Helping others is “just part of living” for Pastor Paul Johnson and his wife Cindy.
From dropping off home-baked cookies or a warm meal at the home of a church member, to driving to Nanaimo to visit another who’s sick, Paul and Cindy regularly go out of their way to help those in their church community.
When asked about helping others, they immediately say everyone in their church does the same.
“It’s not just about us doing it,” says Paul. “It’s about everybody catching that interest in ministry. The people in the pews, the chairs, are not here just to be in the chairs, they’re here to minister, too.
“That’s why we’re here, to minister to them but also to show them and encourage them to do likewise, and it’s been great to watch that.”
Paul and Cindy have now served the Comox Valley’s Grace Baptist Church for 20 years. Although he first thought of becoming a pastor when he was in university, Paul wasn’t ordained into the Christian ministry until 1994.
He grew up in Alberta, and while obtaining a degree in accounting at a university in South Carolina, he met Cindy, who was from Ohio. The newlyweds moved to Ohio and stayed there for about 10 years while Paul worked as a certified public accountant.
They then moved to Victoria in the early 1990s, where Paul again worked as an accountant. But, the main reason for this move was so they could help Paul’s brother — who is a pastor, too — establish the Grace Baptist Church of Victoria. A couple years later, a friend in Manitoba, who was planning to move to the Comox Valley to pastor the church here, asked Paul if he would fill in as pastor once a month until he could get his affairs in order for the move out west.
“We started doing that in probably May of ’93,” recalls Paul. “We did that until about October of ’93 and got another call from my friend in Manitoba and he said, ‘It doesn’t look like my house is going to sell, I’m taking it that the Lord doesn’t want me to be out there.’
“So, he asked if I would consider, at that point, becoming a pastor. And so, (Cindy and I) talked about it and, short story I guess is, we’re here.”
The Johnson family — which includes five children, the majority of whom are now in their 20s — moved to the Valley in March, 1994 and Paul was ordained on May 6. Since then, the church has doubled in size to about 55 people.
Bud Tarling, 93, has been a member of the church for about 25 years, and says Paul’s “dedication and his excellent spiritual guidance” has helped the congregation grow.
“He’s just a real nice family man,” Tarling says of Paul. “And, his wife Cindy is just a delightful lady who just can’t seem to do enough for people in the congregation. She’s a great helpmate to him and they’re constantly helping people.
“I mean, nothing seems to be too troubling, and anybody that’s ill or away, or anybody that asks for prayers, he never forgets.
“It’s just a real loving church.”
Besides his various duties as church pastor, Paul has continued working as an accountant, and puts in about 30 hours per week wearing his “other hat.”
Cindy and Paul say they’ve loved the Valley ever since they first moved here 20 years ago, and they have no plans to leave.
“We’re both very thankful to be here and for the opportunity to enjoy the Valley and to enjoy the people and, hopefully, be a part of making it a better place,” says Paul.