A Biography of Bishop S. C. Johnson
Founder: Church of the Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith, Inc.
Edited For The AMA Website By:
Chief Elder Charles Ford Walker
"Up from the Land of Degradation, My Lord's Leading Us Home" On that eventful day of November 24, in the little town of Pine Tree Quarters, Edgecomb County, North Carolina; the birth of the infant son to Mr. And Mrs. Johnson, marked the turn of the world's Religious History. The man that would change the landscape of the world’s religion had just been born. The lovely night was calm and serene. The stars spangled the skies with a florescent brightness as the world, the whole horizon seemed to shine with luster of mid-day around the tiny cottage amidst the pines.
Inside the house, everyone hustled about; and preparations were made for the birth of one who was to become a world figure, one who was to bring to the world a new or seemingly new concept of God's eternal word; one so strange that he was to be hated and envied by the multitude; and loved by those who knew and understood him and his gospel best. His boyhood began in the little town of Pine Tree Quarters, North Carolina, in Edgecomb County; Bishop S.C. Johnson first made his appearance into the world. At the age of three months, he was moved from Pine Tree Quarters to Tom's Old Field, N.C. At that time it was snowing, and his mother said that he exclaimed, "Oh, Lord!" as the snow fell into his face. At the age of seven months, he walked. Always active as a child, he began work in the cotton fields at the age of nine - chopping cotton for the meanly wage of twenty-five cents a day. Later, his boss gave him, because of his faithfulness, the same as the adults, forty cents a day.
The memories of his childhood are not all together pleasant ones nor were they always placid and tranquil. The turbulence of his early life's experiences were the underlying factor in the molding of his so distinctive qualities; his moral, was well as his seemingly eccentric characteristics which later in his life would give him advantage in all that he attempted to do. At the age of twelve, he went into public works, at the box mill in Tillery, N.C. Because of his ability to excel he was transferred from the box mill to the planning mill. From the planning mill to mixing room; dragging sawdust across to the boilers and from a wood passer to night fireman at the sawmill. All the hardships of poverty were his. He was of a very meanly birth and existence. But nevertheless, as a child he was ambitious. Never would he be content with menial wages; others were content to squalor in the dire poverty that had been their existence from their birth. They were content with half a loaf, but not this young man
In the year of 1910, he left Tillery and went to Berkeley, VA. There he worked on the old dominion docks. After a short sojourn there, he went to work at the Roster Luraber Company. While there, he lodged at 309 Mahones Ave., in the city of Berkeley, Virginia. Now because of his family ties and his devotion to his mother, he returned to Tillery, N.C. His mother and his brother and himself moved to a farm in Halifax County. There they stayed 2 years and then moved to another farm called the Tilleries Farm and there farmed on shares. Here they stayed 2 years; and in the year of 1915, he went to Emporia, Virginia, hunting work. Finally after a hard struggle, he obtained it at a brick yard. Here he earned $1.00 a night working 12 hours a night. While here he heard of an opening in the E. I. DuPont Power works in Hopewell, VA. He went from Emporia to Hopewell, VA and obtained work. Here he worked 13 hours a night. He was transferred on hour shifts from 7 to 3: and from 3 to 11: and form 11 to 7 in the morning: which is called the swing shift. To every boy, however, how hard the task of earning an existence through life may be, there are events that are most prominent that he can recall; that leaves a pleasant memory. There were the days, back no the farm, when his boyhood home were flooded with torrential rains; then work was impossible. The horizon was darkened and everyone delighted in the fact that they could have a respite from the drudgery of farming for a short, too short season.
There were also the placid, tranquil days when one could get a gun, and a few shells and hunt until his heart was content. Even if game was scarce, one's heart was pacified just to walk along the flat sagebrushes and kick here and there; perchance a rabbit might jump up: and if one did, the yelping of the dogs burned as fever on one's brain. It was wonderful just to walk along and gaze reverently into the blue azure skies and dream reverently of the future. Here it was that his heart was drawn to the Lord God that formed him. As yet, however, he knew little of God of the fact that man should serve Him. That was a fact that was revealed to him much later in his life. Little did he dream of becoming the philanthropist that he is; little did he realize that out of the hardships and sufferings would come the dawning of a new era.
One day, his childhood illusions were shattered forever, seemingly. This event happened one beautiful summer day when work was over and the children were permitted to play until they were appeased. The youthful colloquy turned from life to death. Now "Sherrod", as he was called by his intimates, had never heard of the fact that men had to die and be buried. Suddenly he had to have an affirmation of this fact that he had blundered into. In his imagination he could see himself being buried. He could imagine the cold dark earth secreting him from human vision. Faster and faster he ran. He found his way out of the cotton patch homeward. "Mother, mother," he cried. "Mother, is it true that everyone has to die and be buried?" Cold sweat ran down his brow and he trembled visibly and violently against his mother's knees. His mother soothed his head and pressed him fondly against her breast. She held him thus until his fears had subsided. Gently she explained in her way the difference between life and death. The fact that if a man lived a life acceptable to God he had hope of another life if on the other hand he lived a dissipated life of sin, he was destined to a life of eternal damnation.
His Early Call To The Ministry Perhaps the underlying factor in his coming to Christ, can be accredited to his contact with some people in his community who were members of a Holiness Church in the vicinity. To most people in the settlement they were an erratic bunch; queer to
this extent; they were so much different from the average individual, until their fame spread around the community as being erratic; religious fanatics. The expression was often made that even the mule looked sanctified. One day a lady in question said to Sherrod, then a lad; "Son, how would you like to be Holy?" This question stayed with him, took root, and then grew to be an actuality. In Halifax, N.C. there was a Holiness Church. Here it was that Sherrod Johnson went and here it was that he first heard Holiness preached. Here it was that he deeply considered Holiness. To the other spectators who came in mostly for curiosity, the words might have been the fanatic babbling of some fanatic minister. Here it was that he first knew God. His whole soul cried out for the gift that God promised, the gift of his precious Holy Ghost. One night while in bed, God poured out upon him the gift of the Holy Ghost, as it was received in the scripture; Acts 2:4. Surely his cup was filled to overflowing. From the moment that he received the Holy Ghost, he went around fighting for Christ, as much as he knew.
Then one day Suddenly, from out of the womb of eternity, God spoke; "Peace be unto thee, and again I say, Peace be unto thee; as my father has sent me, even so send I you." This would begin the motion which would one day lead to the greatness he would experience as a minister of the gospel of God. Upon his arriving in Philadelphia, he took residence with his cousin. And as you might expect his cousin was the exact opposite in character. Wherein Bishop Johnson's whole soul, mind and object in life was to be something for the Lord and to do good on this earth; so his cousin's was to fulfill the lust of the flesh. Often were the times when he would accompany his cousin to the various houses of amusement and stand outside and wait for him until it was over to go home, because as yet he hadn't learned the way home. Sickened at the loose way of the sinners and longing for the blessings of God in the vocation to which he had been called.
Because of his desire to live a sanctified lifestyle apart from the lust of the flesh, he moved and took up residence with another boy from his home state. He found lodging in a little room on the third floor, in back of the building. An attic room with a window that at this time of the year was completely covered with ice and snow. There was no heat in the room and very little covering for the bed. Having no money for food, the two of them were forced to share a loaf of bread and some cheese for a number of days. Finally, after a long search, he obtained work.
Now it was here on this job, that he contacted a man who told him the good news, of water baptism in Jesus' name as it was administered in the 2nd Chapter of Acts and 38th verse. Because his heart was open to receive the word of God, he readily went to 1720 South Street and was baptized in the name of Jesus Christ; thus completing his salvation according to God's eternal word. His First Church - His Ministry Brother Johnson became pastor of his first church in the year 1919, at 1524 South 17th Street. He rented a store front at 1754 South 17th Street with the idea of opening a church. After going in and getting it painted and fixed up nicely, the owner of the building said that he didn't want it for a church, but he would let him have it for a store. Since so much time and energy had been spent in fixing the place, Bishop Johnson decided to open a store. The store prospered and at the time that it was sold, it was valued at more than $1300. Father Bruan, who is called by the more familiar name of Father "B"; came over from New York City to visit Bishop Johnson, and while there, he said to him. The Lord wants you to sell out." Immediately, without any hesitation, Bishop Johnson did just that. He gave up everything that he had accomplished and began to go out into the streets and tell the people about this gospel of Christ and the goodness and grace that could and can be found in His righteousness.
After the business was sold out, he had to move. This he did willingly. Then began the long, hard struggle which has at long last come to pass, with blessings abundantly. All of the money that he had was soon used up and he had 1 horse; and the time soon came that he was unable to buy food for it nor for the 1 child that he had at that time. All efforts had failed to get work and one day just as the sun was going down, a man came up and asked if he would go and clean a cellar for him. Truly this was one of God's manifold blessings in disguise. Afterwards, he moved to Styles Street. While at the Styles Street address, Bishop Johnson took the first room of his home for a church. Even thought the battle was hard, his soul had the satisfaction of knowing that he was doing the will of God. Once the water pipe broke in the kitchen of the house and as fortune would have it, it was winter of the year; ashes had to be put on the floor to keep from slipping.
There was no money for bare necessities of life. During this crucial period, the gas was turned off and having no money to buy coal by the ton, Bishop Johnson was forced to take a bucket and carry coal into the house, in this manner. When the time came for the rent to be paid, Bishop Johnson had to go on Chestnut Street and suffer the humiliation of never having all the money for the rent. The rent collector would say to him when he would see him coming in, "How are you Doctor," because he knew he was a preacher. His mind was recalled to the scripture where God called Gideon a mighty man of valor. But in spite of all this, he told God that he would hold on and this he did. When all hope was gone, he held on. When hungry, cold, barefooted, destitute; when down to his last pair of pants, he preached the gospel. He was determined to bring to the world a gospel above reproach. While in New York one year preaching, he could see a tent set up. The people gave an offering of $240.00. He took the money that had been raised and bought a tent and set it up at 45th and Aspen Streets in Philadelphia. The children annoyed him so, he moved to 58th and Race Streets. There he had every kind of chair that you could mention in the tent. From this tent meeting, Elder Johnson moved to 11th and Warnock Streets and obtained a building there. His membership increased to about 12. He stayed there approximately 1 year and then moved to 911 Master Street.
During this the depression that swept the country during the late twenties and early thirties had reached its peak. It was only the blessing of the Lord that enabled them to pay the expenses that were eminent. A few years later, from 25th and Jefferson, he moved to 22nd and Ridge Avenue. Here he stayed for a while and moved to 1748 N. 22nd Street. At this time, he became tired of the slack, loose way of the head Bishop of his movement that he was with at that time. He had been ordained Bishop, in the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, so the Lord said to him, "Come out from among them and be ye separate." This he did and with a remnant of the saints, started his own work. He called the church, "The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith." One Sunday morning, Bishop Johnson was led across the street from his church to a vacant lot that was there. It was then he said to the saints that he was going to build a church. It was about the middle of the great depression and all of his people were begging bread on the welfare and in general it was the most trying years of the depression. Bishop Johnson began to preach faith to the people. He told them to trust God for food and the necessities of life and told them to come off the welfare. They obeyed and with most of the people out of work, they were able in the face of all this to build a tabernacle for God in eleven weeks. From this time forward all those who were members of the Bishop Johnson movement knew that this humble man was indeed a true man of God and that victory would always be his regardless to the odds. And that the mountain would always be conquered no matter how large the size and how steep the summit.
In September 1945, Bishop S.C. Johnson with a caravan of trucks, a house trailer, his two Packard automobiles; and accompanied by some of the saints, motored to Milford, Delaware. Here a tent was set up for a great tent meeting and an old fashion revival. He stayed here almost for 1 month with services almost nightly and nearly 100 souls were baptized in the name of Jesus and many were filled with the Holy Ghost. People traveled for miles to hear the gospel of Christ preached. Souls were baptized from as far north as New York, and of all creeds and nationalities. In spite of the victories won for Christ, as usual the hardships had to be endured. We were often told by him, that we all must be able to endure hardness to show ourselves as good soldiers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The first weeks of camp meeting were filled with those rare beautiful days with the sky brilliant blue, topped with frosty white clouds, scattered here and there over the horizon. The wind blew warm and gentle: and the trees blew gold, swayed in rhythm to the breeze. It was good to be alive and see the wonderful workings of God in nature. As the scriptures say, "The heavens declare the glory of God and the earth showeth His handiwork." The warm weather of fall brews a storm quite often, as we were soon to learn. The next week of camp met with inclement weather and naturally brought cold winds in. During this storm, the tent was blown down. An emergency call was made to Bishop Johnson, who was in Philadelphia at the time and he immediately came down with men to repair and raise the tent again. For a few days the battle against the storm raged; for it was the hurricane that swept the Atlantic Coast in the fall of 1945. By the end of the week everyone was exhausted, trying to keep the tent erected and ready for Sunday services. Bishop Johnson had to have the radio line moved in from Philadelphia, and the broadcast reached the people every Sunday from Milford, Delaware.
The storm which had wrought havoc to so many coastal towns, still raged on Saturday night. Perhaps it had reached its intensity by then. As a last resort, Bishop Johnson had stationed the saints inside the tent; each lent his feeble support to one of the great poles that supported the big tent. Almost in vain, it seemed as the tent swayed and groaned against the pitching and tossing of the wind. Water, dark and swirling began to mount with deadly assurance, as it seeped under the flaps of the tent. Horrified, the saints watched its snail-like ascension. In the mind of each of them was the thought that if the water reached the transmitter of the broadcasting instruments, the many listeners who waited impatiently for the sound of Bishop Johnson's voice over the radio would be disappointed. Unless some miracle of God intervened, the tent was in danger of being blown down, for the broadcast the next day. The fury of the storm beat upon the flaps of the tent and shook it as though it was paper. All hope of being delivered had just about faded when suddenly the winds began to reside; the waters mounting so steadily began to subside. A soft gentle wind began to blow and the waters dried up in the tent and around the tent. Truly God had heard and answered prayer. He had indeed worked a miracle in the midst of His people. When the bus loaded with the saints arrived from Philadelphia the next day, there was no evidence of the near tragedy of the preceding night. As evidence, God’s prevailing peace would always surround this man and all the efforts he was called to accomplish in the name of Jesus Christ. Serenity would always prevail and after each and every storm a better day would always lie ahead. And in those better days that were always to come God continued to work greater and greater miracles in the ministries of Bishop Johnson.
Soon it was for all the world to know that God worked many miracles at the hand of our dear, beloved Bishop Johnson. Among the most outstanding could be mentioned the healing of a man's eyes who had come for services, and was sitting well in the rear of the tent. There were two signs in the front of the tent and one of them was Acts 2:38. After preaching, Bishop Johnson asked for candidates for baptism, and this man came forward, toward the front of the tent, weeping. It was then that he said that he could not see to read the signs until the call was made for baptism; then the Lord opened his eyes, and he was able to read the signs. He then demanded to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. It was a lovely day; beautiful to perfection. There was a small lake near the site of the tent and it was this spot that Bishop Johnson chose for baptism. The lake was about 50 feet wide at the mouth, here the banks were about 6 feet high on each side and at one end tapered off until it was level with the water. Here the candidates were taken and Bishop Johnson waded in until the water reached the waistline. Each candidate was brought over a small ledge that led from the highway, over the banks of the cliff to the water for baptism. It was a lovely scene. Late in October, the caravan returned to Philadelphia. Tired in body and badly in need of rest physically, but elated at the spiritual victory that had been won.
Development in Delaware
There is an odd American adage that says "to the victor belongs the spoils." This was comparatively true in the cause of Bishop Johnson's advent to Delaware. He had won a spiritual victory, but to him fell the responsibility of finding a locality easily accessible from all of the outlying towns and villages. In other words, since the folks who had come to Christ had come from all the outlying towns, a central point had to reached as nearly as possible. After what seemed an unfruitful search, Bishop S.C. Johnson was able to purchase a desirable plot of ground on Route 16, between the towns of Ellendale and Milton, Delaware. This was indeed a blessing from the Lord and Bishop Johnson and the saints were elated at his good fortune. This was a piece of virgin timber land and it had to be cleared and the ground made ready for the building that had to be erected. Cement blocks had to be formed for the foundation of the church, and a jumble of other infinite things too numerable to mention, had to be done.
This first winter of building, little progress was made above the foundation and a portion of the walls. In the summer of 1947, Bishop Johnson asked the cooperation of the brothers to help complete the tabernacle in Delaware, before the winter's snow rendered building impossible. In the meantime, a tent was raised for services during the summer months, and fruitful meetings. To date, the building in Delaware, is still going on and by the help of God, will soon be completed. Under shrewd guidance of our Bishop, a lumber camp has been erected and the ring of axes and the hum of the saw sounds throughout the Delaware community. It was not long before he set up sawmills on the grounds. Things got off to a slow start the roads were bad, if they were called roads. A long process of cutting away had to be done. The men battled against soon coming winter, because once winter came, the work would almost come to a standstill.
Sturdy limber packs went into the woods to match man's strength against statue like trees. The sound of constant hacking, a sudden will scream of "Timber", then the swish clash sound of the fallen trees. These fallen tress had to be taken to nearby sawmills, and then to the trains. However, the work was behind schedule. The trees were not coming to the mill fast enough, or when they did come, the saw would break down. When the mills were in good shape, there wasn't anyone there to run them. With all of this pending, winter came. It came bringing with it, heavy rains and deep snow. This made the bad dirt roads soft and muddy. The trucks laden with logs found it impossible to get out of the roads. Bishop Johnson bore these things like a true soldier. One could see him in his hunting clothes overseeing and doing odd jobs here and there. I remember it was on one of these jobs that a nail hit him in the eye. My heart pounded and the name of Jesus rushed from my lips. He walked a few paces from us to talk to the Lord, finally all was well. He came back and resumed his job. That night we were entertained by Bishop Johnson in the house on the tabernacle grounds. He related some of his experiences, while we sat around cracking pecans and feasting on the goodies that were presented to us. The worried strain had left his face as the evening went on, and a boyish smile lit his face. He knew that the harder the devil fought, the greater to victory in the end.
This proved true, for when he returned to Philadelphia, he came across something almost impossible to believe. It was a saw ran by motor. All one had to do was to put in gasoline, start the motor and hold the saw against the tree. This saw went through the tree in the same manner as a bread slicer would slice bread. Bishop then bought new saw mills to handle the work, and hired new men to operate the mills. Now the sawmills are turning in dividends and proceeds are going to the furtherance of the gospel. Our hearts are lighter now and greater joy is flowing through our souls. We contribute these factors to Bishop Johnson being with us more now, than he was in the last few months. With the sawmills running smoothly, he is now able to be with us on our Tuesday and Thursday night services. If one would observe him closely, they would see that he wears a more contented look. This is because his joy is in the people of God, and declaring the gospel of the Lord.
It is thrilling to witness him coming into the church at 22nd and Montgomery Ave. The audience would rise and sing, "Remember Me" as he came in, and knelt to pray. One could feel the closeness of the Lord. I suppose we felt similar to the children of Israel, when they stood, as Moses entered the tent. It was not long after he had entered that he stood and delivered a message directly from the Lord. The name of Bishop Johnson is becoming very popular throughout the states. His popularity is due to the gospel that he preaches. People come to see this man who preaches such strict Bible. They come and confess that the gospel he preaches is true. Men and women from all walks of life, people of many races, creeds and colors visit us.
Yes, they come to debate on what they have heard preached by Bishop Johnson. The night usually allotted for this purpose is Tuesday night. There have been many who came and debated on different subjects. The preachers would walk up to the pulpit to fight Bishop Johnson. Bishop Johnson would let them enjoy themselves, picking scripture, here and there that digressed from the point. Finally, Bishop Johnson would hold them to the point and ask of them the direct chapter and verse to prove their subject. They would wiggle, squirm of stammer, then break out in losing sweat as Bishop would confirm them to direct scripture. To give you an illustration of one of these debates, I would like to relate the final blow that Bishop placed on one of the false prophets.
The debate this night was with a man that Bishop had debated with several times before. This man did not believe that Jesus was the mighty God. He had switched and jumped over the point, failing to give a satisfactory answer. Nevertheless, this night Bishop was determined he was going to die the death of the uncircumcised. He told him that he was going to kill his erroneous doctrine and demanded of him a direct answer before the people. Apparently, he believed Bishop because he tried to get out of the debate, but the tense waiting audience would hear none of this. As he started to walk out, the people called him back, they came to hear a debate and a debate they were going to have. The debater came back to the pulpit and made his opening address. Stated his platform and the debate was opened. He read quite a few scriptures that didn't prove the point. Then Bishop questioned him on Isaiah. 9:6, which stated, that his son, which is to be born will be called the Mighty God. Bishop asked him, "Didn't Isaiah say, that this son was the mighty God?" Again and again Bishop hammered this question. Perspiration of defeat washed all the starch out of Bishop's opponent. Reluctantly he answered, "Yes!" A loud rushing sound was heard from the audience as he stood there beaten. He tried to regain himself and said, Jesus is not God. Bishop Johnson then asked him, "Did Isaiah lie?" The audience waited for his reply. The debater looked out on the faces of the people that had come to see how he would stand. He must have thought, "What will I do now, what road will I take?" The voice of Bishop Johnson was again heard, "Did Isaiah lie?" Now the debater knew that his time had come, he must answer. What would his answer be? It was, "Yes!" He had said that "Isaiah had lied." Crescendo-like gasps were heard from the audience. This man had stood and lied in the face of the Bible.
New York City
It was the summer of 1944 that Bishop S.C. Johnson, accompanied by some of the saints, ventured to New York City after a series of great and fruitful broadcasts that stirred a few of the honest hearted people longing for the true gospel of Jesus Christ. It was around 4 o'clock in the afternoon, on a very humid day in July, when this travel weary party arrived in new York, and ventured to New York's famed East Side. I am sure that everyone has heard of this section of New York which has reached its fame because of the gangs of "cutthroats" and characters of low degree that inhabit this particular section. The "slum" area of New York, and I do say, that no one in describing this section as "slums" has underestimated or underrated it as being such. It was here that Bishop Johnson went and here that he stayed the entire time he was in New York establishing the church there. We mentioned this particular event to show you how the "Man of God" humbled himself and suffered the heat and the squalor of this poverty stricken area simply to get to the people longing for the light of the gospel, the true word of God. It is really wonderful to see Bishop Johnson swing into action. Immediately, everything begins to move. One would think that it would take days for such a project as starting a church from "scratch" to get started. No sir; not so with Bishop Johnson. The same day he arrived, in spite of the acute housing shortage, he secured the second floor of a building at 216 W. 116th street as the site of the church. This particular floor had formerly been used as a meeting room for a political club. The interior was really in a dreadful condition. It had to be made presentable in about a two weeks period of time, for our Bishop had announced an opening date and everyone was anxiously awaiting the arrival of that date. Out of the jumble of infinite things that had to be done, a pulpit had to be made, a pulpit stand to be built, a pool built, signs painted for the interior and also the exterior, chairs painted for the interior and also the exterior, chairs bought, paint, and rugs. Oh, so much had to be done until personally my heart fainted within me. "How could we few people do all of the work there that had to be done?" I asked myself. It was so hot until even the air that stirred once in a while seemed to sear our skin as it passed by.
Listlessly, we wandered about the tasks that had been assigned to us. Only Bishop Johnson, alone, seemed to have any energy left after the heat sapped all strength and all vitality from the rest of us. He was tireless and undisturbed by the situation that had confronted us. He seemed to add strength and a will to do, to the rest of us as we watched him working at the different tasks to be performed. Busily hustling about up and down the stairs arranging different matters and calling in different men to assist with the work. Buying wood for the pulpit, paints, etc. Everything and everybody seemed to look to him for the necessary power to operate. This he gave incessantly. When everything was settled, much later, it looked as if it had stood undisturbed for years. No one realized the hardships Bishop Johnson had gone through to put everything there for our convenience. Once I heard Bishop Johnson make a parable; it was that on the United States Post Office building there is a sign that says, "Neither rain, winds, snow or heat can stop the United States Mail;" how much more the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
After what seemed an endless expanse of time and after countless effort, we were able to stand after two weeks had expired and gaze upon the completed tabernacle of the Lord. For one full week services were held in New York City. From far and near the people gathered until the building was completely filled. Maybe many came mostly out of curiosity, but we can say assuredly, they heard the true word of God. From Philadelphia, many of the saints traveled over and joined the crowd of people already waiting in New York City; many of who had been baptized in Jesus' name and filled with the Holy Ghost. But in New York City, we find it as we have everywhere else we have journeyed, the truth of the gospel was sadly needed. Many souls were born to the church at the time and they rejoiced in the God and rock of their salvation. From time to time during the year, Bishop Johnson journeyed back and forth to New York and began to destroy the kingdom of Satan in that city. A challenge came from a false prophet to our Bishop for a debate on Jesus Christ's being God. Readily, Bishop Johnson accepted the challenge and the debate was held in New York City. After the negative side presented their "tissue paper" argument, Bishop Johnson came forth and battered it into a million pieces with the truth of the word of God. We can say as I heard one philosopher say, "We witnessed a magnificent extravaganza," words flowed from the lips of Bishop Johnson as though they were drops of liquid silver: each one more desirable, more highly esteemed than precious stones of jewels. Do you wonder why we follow him? Why we are willing to go all the way with him? Because we are certain of his steadfastness. Because we know of a certainty that he is God called and God sent; because we have witnessed with our own eyes; and have heard him with our own ears "fight each beast" and rise the victor in all his combats. Do you wonder that we will be ever grateful to him for guiding our feet to the highway of life? That we will always be obligated to him for snatching us out of the clutches of false prophet who preyed upon us as voracious beasts, devouring the very life out of our souls; completely destroying all hope of eternal life. We can never praise God enough for giving to us such a man as Bishop Johnson.
Sometimes under the anointing of the Holy Ghost, he gives one the impression of not being like other natural men; but with the glory of God shining forth from the contours of his face, there is something eternal about him. Here is another reason that we know that he is God called and God sent. Once I remember through the many vicissitudes that has taken place in the too short period of time that we have known Bishop Johnson, one incident that has always been pregnant in my mind and I think I always will remember. Perhaps others were not impressed as I was, but to me it was a wonderful example of Bishop Johnson's self control in the time of a crisis. The lights of Manhattan trickled in the distance as we crossed the bridge that led from downtown New York to the tunnel that would bring us toward Philadelphia. It was about 1 o'clock at night and everyone was rejoicing in his heart at the blessing of the Lord that had been showered upon us while in services. Suddenly in the glare of the automobile headlights, we saw tiny drifts of snowflakes, gilt-edged in the light. In a few minutes the snow began to beat in thick blinding sheets. Brother James McDowell, who is the chauffeur for our Bishop, had to continuously get out of the car in order to keep the snow away from the windshield. Fluffy bits of snow splashes worked dutifully trying to retain a certain amount of visibility which was necessary to retain his position on the road. In route, we passed trucks that had overturned. We saw auto accidents, men cut, battered and bruised from the assault of the storm. Everything seemed oddly distorted and misplaced. Exactly how did the road curve? I am trying to describe to you the seriousness of the situation we were forced into, to outline a portion of this great snow storm. If you could have seen how calmly Bishop Johnson took the whole situation, surely you would have wondered how he could remain undisturbed in the face of such grave danger. He sat with his head resting lightly on the back of the seat and I am sure that he prayed continuously until the Lord delivered us safely at home in Philadelphia. God has worked many miracles in the life of our dearly beloved Bishop and New York City will long remember the echoes of truth that has prevailed in that great and wicked city. We know, however, that the very words that went forth out of the mouth of Bishop Johnson will be used as a witness against them in the day of judgment.
Victory in North Carolina
As you perhaps have noticed, we are not giving you a chronological account of the life of Bishop Johnson; that is, we are not giving a year by year description, but rather to consummate the time, we are dealing mainly with his victories in various states. Some years ago, Bishop Johnson had been called to New York City to preach and while there, he heard the spirit speaking and saying North Carolina. He obeyed the will of the Lord and journeyed to North Carolina. He had for ten years previously, been trying to get the gospel to that state, but had never broken through. At this particular time, he ventured again to that vicinity and visited a church there. When he was invited to preach, he began to bring truth to the souls there. This as I said before, was the first time after 10 years of trying to break through the strong hold of Satan in the state of North Carolina, that he was successful. The spirit gave him a song which he sang from the depth of his soul. Slowly the walls that Satan had built around the hearts of some there began to crumble; for before the true word of God, it could not stand. Some few souls were won for Christ; some of whom have lift the blood stained banner of Christ high, even until this day. In later years, Bishop Johnson made many trips to North Carolina. The most outstanding we will try to recount here. In Oxford, North Carolina, Bishop Johnson acquired a small building which was soon run over with people the first night that he held services. Later one of the leading citizens of Oxford asked if he would use a vacant warehouse for services. This could accommodate hundreds of people and was really a blessing from the Lord.
During a short visit to South Carolina, Bishop Johnson was obtained to hold services. This was done because the mission there was entirely too small to hold the people that would naturally come to hear services. Perhaps most came out of curiosity, but never-the-less, they heard the true word of God. The gospel trailer was sent out and announcements were made concerning the services, and this great man of God. Although his sojourn in South Carolina lasted about one week, many were stirred while he was there and as his fame was just about spreading around the town, he made his departure. One soul accepted water in Jesus' name. This has been but a short account of the many places that our beloved Bishop Johnson has visited. I am afraid that if we were to attempt to write all that has happened to him in his early eventful life, that volumes upon volumes couldn't contain the facts. We hope that you have enjoyed reading this bibliography as much as we have enjoyed delivering into the past and bringing a few facts to you to get an idea of the lean years in which Bishop Johnson struggled to attain the place in which he stands today. The years of joy and tears, of sorrow and of laughter and great blessings in the Lord. For Bishop Johnson, there stretches forth a great future. A new horizon arises, new conquests, and a new era of Christianity. Boldly, his feet are treading down the forces of evil. The banner of Christ he has pushed to loftier heights for all men to see; that they might know what is the fellowship of the mystery of Christ Jesus. May God bless you, Bishop Johnson, may you and the truth of the gospel go marching on! On to a sweeping victory for Jesus, our Lord! THE CHURCH OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST of the APOSTOLIC FAITH, INC In the City of Philadelphia BISHOP S. C. JOHNSON, Pastor
End of Part One Of The Biography Of The Late Bishop S. C. Johnson
The last years of the life of Bishop Johnson will be added to this document in the near future and will be taken from the many documents that have been and will be written by Chief Elder Charles Ford Walker on the life of this great Apostle of our Lord Jesus Christ. Much of this material will be added during the year 2003 and at a later time. However this that is given will extend to many, extended knowledge concerning this great man of God and provides insight on the contributing factors that made him the towering individual, full of faith, love, life, truth and the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
Blessed be all the Saints of the most High God,
Elder Charles Ford Walker