Becoming 'more than a conqueror'Former drug addict becomes national Christian music sensation
Brian Allen sat on the cold concrete floor of the Buncombe County Detention Center on Jan. 10, 2008, and quietly made a deal with God. He had convicted of five felony drug charges, all related to trafficking LSD from California to Asheville while attending Western Carolina University, and faced a five-year prison sentence.
The detention center was overcrowded, and all he was afforded that day was a blanket and a spot on the floor. As he sat there, suffering from a painful and difficult withdrawal from cocaine and heroine, he spoke to God — “If you are who you say you are, I’ve tried everything in the world and nothing’s worked. I need you to come save me. I need something to happen.”
Allen, 32, grew up a Baptist at Pleasant Gardens Baptist Church in Marion, where his father was the head pastor for 40 years. He started smoking weed at age 15.
“I decided church wasn’t for me and wanted nothing to do with it,” said Allen.
He “tried a bunch of different religions” at Western Carolina University, where he was pursuing a degree in parks and recreation management, in an attempt to combat his drug problem.
“I had a bad drug habit,” said Allen. “So I tried Buddhism, Hinduism, Wiccan, Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, multiple rehabs.”
But nothing worked, and he began dealing drugs to students on campus. Allen was caught in 2007 after a student tipped off police.
Nine years later, Allen said that his life changed direction on that snowy day in January, sitting at rock bottom on the floor of the detention center.
“When I prayed and got saved, it was radical. I’ve never been the same since.”
Starting the ministry
Allen served four and a half years behind bars in five different prisons, from Lumberton to Avery/Mitchell. Prison was difficult at times, he said, like witnessing a race riot at Lumberton shortly after he arrived.
“It was intense,” Allen said. “God kept me safe the whole time. There were a couple of altercations, but nothing major.”
With dedication and good behavior, Allen worked through the multiple security levels — from maximum security to being able to obtain one six-hour community pass each week with which inmates are allowed to attend events such as Narcotics Anonymous and religious functions.
He learned to play the guitar and during his weekly pass, he would sing with The Prodigal Sons in Buncombe County, a southern gospel group. Eventually he began writing his own contemporary Christian music.
After he was released in 2012, Allen attended Lancaster Bible College and obtained a bachelor’s degree in Bible theology. He became an ordained pastor through Pleasant Gardens Baptist Church.
Allen got the idea for his More Than Conquerors Ministries, named after Romans 8:37 — “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” — and came under the umbrella of Pleasant Gardens Baptist’s ministry network.
“[The name] actually means people who have overcome extreme trials, testing and temptations with the help of Jesus,” said Allen. “He is the one who fights for us and he’s our conqueror.”
In 2013, Allen and his wife, Jennifer, moved to Haywood County. He took a full-time position at Maggie Valley First Baptist Church, where he served as the pastor of youth, children and worship, and continued with his music ministry on the side.
He resigned after two and a half years, as his ministry was demanding so much of his time.
“[The Lord] had given me this vision in prison years before,” said Allen, noting that what he had originally seen as a prison ministry had become something more.
“All I knew was that I wanted to do something for the Lord,” he said.
A singer/songwriter, Allen says that his music has gotten widespread attention.
“I write my own music, lyrics and everything, and the music has really taken off,” he said.
Two of his songs have topped the independent contemporary Christian radio charts — At No. 1 was “Your Love,” and “Not On My Own” came in at No. 2. His music is broadcast on 181 stations in the United States, Canada and Australia.
The group is composed of is him and musician and singer Jessica Smith. Allen’s wife, Jennifer, does graphic design for their performances, and Smith’s husband, the Rev. Nathan Smith, gives a spoken testimony. Together they perform all original music, lead worship events, preach and bear witness to God’s saving grace.
The group ministers to churches, youth groups, prisons, jails, halfway houses, in-patient recovery programs, outpatient recovery programs and more. They do about 60 to 70 event each year in the surrounding states and as far away as Wisconsin and are booked solid through October.
Allen and More Than Conquerors will be featured on the Cornerstone Christian Network (CTVN) live at 9:30 a.m. on the show “Real Life” on Tuesday, June 21. At 10:30 a.m., the show “Real Life 360” will feature a recorded demo of two of his songs and his spoken testimony.
The network attracts 6 million viewers each week.
“This will hopefully just balloon our ministry to more areas,” said Allen.
For more information, visit www.brianallenmusic.com.