Being thankful is so important today. Often people get so wrapped up in what they do not have in this life like a huge paycheck, a fancy home, expensive clothes. All sounds pretty superficial but is what people tend to put stock into. I was never one of those individuals, growing up although I had a roof over my head, clothes on my back and food in my tummy, I was never wealthy in the material sense of the word.
I had love of my mother, father, grandfathers (When they were alive), sister, dogs , cats, now daughter, wife and others I may have left out no intentionally.
A Man I give Thanks to
But Its important today to thank a man who I do not wish to forget. This man does not know me, we’ve shook hands years ago, but he was the man that brought to Christ, Pastor Jeff Johnson of Calvary Chapel Downey.
Last nights service I watched online, which I do not always get to do because I am teaching at that exact same time. But this service was special, it was more of a tribute to the senior pastor who started Calvary Chapel Downey in Late seventies. Take a look at who Calvary is : Who We Are — Calvary Chapel Downey (ccdowney.com)
This man changed my life at a time when I was lost but It was also an incredible time as I had just met my future wife Delia and I had made new friends, something I hadn’t had for many years. One new friend was also a new co-worker I had met who would be the person who would introduce me to my future wife. This friend who shall be unnamed because we are no longer friends, invited me to her church.
I had been to church before but not this church as I had driven past it all the time, having grew up in Downey as a teen. I did not the protocol for going to church which sounds silly but I stopped off at our local Starbucks so I could bring my new friend and co-worker only to be told when I got to the door that outside food was not allowed so I tossed the drinks in the trash, which now I think of it was foolish and a waste because I simply could have place them back in my car, but I was in a rush not to disappoint my friend who was waiting for me.
Pastor Jeff as we called him was a another gentle with a beard, gray/white hair, a kind face and an easy-to-understand voice spoke to me. I personally do not remember the message I am sorry to say I do not recall. But what I do remember is the feeling that something that was missing within my soul was being filled by the words from the pastor. I felt a sense of relief that I did not have to suffer or worry about where my soul may go when I die one day.
Gods Perfect Timing
Thinking that if I had died on February 2007 at my own hands I would be in hell as I would not have had a relationship with Christ Jesus. At this time in my life I was working of course, living in the house of hell in Downey with the devil incarnate my grandfather Raul and mother. I made a choice right there any then to continue to come back. I did not give my life to Christ on that day, but would come back every Sunday and Wednesday and even come on Thursday for a Men’s bible study. I remember those days clearly in a way coming to church on my own and weeping in the pews hearing the words of Jesus speak to me.
Calvary Downey became my home church. It was here that I also met new people, pastors and even a time when myself and Delia temporarily separated that I met other single adults. I continued to attend bible studies and eventually I even joined a home bible study with an old friend Joe and Dora Chivira who were a couple who I met in High school parents of a couple class mates. Yes 2008-to about 2013 I was deep in the word of God, not that I am not today.
Pastor Jeff did not die , but was handing over the reins of senior pastor to Art Reyes who I feel is a good fit for pastor, looking around my age maybe younger. Being that I live over 45 miles away from Downey now, I watch online.
Pastor Jeff and his ministry will be missed. Hearing and learning that he came to Christ when he was invited to Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa attending Chuck Smith’s church at the time. This was during the Jesus revival when many hippies came to Christ. Jeff was no different in the sense, he was actually a drug dealer at the time, newly married and a child having a come to Jesus moment and then a movement where GOD would move in his life making incredible things happen.
When in my relationship with my future wife Delia, we would attend Church together and we would also attend her Spanish speaking church called Tabernaculo Baptista of Los Angeles. When we had our daughter Mikaylah we would bring her and attempt to put her in the nursery but at times she refused to go and when we would leave her she would cry and we would have to be called to pick her up, ending up in the overflow room.
Those moments were special nevertheless as we spent time together in GOD’s word. Today we are still a Christ following family but often find it difficult to attend physical service as my wife works on Sundays, Mikaylah I am sorry to say does not wish to go, but I MUST, and I do.
Jeff taught us that Christ is the glue that holds us together and I believe that. I remember leaning on the church when I lost my jobs and pastors would pray for me and in time it did get better. It was incredibly difficult in the years of 2014-2018, where I struggled financially , being a new parent and husband was challenging and often I would cry out to the Lord for help and he did come to my aid.
Many of you out there may not be believers but for me and my house we serve the Lord. I know I fail at times teaching my daughter the word of God. I do have bibles for children and books relating to the bible I’ve read to her at night, but I must do better, I must her soul depends on it. Since giving my life to Christ I have followed many ministries and have gone to different churches in the Calvary family such as Chino Hills with Jack Hibbs and Greg Laurie of Harvest and others. Christ is always in my life, but I know from many years ago I can do better with my relationship, something I think about every day.
My life was changed in 2008 due to Pastor Jeff and I am forever thankful for his teachings , love , kindness and warm soul when I did meet him, embodying a true Christian. I know he is still a man and he fails like any other man and women and I understand he is not perfect, even has even mentioned that in his services have prodigal kids.
This is a man I will forever be grateful for and hope that others including my wife and daughter know this man is special in my eyes and the Lords.
God Bless you Pastor Jeff and your family , Thank you, thank you for I am forever grateful for your love for GOD and your teaching.