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A Missionary Came to my Village


John G. Johnson

By Sandy Miller


“A missionary came to my village and told us about Jesus.” The ancient African man stared into space as he spoke these words — as if transfixed by some distant scene.


That morning I had taught a lesson on “Women in Pentecost” as the Liberia Acts 1:8 Conference in Monrovia, Liberia, conducted by the Acts in Africa Initiative as part of Africa’s Decade of Pentecost (2010-2020) emphasis. During the session I had spoken of women who went out directly from the Azusa Street Revival to Liberia during the first decade of the 20th century. After the session the elderly pastor, Reverend John G. Johnson, came and asked to talk with me.


As we sat together that morning, Pastor Johnson told me his story. He told of how more than 70 years ago (back in 1936) a single lady missionary named Lois Shelton came to his village, called Sweaker Sarbo. She told his people about Jesus, and many accepted the Lord, including his father and mother. The missionary than asked if any in the village would allow their children to go with her to the mission station so that she could teach them more about Jesus. At the time Pastor Johnson was only 10 years old and the only son of his parents. Nevertheless, they allowed him to go with her.


At times, as he told his story, the old man’s heart became so filled with emotion that he wept aloud. At other times he would burst out in joyous praise.


John remained at Louis Shelton’s school for 11 years learning about Jesus. She taught him the Bible and how to live for God. In 1943 he was baptized in the Holy Spirit. When he was 21 years old he took a wife and returned to his home village.

At home, Pastor John went to work for the Lord, planting two new churches. Later, God directed him to another area. In 1974 he began teaching in government schools. He used this opportunity to teach the children about Jesus, just as Lois Shelton had taught him.


From 1983 until 2005 Pastor Johnson served as the national treasurer of the Liberia Assemblies of God. Now, because of his age, he has resigned from that position, feeling that the work is best left to younger leaders. At the age of 84 he continues to pastor a church.


Wiping his eyes often, his face beamed as he told me how grateful he was that a single lady missionary sacrificed and left her home in America to go to a remote village in Africa and pour her life into a young 10-year-old boy and a nation that desperately needed Christ.


Though it started with just one village boy, because of Lois Shelton’s sacrifice, hundreds of lives were eternally changed. What’s more, as I sat there listening to an old man’s story, my life was also touched by the ministry of Lois Shelton. As we shook hands and parted that day, I prayed, “Oh, God use me as you used Lois Shelton.”


Denny and Sandy Miller are AGWM missionaries to Africa.





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