Pastor Richard Johnson

Marissa Dick | January 16th, 2018
Pastor Richard Johnson (Photo by Still Shots Photography)

Pastor Richard Johnson (Photo by Still Shots Photography)

Most often when we think of the word, pastor, we think of a man or woman who preaches the Word of God to the congregation on Sunday. Rarely do we break the word down to its’ Greek (Shepherd) and Latin (Pastor) root words; however, in both the Old and New Testaments its meaning is someone who the Lord raises up to care for the total well-being of His flock.

Meet, Rev. Richard Johnson, Pastor of We Are One Christian Fellowship. He and his wife, First Lady Ellen, believe we live in a world that is technologically advanced but relationally challenged. According to Rev. Johnson, “Most people in our nation can communicate globally, yet many of us struggle to connect emotionally with someone in the same room. My wife and I realized that people could be in touch with the world and simultaneously be disconnected in our closest relationships.” Though neither chose to shepherd a congregation it didn’t take the couple long to understand that they were slowly becoming more traditionally effective at preaching, singing and shouting, witnessing and giving than living out the Great Commandment (To love God with all your heart and then to love your neighbor as yourself; Matthew 22:36-40) in their own marriage and home.

He shares, “Eventually, Ellen and I began to see that beneath the crisis in our nation was the crisis in our churches. And beneath the crisis in our churches was the crisis in our leaders. And beneath the crisis in our leaders was the crisis in our homes. So, we asked ourselves, ‘Why are churches famous for preaching and singing and not for marriages, parenting, forgiveness, and reconciliation? Why isn’t the world running to Christ’s church for healing relationships with family and friends?’” It’s clear that both desired to have a ministry where the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16) given by Jesus Christ would be utilized and that the very foundation of We Are One Christian Fellowship would come from John 17:22, “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:”

Both Rev. and First Lady Johnson are forever grateful to the initial leadership that was sent by God to bring him to the Lord. Rev. Johnson is reminded of how strategic God can be. He shares, “I gave my life to Christ on October 19, 1986 after being on a 3 or 4-day binge. Ellen and I went to church on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill to the student union building. I was sitting there sinking into depression when the pastor began reading St. John 3:1 and I started saying the verse with him. God is so strategic because that’s the only Bible verse I knew. My Aunt Bunny, who is blind, taught that verse to me when I was six years old from her brail Bible and there I was reciting the only Bible verse I knew after all these years. So, I’m sitting there, and I was starting to get overwhelmed but right at that moment the pastor hit that podium and shouted, ‘Wait a minute! There’s somebody here right now if you die today you don’t know where you’re going to spend eternity! But I’m gonna tell you right now you will bust hell wide open!’ I just knew he was talking to me and before I knew it I was standing at the altar. From that day to this day I’ve never done drugs ever again.”

Mentally, Rev. Johnson struggled with how instantaneously God had delivered him from narcotics. He wondered if the day would ever come when his faith would be tested causing him to be in a backslidden condition. Most Christians have been exposed to the story of Job. You know where the devil went to God and asked Him to remove the hedge of protection from around him, so he could wreak havoc upon his life. Though it may not have been as catastrophic as Job’s story the Johnson’s have certainly had their faith tested in multiple ways.

First, Rev. Johnson was diagnosed with colon cancer then his beloved wife, First Lady Ellen, was stricken with scleroderma an autoimmune disease that hardens the organs in the body. The Johnson’s knew they had to be fully committed in not receiving the diagnosis that the doctors had set before them no matter what things looked like in the natural. Rev. Johnson was reminded by a friend how miraculously God had been delivered from drugs. According to Rev. Johnson, “I understood what being committed looked like because I was committed to doing drugs. I was committed to finding a crack house in every state I moved to. I knew if God could heal me from being a drug addict in one church service then cancer and what my wife was enduring was nothing for Him. He healed me from cancer and He’s healing my wife.”

Rev. Johnson recognizes that God has afforded him the companionship of both Grace and Mercy. Looking back, he can see how even in his darkest days God was still putting him in alignment with his destiny as a pastor. He shares, “Every job I ever had I was always in a leadership position. I was able to move fluidly between the crack house and the business world because I connect easily with people where they are. God used my former life style to help build His Kingdom. I can bring the lost to the Lord no matter where they are because you can’t go any lower than where I was. I know that Jesus will literally pick you up and change your mindset. I teach these things at my church.”

It’s clear to see that the members of We Are One Christian Fellowship are blessed with having an experienced leader who strongly believes that behavior modification and redirecting the way one thinks go hand in hand. First, Rev. Johnson teaches his congregation a systematic process of building a relationship with God. Secondly, he encourages them to implement that God inspired relationship in their family; and finally, they become actively accountable one to another.

He and First Lady Johnson try earnestly to be tangible and annually solicits constructive feedback from their members. He shares, “You know my wife and I were visiting with a family one day and I asked one of the children what they would like to see different at the church. Now I’m thinking the child might say they want a game room or something along those lines but that’s not what he said. Instead, the child told me that he wanted his father to be home more but he’s always at church. Wow, that was a lot to hear especially coming from a child. Then I had to think about that because his father was always at church with me doing ministry. It doesn’t matter how much your wife and children say they understand. It’s the fact that that parent is not home spending quality time with his or her family. That’s counterproductive to what the Word of God says and to what I was teaching. So, I took that assessment from a child and made the necessary changes, so we could all have some balance. I want people to know that when you’re a member of We Are One Christian Fellowship we care about the same things you care about like your marriage, your children, and the direction God has for your life.”

Pastor Johnson has futuristic plans for adding a One Place Development Center, a new sanctuary, and dedicating the existing church building to the children’s Born to Blossom ministry on the 11 acres the church currently owns. He aspires to build a training center where individuals can come to receive a fresh start in life from their past mistakes and acquire basic life skills. Rev. Johnson humbly says, “I don’t hide anything anymore especially if I see my actions in another person. I’ve learned along the way that you can hid a dime with a penny and you can hide a penny with a nickel and you can hide a nickel with a quarter and you can hide a quarter with a silver dollar, but the hiding just gets bigger and bigger. For example, my family would cover me by not telling members how oppressive and explosive I was behind closed doors. So, one day God sits a family before me to show me who I am because the father is behaving just like me. Really, what can I say to that man? How am I going to counsel him and tell him what he should or should not be doing to his family when I’m behaving the exact same way with my own family? So, I have to expose my own behavior in order to help him.”

The man of God couldn’t be more correct in his assessment of his accountability to his congregants because Matthew 7:5 clearly says, “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” Rev. Johnson is quick to admit that he hasn’t always been the man, father, and husband he is today. He shares, “It’s all been a process and I believe that all of the members at We Are One Christian Fellowship make a difference in that process and in the actual lives of the people we serve.”

Richard and Ellen believe the number one need in our society is the pursuit and restoration of intimacy from a Biblical perspective with God, family, the Body of Christ, and the church. We Are One Christian Fellowship is currently striving to Create a “safe place” where they are able to meet people at the point of their needs; where past hurts can be shared and ministered to; where relationships are prioritized; and where a servant leadership lifestyle can be adopted.

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