When people look at highly sought-after pastor and speaker Chris Brown, they see a successful man that is well put together. What they don't know is his history.

In 2014, Chris was in a board meeting where they were dissecting one of his talks and figuring out ways that he could be a better communicator. At one point, someone commented and said that Chris came across as somebody who has always had a polished and easy life. 

"I couldn't believe I was hearing this about myself," said Chris. "I have never, in my life, seen myself that way because of a ridiculously crazy past."

Chris experienced many tragedies and trials growing up, including homelessness, violence, abuse, drugs, and death.  

"I had a lot of pain growing up," Chris explained. "The last thing I wanted to do is expose that what you're seeing is not what's inside."

After being encouraged by colleagues, Chris began opening up and sharing his story, and he says the response and the effects have reached far and wide.

"Authenticity and genuine rawness are so rare today that I never noticed that my impact and ministry influence skyrocketed because people were drawn to it," said Brown. "It's magnetically attracted to people who will expose the worst parts of themselves for the benefit of God's glory and for the benefit of others."

"Our past pain, whatever the unique niche pain is, you can use that niche pain. It may be a miscarriage. It may be a divorce. It may be bankruptcy. Whatever that niche pain is, you can use that to empathize later in your life in a way that you could never do if you had not gone through those experiences because you transfer from sympathy to empathy, which is a big difference."

Chris reflects on the difficult times in his own story in his book, Restored: Transforming the Sting of Your Past into Purpose for Today. In this book, Chris reflects on his painful past and discusses how he overcame his struggles.

He says your past is a gift, no matter how messy it may have been because it paves the way for us to develop the unique Christ-honoring message the world needs us to share.

Today on Connections, Chris shares his powerful story of transformation and how he is using it to transform others.