the personal legacy of our family and our larger family of faith by being part of the development to the site that Jesus was baptized in.”
“My uncle was a quiet man who was born in a remote area in China to missionary parents that had been emigrants from Sweden. Yes, he was American, but he was a new American and his father and mother were first-generation Americans.”
Being born in China appears to have helped Dr. Lovegren understand being a foreigner and the loss of a sibling has left a strong mark on his, and his entire family’s, life. “He lost a seven-year-old sibling sister who died from a curable disease, and this has had a huge effect on him and seems to have shaped his desire to become a doctor.”
The early years of Dr. Lovegren in China were hard. He grew up in a rural area with no schools or proper medical facilities, but they seem to have prepared him for his lifetime service in Jordan. Amy said that the U.S. Army sent him to medical school during the years of World War II and “once he was in Jordan he chose to stay.”
Amy said that when August Lovegren first came to Jordan his father was a prisoner of conscience in China. “He had refused to leave his service as a missionary when the communists first took over. He was incarcerated for five years before he was released & then with his wife & August’s older sister, came directly to Jordan & stayed with August & Alta Lee for a month before touring the US. His had become a high-profile case.” His case was during the same time Bill Wallace was martyred.
Amy Brown spoke warmly of the effect that Jordan has had on their family. Commenting on her visit to where her great-uncle spent his missionary years as a surgeon, Amy Evan-Brown said that her uncle had other interests than medicine. “My uncle had many interests besides medicine. His children still talk about how profound memory of touring the middle east on family vacations.”
Amy connected her current visit to that love of her great uncle. “We are here in Jordan because of an archeological project at the Jordanian Baptismal site. We didn’t choose the timing, but the Lord was honoring my uncle by having us there for this occasion. I intend to bring back photos and relate to his children the wonderful stories we have seen and heard about his service in Jordan.”
Daoud Kuttab an award-winning journalist is a member of the Baptist Church in Amman and is the secretary of the Jordan Evangelical Council. He is the publisher of milhalard.org, an online publication about Christians in Jordan, Palestine, and Israel. Follow him on Twitter @daoudkuttab.