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Pastor Jermaine Johnson – From ‘academically unstable’ to motivational speaker

Published:Saturday | December 10, 2016 | 12:00 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston
Pastor Jermaine Johnson says church involvement built his character and public-speaking skills and with it came the recognition that God was calling him into full-time ministry.

Today, Pastor Jermaine Johnson is a powerful motivational speaker and a full-time minister of religion in the North Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Churches. But that has not always been the case.

Growing up in Port Antonio, Portland, and attending Titchfield High School, he describes himself as being "academically unstable and disoriented".

"But this never occurred as any problem to me, as my main focus then was to become a recording artiste - a deejay. Hence, I spent most of my time writing songs, performing at concerts, recording in the studio, and attending dancehall and stage-show sessions.

I wasn't a troublemaker youth, but just never displayed the type of discipline which my parents would have wanted to see in me, with regard to schooling," he said.

It didn't help that he was not a fan of the academics, so it was easy for him to immerse himself in pursuing his musical dreams to the detriment of what his parents wanted him to focus on - academics.

In August 1999, his parents' prayers were answered prior to his entering his fifth year of high school.

He attended the final stages of a crusade hosted by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Stanton, Fellowship, Portland.

Unlike the other times when he was sent, this time he went willingly and he felt drawn.

DECISION TO GET BAPTIZED

"Thus, I returned the Sunday night (August 1), and while sitting in the congregation beneath the tent with my mother, I felt the throbbing of the Holy Spirit upon my heart and decided arbitrarily to get baptised. Everyone was shocked, as there was no systematic journey towards my decision. But I felt that it was the right thing to do, and I acquiesced," he shared.

His decision was met with scepticism by his friends as they thought that not only was he foolish, but they put ulterior motive to his conviction, thinking he had taken that path because he was attracted to some girl at the church.

His friends gave him six months to come to his senses and reclaim his old lifestyle.

Returning to school that September morning, Johnson shared that he had his challenges as schoolmates tried to lure him back to his former lifestyle - doing everything for him to fail in the time span assigned to him.

"They said I was wasting my musical potential, which could land me a prominent position in the industry very soon. But I was unperturbed. My attitude towards school and life instantly revolutionised! My teachers acknowledged my new focus, but thought it was too late to make any major impact on the upcoming externals," he said.

However he surprised even them as they sceptically recommended him to sit six subjects.

"And although I settled down in school very late, because I was settled in Jesus, the results were still great! I got five of the six subjects! My family, relatives, teachers, and friends were all shocked!

Johnson showed that what he had was real as he described it. "I was attracted to the one who would give Himself for my sins and afford me a brand new life! They stopped calculating, but I am still counting," Johnson said.

RECENT ACHIEVEMENTS

Since then, Johnson has gone on to becoming a musician - playing the piano, teaching for over 10 years, and being the first president of the National Youth Council of Jamaica and of the Portland Youth Council, representing Jamaica at the Commonwealth Youth Parliament, with over 50 countries participating, in Queensland, Australia.

While teaching, he served the SDA Church at Stanton in several capacities, including youth director, musician, youth chorister, songwriter and lay evangelist.

It was this church involvement that built his character and public-speaking skills, and with it came the recognition that God was calling him into full-time ministry.

He admits that he ignored it for eight years until he could run no more.

He finally yielded and enrolled at the Northern Caribbean University's School of Religion and Theology to pursue ministerial studies.

"I matriculated successfully and continue to teach and to serve the church as a lay evangelist, worker, and musician while studying."

Johnson, who graduated in August 2013 from the NCU, magna cum laude, as class valedictorian, with the Bachelor of Arts in religion and theology, took up an offer to work with the North Jamaica Conference on September 1 that same year.

Currently serving as the church pastor for the Spring Garden District of Seventh-day Adventist Churches in south Trelawny, he is currently completing a book on his journey, which includes his great testimony during his college years.

familyandreligion@gleanerjm.com