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Mississippi experience prepared youth minister for missionary work

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (BP)–His time in Mississippi was part of God’s preparation for Chuck Johnson for working with youth all over the Caribbean.
Johnson was appointed an International Mission Board missionary after serving on the staff of First Baptist Church, Madison, Miss., and as a contract consultant with the Mississippi Baptist Convention.
“That was a really good experience, ” Johnson says of his time in Mississippi.
As a youth consultant, Johnson traveled all over the state training youth ministers in how to teach youth and work with them. Often, in going to a leadership conference, Johnson would travel with missionaries home on stateside assignment. New missions youth material was just being introduced.
This reinforced the call toward international missions Johnson had felt since he was a high school junior growing up in Georgia.
“I’d talk one-on-one with them and they would say, ‘We need youth people,’” Johnson recalls.
After graduating from high school, Johnson went to Shorter College, a Baptist college in Rome, Ga. He served as a summer missionary in Canada one summer, working with a youth team using drama and music to present the gospel in tourist magnets like Jasper, Banff and the Calgary Stampede.
In contrast, another summer he worked in inner-city missions in Washington.
During the school year, he was also highly involved in missions. He served three years on the revival teams.
After finishing college, Johnson went on to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
When he got to seminary he concentrated in the areas of communications and missions. “They told me there was really no overlap between missions and media.”
Johnson soon found out differently. One of his first professors at seminary was Mickey Searcy, director of the Caribbean Communications Centre, which produces both literature and electronic materials for Baptists of the Caribbean.
In 1997 when one of the International Mission Board’s priority requests was for a youth specialist in the Caribbean region, Johnson was quick to respond. As in most of the Third World, youth comprise a large percentage of the total population in the Caribbean nations.
“I called an hour after they got the job description, ” Johnson says. “The match was made there.” The request was for someone with youth ministry experience and a background in communications.
“It’s neat how God worked it out, ” says Johnson. He edits the youth material for Sunday school and Vacation Bible School and is developing youth discipleship and evangelism materials as well as video training requests. The materials are used not only by the churches themselves but also volunteers going to Caribbean nations.
He makes three or four field trips to visit Baptist youth in the Caribbean each year to be in the youth meetings and youth camps. Here he gets to know those for whom he is creating material in an in-depth way. Use of on-line computer materials is just beginning. The Centre has an Internet site but Johnson envisions greatly expanded uses such as chat rooms where Caribbean Baptist youth could interchange news and ideas.
Johnson is single and sees this as an advantage.
“I think it’s interesting how God uses a single guy. I can be flexible in my travel and can hang out with the youth, ” he says. “God can use single men and women on the mission field. Maybe God can use my example to challenge other singles.”

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  • Wally Poor