by Greg Johnson
My story may be a bit different than others in that I didn't grow up in the church...I was a rock band drummer who had a near-death experience with drugs when I was 18 and made the familiar fox hole confession "if you get me through tonight God, I'll give my life to you." And then breathe a sigh of relief the next day and go about my business as if it never happened.
Funny thing was, I couldn't forget about it and deep down knew that God had saved my life so three months later I went forward at a local church, confessed Jesus as Lord and was baptized. Eight months later I broke down sobbing after a revival meeting and enrolled in Christian college three days later.
What kind of ruined it for me was that my Pastor gave me a Living New Testament and asked me to read Mark, then Acts to get an idea of who Jesus is and then get an idea of what the church is. I was so jazzed that I read those books and the almost the rest of the NT, except for Revelation, which I couldn't understand after I got past chapter 4. God's word was imprinted on my heart and turned out to be worlds apart from what I experienced in either Bible college and seminary or the local church.
I was involved in full-time ministry as a Sr Pastor in downtown Los Angeles and Inglewood for 18 years, then servered as a part-time Pastor to smaller congregations for 12 more years while I worked a "secular job" (see below) before I got out of ministry all together in 1998. I am currently a part of a house church network in Simi Valley, volunteer in Epiphany Ministry which is an outreach to incarcerated youth, and volunteer in 3-day weekend ministries like Walk to Emmaus and Via de Cristo.
Along the way I worked with some great leaders and one of them was in software development. There was an opening for a technical writer at his company and he asked if I was interested, I said that I didn't know much about computers (this was in 1988) but I was more than willing to give it a try. He said he could get me the interview but not the job.
Well, the interview went great and I wrote my first software user guide for an International Money Transfer system ahead of schedule and while looking through the software program uncovered numerous bugs that the developers had missed. I was amazed! Since that time I have worked for several large corporations, including Citibank and Countrywide as a technical writer and more recently as a Software Quality Assurance Analyst.
A friend of mine was let go from a church and was in a quandry regarding what to do, but interviewed at a number of Missions (similar to the Salvation Army) and he now runs a growing street mission location in the San Fernando Valley that includes homeless housing, job placement, and the sale of donated vehicles.
Another friend of mine was the founder of a church that eventually closed and he is now the executive director of the local crisis pregnancy center.
I have been trained to be a Corporate Chaplain for Marketplace Ministries and am currently awaiting for an opening in my immediate area.
A side job that I have had was as an editor for Gospel Light Publishing for 3-4 years, however, they are doing all of there work in house now, but I'm guessing that there might be opportunities at other publishing houses out there.
Another option that I have looked into is prison ministry, as there are opportunities to become a chaplain at a prison as a paid position.
Hope that is helpful,
Simi Valley, CA
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