He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. Acts 11:24
I have been fortunate to have had some great pastors in my life. Pastor Robert Johnson was one of them. I remember there were times when my dad would go on a drunken binge and would disappear for days. My grandmother was a very strong believer. When I was 5 years old she called the church and I remember Pastor Johnson coming over and praying with my mom that my dad would be found and delivered from his drinking. That Sunday Pastor Johnson came and picked up our family and brought us to church.
Pastor Johnson was a man that cared deeply for people. He became known as the city of Montreal’s pastor and was the Chaplin to all the different sports teams in the city. I remember staying up late on Sunday nights to listen to his radio show called Ask the Pastor where people would call in to ask him all kinds of advise. He was a very patient man. He was also one of the greatest bible teachers I have ever heard. I still have many of the tapes of his teachings.
One of the first things that I did with the youth choral was to go into a recording studio to record a jingle for Pastor Johnson’s radio show. It was based on John 3:16.
Within the first year of my coming to Christ, Pastor Johnson resigned to accept a calling in Alberta. It was a sad day. He was the only pastor I had ever known. With the Lord’s help this man had taken a small little church in Verdun and built it into a thriving ministry with about 800 regular members. He had also helped to build a large French congregation as well who would meet on Sunday afternoons and numbered about 500.
It was a challenge to my young faith. Was I following a man or was I following Christ? Many left the church when he left. I found that they were there for the man and not because God had called them to that church. I decided that I was going to stick it out. This was the only church home I had ever known. I was falling in love with so many of the people there and their hearts fore God.
I was never a person that liked hugs. I kind of felt a person was invading my space when they hugged me. Oh it was ok for my mom and grandmother, but others, well… These people loved to hug and I had to try and get used to it. I have to admit though there are times I still want to run from certain people when they want a hug. But the people in this church cared deeply for you and it was what I needed.
The church went through a period of about 3 months where we had an interim pastor by the name of Bill Griffiths. A good man who came from the PAOC head office to fill in while the church searched for a pastor. As the months stretched on we began to wonder if God was going to send anyone to replace Pastor Johnson.
One Sunday morning it was announced that a Rev. Ken Bombay had been invited and accepted to let his name stand for senior pastor. I had never heard of the man, but many people in the church seemed to be very excited at him coming. The said he was a pastor who wasn’t afraid to share the gospel. I was very pleasantly surprised. That morning he preached a message that really inspired the congregation and he received an acceptance vote of over 90%. One of the highest that had ever been heard of. This man would become one of if not the greatest influence in my walk with Christ. I had found someone I could look up to and teach me all about what being a man of God was all about. Pastor Ken and his wife Joan had no children of their own, but spiritually they became parents to many who lost out on having a mom or dad growing up. I was one of them. He would eventually call me son and I would call him dad.
Pastor Robert Johnson is still a pastor of a large church in California.
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