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This Is My Story

January 1, 2005

I was raised in church and went faithfully, my daddy saw to that. Yet, even though he insisted on our church attendance, I cannot honestly look back and say with any degree of certainty that my daddy was saved. Only God knows that. Daddy died when I was sixteen years old. On the other hand, I know with absolute  certainty that my mother was saved. She passed away when I was fifty-nine. All my brothers and sisters are still alive and are all saved.

 I received Christ as my Savior when I was 22 years-old having been led to the Lord by Brother Elton Slater, a Baptist preacher in East Moss Point. I was baptized in the river canal behind the old paper mill in Moss Point, Mississippi and began serving God faithfully. During this period of time, I sensed God issuing to me a higher calling to serve Him, but instead of obedience, I found it was easier to turn away from God and turn to the ways of the world. In fact, I turned away from God for many years. I turned to my job for satisfaction and worked  long days and many hard hours. I was very successful and made a good living. We bought a house and had a car as well as a truck. In fact, I had everything that I thought I needed to make me happy. I felt ten feet tall and bullet proof and didn’t need anything or anybody. Everything was great.

 Then things started to happen.  I had a good friend whose wife died of cancer at the age of thirty-eight. This woman never drank, smoked or did any bad thing. She seemed to be healthy and it was hard to believe she would die, but she did. I couldn’t understand why bad things happen to good people, so I began to pray and ask God why, but God doesn’t have to explain himself and often doesn’t. He did put a burden on my heart though, to pray for others, my friends and relatives that were lost and sick.

 Then things really began to happen in my life. I started having heart problems, Actually there were two kinds, one physical and one spiritual.  I went to the doctor for the physical problem, but that little five letter word, PRIDE would not let me turn to God for help.  IN 1983, I had by-pass surgery and was forced into retirement by my ill health. My job was my life, it had become everything to me, even taking precedence over my wife and children who were now grown.

 I could bore you with a lot of details, but it would not excuse the things that took place over the next fourteen years. I will tell you however, that we spent a lot of time in hospitals and doctors’ offices.

 In the meantime my Son, Sam who was working in Georgia called to tell me he had been going to church and he had been saved. Later he called to say that he had been called to preach.  That old pride inside of me said, “we’ll just see how long that will last.” In 1995 Sam and his wife, Anita gave me a bible for Christmas.  I already had several bibles but wasn’t reading any of them. I began reading but soon found myself with even greater heart problems.  In 1998 I was told I would have to have by-pass surgery again, not knowing whether I would live or die.

 Sam and Anita had moved back home so he was on hand to pray with me.  I told him that if I didn’t make it that I was sure that I would make it ot heaven because I had asked for forgiveness and God always forgives us if we ask.  After surgery, I started going to church and in April 1999, I returned to God with all my heart and soul and made a promise to serve him with all my being until death.

 I tell these things not to excuse the things that I did in life, but to show people that we have a loving God who forgives, forgets and restores us back to Him.  He loved us so much that He gave his only Son that whosoever believes can have everlsating life, just for asking.

My biggest regret is that I stayed away from Him so long and let people separate me and my family from a loving God and His people.  Folks, let me tell you, if at any time in your life, you feel empty, void, left alone with no one to care for you or to love you, remember, God loves you and cares what happens to you.  if you take anything with you from what I have written here, let it be the vision of renewed vision of  the wonderful, loving God we serve, a God who gives us a second chance just for the asking.  I hope and pray that if someone reads this, their focus will be on what God does in one’s life. Just remember, God loves you.

I write the following not to boast in myself, but to give all praise and glory to God for he not only restores me back to Him, but he allowed me to serve him. On June 11, 2002, I began teaching the men’s Sunday School class at Woodhaven Baptist Church and am still teaching today. Then on May 19, 2002, I was ordained as a deacon to serve my pastor who is also my son, Sam Johnson. So you see how God has restored me and my family.  I also minister each Tuesday night along with Gary Shirley at the Jackson County Adult Detention Center where God is using me to do His work and share His love.