Spring Update!

26 Mar
March 26, 2015

Adoption Update

As you know we’ve been pursuing adoption for a while now and we think that we’ve found our girl! (We have pictures but can’t share them publicly on the web.)

We will call her Lily and she just turned two years old. She came into care at 9 months of age with pneumonia, a heart condition and an issue with her colon. She quickly had heart surgery and slowly got healthy in the hospital and then in foster care.

We first learned about her through our agency’s photo listing late last November. We requested more information and then ran her medical status past a couple of doctors who suggested that we ask some questions. We then sent those questions out and heard back from them in early January. We then took the expanded medical information back to our consulting doctors, prayed a lot and sought council on whether it would be wise to continue to pursue her.

Currently she is very small because of her health problems but gained an encouraging pound and a half in the six weeks between the updates. Her heart problems seem to be fixed but her colon will still need surgery. Lastly she has some developmental delays because of her hospitalizations and health problems. She’s making progress but still has a long way to go before she’s where she’s supposed to be for her age.

Last month we decided that despite the unknowns we felt confident in choosing her!

Next we’ve got a lot more paperwork to fill out for the Chinese government and the US government. We are awaiting official approval from China.  Then we’ve got more paperwork, documents and fees to get through before we finally get to go get her.  Our agency is estimating 5-7 months until we get to travel to pick her up. That puts us into July at the earliest.

Please pray for patience throughout the process, that our paperwork goes through as quickly as possible (with no mistakes) and for her continued progress and good health.

Freshmen Dinner

We are committed to working with the college student age group! There is not only a continuing need to share and disciple people in this time of life but in Ames (as a college town) there is a continuing influx of new students.

I need to stay current with my relationships with the students and one big way that I do that every year is our freshmen dinner, which is coming up this week. We invite all the freshmen and new students over to ou
r house for a meal with my family. This enables them to get to know me, Christie and the boys on a more personal level. They get to see our home and how we live our everyday life.

It obviously also enables me to connect with them, hear what’s on their hearts and what they are concerned with as it pertains to the church, classes, relationships and their future. It’s always a great time!

Training Leadersthisone

If you’ve been keeping track of my ministry you know that I love (absolutely love) working with leaders. Having the chance to discuss the word together, pray together, share vision and strategy, troubleshoot problems and just spend time together is one of my favorite parts of the job.

This year we’ve combined our student leadership training time with the community aspect of the church. I help lead and coordinate what we call the Stonebrook Community Underground and it happens weekly on Wednesday nights. We use this time to do all the things in the paragraph above with the chance to interact with those outside of college as well. This has been great for building multigenerational relationships within the church!

The wisdom of those who have been walking with Christ for 25 plus years is so beneficial for the students to catch a hold of and the excitement and zeal of the students is a good boost for those who have been serving in the trenches.

boysTheo and Elliott

We can’t leave off without updating you on how the boys are doing. Elliott (now 2) is in the midst of potty training and it’s taking time for him to get it down. Some days he seems to be excited about it and some days he wants nothing to do with the bathroom. Otherwise he is speaking in three word sentences and enjoys grabbing his little red Cars guitar whenever I’m playing my guitar and gets a thrill out of playing along.

Theo is Mr. Creative and is always drawing pictures and cutting out shapes to create characters. He loves to script out what his stuffed animals or other toys are saying to one another. Theo loves to include us or the students in on this little game and tell them what to have the toy that they are holding say or do.

Both boys are excited for their little sister to come over from China and pray for her regularly!

Please pray that we make the right decisions for these little guys and challenge them to learn and grow in character, devotion to God as well as knowledge and life skills!

10 Years In Ministry!

09 Oct
October 9, 2014

HELLO EVERYONE!

 

 

I’m embarrassed – I started this letter/post back in June and life hasn’t slowed down enough for me to finish it until now! We came back from the Dells, school started with all of its craziness, we restarted the Friday Night Weekly Rock, I spoke at a retreat in North Dakota a couple weeks back, and by the time this post gets up we’ll probably have completed our adoption home study and had our fall retreat!

I’ll get another letter/post out soon with more details but I did want to celebrate what God has done in and through our lives for the past 10 years that we’ve been in ministry! Many of you have been with us all or most of that time and we are soooo very grateful for all that you have done in support of us!
You have been so faithful to pray, give and keep up with us! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

BACK TO THE BEGINNING!

Let’s go back to the beginning and walk through all that God has done over the last 10 years!
May 2004: Paul graduates, marries Christie and goes full time with Great Commission Ministries!
March 2005: Paul finishes his initial support raising and gets released to active ministry.
Summer 2005: We spend the summer with the SALT program in Chicago, IL.
Fall 2006: Our Zeke’s building fundraiser happens and we work towards a ministry outpost near campus.
March 2007: Paul gets recognized as a pastor in Stonebrook church.
Fall 2007: Zeke’s Grand Opening – we start meeting in our new building!
Summer 2008: We spend the summer with the GCM LT program in Estes Park, CO – Enjoying serving and sharing in the mountains!
Fall 2008: Paul takes over as the campus director of the Rock. A big and exciting change!
March 2009: Paul heads to El Salvador to work with school kids and share the gospel. The trip sees over 40 people come to Christ during the week!
Fall 2009: The Rock multiplies into Helser Hall Dorms and starts many fruitful years there.
Spring 2010: Stonebrook plants LifeHouse Church in Decorah, IA.
June 2010: God brings Theo into our family!
Summer 2011: We spend the summer with the GCM LT program in Virginia Beach, VA.
Dec 2012: God brings Elliott into our family!
Summer 2013: We start a summer leadership training program in Wisconsin Dells, have a fantastic time with 32 students and have the privilege of seeing 18 people come to Christ!
Feb 2014: We apply to adopt from China!
Summer 2014: We spend 8 weeks in the Dells with the students, sharing the gospel, serving and discipling!
Looking back it’s amazing to see the people who have come to Christ, those who have been built and trained in their faith, those who have been sent out, those who have wandered away, those who have stayed faithful, those who have left and those who have stayed. God has been with us (and all those people) through it all, caring for us, encouraging us and strengthening us for his tasks. What a testimony to his love and grace in our lives!
Looking Forward We’re still here and still laboring! God continues to lay the college students on our hearts. Please pray for continued fruit, vision and passion, more laborers and our adoption! Also pray that we’d maintain an excellent marriage and be fantastic parents!

Much love,

Paul, Christie, Theo + Elliott Johnson

Dells in the Rear View Mirror

07 Aug
August 7, 2014

 

We’re back from spending about 8 weeks in Wisconsin Dells this summer (over  two stints there)!

We had 28 students join us from 5 churches in Iowa and Indiana and it was a challenging, growing summer for everyone involved.

We really enjoyed being able to integrate fully with a group that ate a couple of meals a day together, lived in close proximity and shared the gospel and served a ton.

We made lots of new friends, our program saw a couple of salvations, we got to hear some great teachings, undergo some trials and hardships and live out life together in faith.

Thanks to everyone who supported us financially and in prayer – thanks to those who labored with us out there and sacrificed to help make the program possible – and thanks to our partner church in the area Bridgepoint who were invaluable in their aid to us!

More in my next newsletter! 🙂

Christmas in the rear view mirror

04 Jan
January 4, 2014

It’s good to be home. I took some time off between Thanksgiving and Christmas to get refreshed and re-envisioned and it was a really good break. I read a lot, spent a lot of time with my favorite people (Christie and the boys) and even got some house work done.

We also had the pleasure of meeting with both our extended families over Christmas. It’s so good to celebrate Christ’s birth together.

After that we jumped into our annual Faithwalkers and not only were reconnected with our local church family whom we had missed for several weeks but also our extended GCC church family from all over the country.

Coming off Christmas and Faithwalkers I’ve been meditating on what keeps me content and joyful. What can I constantly return to no matter what my situation or  feelings are telling me. I tried to articulate it this way on facebook: The greatest relief is not a sense that you’ve done well enough to escape hell but that you’ve done poorly enough to need Christ’s payment and therefore are assured heaven!

When I’m in touch with my sin as a basic reality I can step away from expectation and effort and relax in the grace that has been given to me. Then I want to do my best for the one who loved me enough to die for me and promise me heaven!

Tom Brown said it this way during his talk at Faithwalkers (I’d encourage you to listen to it – one of the best of the conference): “Because Jesus the lamb was the hero for us I don’t have to be… We are freed from the need to perform for God or for other people”

Christmas is about Jesus coming to earth as a little baby and doing what we cannot do – living a perfect life and then dying the death we deserve so that if we put our faith in him instead of ourselves we get to have his death applied in our place – so we don’t have to face eternal punishment in hell for our offenses toward God. Then it means that we are free to live for him and do what we were created to do. Good works!

This is a little bit of an extension of the topic at hand but these works God has prepared for us and fantastic things we can do for him! That was my seminar topic at Faithwalkers. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Fall in Iowa

19 Sep
September 19, 2013

Here we are in the middle of September and I’m exhausted.

The Rock has been pumping out events, t-shirts, invitations, music, food, signs, posters, but most of all I think this year we’re pumping out the gospel more than we have in the past.

We set our sights on this last spring and I think we’re making progress toward it. The idea was to step up in sharing the gospel even if it meant stepping back in other things.

The challenge is to take advantage of the opportunities given and well, God has been giving us opportunities. Would you pray that we would take those opportunities and that God would reap a harvest through them?

I’m tired, but from the right activities. I’m not tired from lots of meetings, from an abundance of administration of from a flood of ministry minutia. Nope, I’m tired because I’ve been sharing the gospel several times a week for the past month and I’ve been leading, encouraging and equipping others to do so. I’m excited that I’m tired for those reasons.

Does that make sense? 🙂