Bob Johns - my youth pastor from 1994-1997 celebrated 25 years this past week of service to First Baptist Woodway as their Youth Pastor. 25 YEARS!! Most youth ministers stay at one church up to 3 years and then move on to the next church. 25 YEARS!!! That is AMAZING!!!
My freshman year of high school I was invited to go to First Woodway's D-Now called Chi Alpha. My family was attending a small church in Waco that didn't have a youth ministry and though I was a Christian, I was starting to not make the right choices and my friends at the time were having a negative influence on me. I remember Christmas of that first year of high school that I prayed for the Lord to change my heart and to guide me in a new direction. So, I decided after Christmas break that I was going to "find" new friends who were Christians. When this D-Now opportunity came up I was so excited to go. I remember meeting Bob for the first time and seeing how laid back and fun he was. He was so kind and pulled me in right away. The theme for the Chi Alpha weekend was 'Hold on Tight - Let it Go' (I still have that green t-shirt!!:) and that is exactly what I decided to do - let go of my current life, choices, friends and heart and let God move through my life and change me from the inside out. Still to this day it was the major turning point in my life/walk with the Lord. I came home from that weekend and "announced" to my family that I would be going to FBC Woodway from that point on and that they should join me. (It was a process, but I think once my parents saw the changes that Bob and this group of people were making in my life, they made "the move" for me, my brother and my sister's future. AND they are still there today and talk all the time about what a great decision it was for our family. :)
So, that weekend started my journey with the Lord. Here are some things Bob taught me in high school: how to spend time in the Word daily, how to read my Bible and where to start, that there is actually "cool" christian music out there!, how to listen to God's voice, how to worship, how to serve, how to pray, how to stand up for Christ on my sports teams and in classes, being a Christian and going to church are FUN!, how to pray for my friends and teammates who weren't Christians, how to respect my parents, what it takes to keep seeking the Lord through every stage of life, and how to take my insecurities/baggage and lay them at the feet of Jesus.
This incredible man that the Lord placed in my life accepted me for who I was and loved me all the same. He was there when the Lord called me to be a minister's wife my junior year of high school at camp that summer and he helped me navigate those unknown waters. It was even so fun to be one of his only youth to come back and be "on staff" with him when Andrew was the young adult minister at First Woodway for a couple of years. So fun! There were so many mission trips, Sondays Camp memories (too many to name!), Ranger games, road trips, eating out, Bible studies, praying for both Bob and Debbie as they went through the process of adopting baby Hannah, Chi Alpha's, Wednesday Night Live each week and Bob's messages to us, games, music, Burger's Lake, Passion 97 and many more revolve around Bob Johns. What a true gift the Lord gave me and so many others through the years including my bro and sis and even some students I taught at Waco Baptist Academy that are now part of his youth group! Now THAT is weird!!
Bob, I love you and I praise God for your life! Who would have ever thought that little freshman would end up being a pastor's wife?! Thank you for being the amazing godly man that you are and for letting the Lord use you in such ways to impact student's lives for eternity for so many years. You are definitely one of my hero's and I only hope and pray that my kiddos will have a youth pastor as wonderful as you one day!