PJ John reminded me that 9 November was his father’s 22nd death anniversary. Pastor PJ Johney was my predecessor, spiritual father and mentor in the ministry.
My thoughts went down memory lane to recall the difficult decision he had to make as a civil servant, husband, and father. He found himself thrust into a scenario he never wished for. The founding pastor, brother A.M. Mathew, was leaving for Canada. He had applied for a posting to Canada. While he waited for an opening, a historical revival broke out in Singapore and it filled his house with young students fired up by the baptism of the Spirit and a love for Jesus. While he was leading this young fellowship for about about two years, an opening in Castrol Canada opened up. He decided to take it. What will happen to this little flock? Hand it to the next best person in the fellowship that he trusted. Pastor Johney was reluctant to accept it. He felt that Crispus, a dynamic young man of faith, who was a great encourager and spent a lot of time with the youths should be the one to take over. Brother Mathew insisted that it should be Johney, and Johney it became. As events unfolded over the decades, that was a prudent and wise judgment call by brother Mathew.
Pastor Johney and his family had to leave the Marthoma Church because of his firmness in his new found faith experience. Suddenly, he is the leader of a fellowship full of enthusiastic youth with lots of energy and ideas but little resources and money. This is indeed a dire challenge that I imagine would drive most lay people to their knees in prayer, entrusting people and church and financial problems to the Lord of the Church. I cannot imagine the kind of pressure he and sister Johney would have experienced those days as a lay pastor still holding to his civil service job, and leading the flock.
Having been his associate for so many years I would describe his pastoral leadership as spiritual fathering. He was a father to the church of young people offering prudent judgment and garnering the respect of the church through his exemplary and dignified conduct and sacrifices. It was what the church needed at that time. A model of what a godly Christian family looks like. We were young but we were a few years away from getting married and having and bringing up our children in the fear of God. We needed a stable model of godly living, prayerful lifestyle and faithfulness in stewardship. This is what builds families and make them strong.
In addition, he was aware of his limitations and welcomed the contributions of all the young people. Everyone could exercise their spiritual gifts, lead and serve in ways that built up one another and the church. His style of leadership was not top-down CEO leadership but a fatherly nurturing of every member ministry in the church. It was one of the legacies I happily continued after I was appointed in his place. Identifying peoples spiritual gifts and strengths and encouraging them to deploy them in building and strengthening the body, and of course, giving credit where it is due.
I am rambling on and on. I better stop here. If you wish to read more about Pastor PJ Johney you may want to go HERE.