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Oh, the places you will go!

By the Rev. Angela Renee Johnson

Before I graduated from Winthrop University, I remember the Rev. Narcie Jeter reading the book, “Oh the Places You will Go,” by Dr. Seuss.

This book continues to remind me that life is a journey that God directs. Over the years, I have realized that Angela Renee must follow the plans that God continue to lay out.

My call/journey: For some, it is a small voice inside of them. For others, it is a tap on the shoulder. For me, it is the joy I receive from talking with other ministers, helping others and growing in my faith journey with Jesus Christ.

My journey started in The United Methodist Church. Being baptized, confirmed and growing up in the church geared me up for this calling from God. As a young high school student, my calling to work in ministry started with being a part of the Conference Council on Youth Ministry. On the CCYM, I had the opportunity to work with young people across the state of South Carolina. June Willson and the CCYM gave me the chance to nurture, evangelize and find Christ with other young people.

As a college student, my participation in the Wesley Foundation helped develop my growth into who God wanted me to be. In 2006, the Winthrop Wesley Foundation received a new campus minister, the Rev. Narcie Jeter. With excitement and a new focus for the Wesley Foundation, little did I know that Narcie would have such an impact on my life and help me listen to God’s calling. The Wesley Foundation engaged me with young people and gave me an opportunity to participate in a “young people’s calling conference.” Exploration 2006 allowed me to talk to other ministers, discern and redefine where God was calling me.

For eight years, I have been in ministry with young people in UMCs. The ministry journey has been rocky at times, but who said life would be easy? The journey has allowed me to grow and understand life while working with all of God’s children. The small obstacles I have had to face have prepared me for what is yet to come. God has big plans for me and the people with whom I come in contact. My calling comes from God, but I hear and see what I am supposed to be doing through others. God has given me the gift to nurture and spread His word and the ability to be real.

Since I have found authenticity with Christ, I have learned the hard way that I must listen to what He is telling me. For so long, I focused on what Angela wanted to do; I did not listen to what God wants me to do. As I have loved, struggled and grown, I have realized that it is not about me, but it is about God. Jeremiah 29:11 states, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I feel strongly about my call as a deacon. A deacon is ordained to word, service, compassion and justice. As I look at the journey thus far, I am thankful to serve meals at Action Ministries’ downtown Atlanta, Georgia. I am honored to have the opportunity to complete clinical pastoral education at the number one hospital in the southeast, Grady Memorial Hospital. I enjoy going to speak to deacon candidates at Candler School of Theology.

Before this journey, I thought I would be the next Oprah Winfrey. I thought I would be telling people, “You get a car, and you get a house…” Yet, I am still reminded of the book, “Oh the Places You will Go.” Never would I have thought I would be serving in the Metro Atlanta area and serving as a campus minister and youth minister. However, I am reminded that is God’s journey, not mine.

Deacons are called to specialize ministries. Deacons have a specific call in how to connect the church to the world with love, compassion and justice. I challenge young people in South Carolina to take time to listen to what God is calling them to do. Is it to serve as a deacon in the UMC?

If so, I would love to be in communication with you. Please contact me at arjohnson@umcsc.org.

Johnson currently serves as the Campus Minister at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia. She also serves at Lithia Springs UMC as the associate/youth minister.

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