Marriage done right:Jerry and Sally Johnson

I have known Jerry and Sally Johnson since 1983 and they are some great people. Here is an article in today’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette about them.

RIGHT TIME RIGHT PLACE

God, Uncle Sam in sync when plotting their future

By KIMBERLY DISHONGH SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE

LITTLE ROCK — Jerry Johnson joined the Army hoping for a stint in Europe, but he was sent to Fort Sill, Okla.

“I was really disappointed because out of about 400 soldiers everyone went to Europe but nine and I was one of the nine not going,” he says. “And then the Lord showed me why I wasn’t going.”

A couple of months after arriving at Fort Sill in the spring of 1957, he went with his roommate to First Baptist Church in Lawton, Okla. Two rows in front of them sat a young lady in a big straw hat.

His roommate knew that young lady, Sally Sullivan, the church’s singles’ director and pastor’s secretary, and he introduced her to Jerry after the service.

“She’s 5-foot-10 and she had on a black sack dress and a black and white straw hat – I thought she was striking,” says Jerry, who is 6-foot-6. “But it wasn’t like love at first sight.”

Jerry began riding with his friend to church and to the activities Sally scheduled for singles.

“Every Sunday we would have 20 to 25 go to lunch and then on Tuesday night we would get together to visit prospects for the church and Wednesday nights and then Sunday nights we would have fellowships after church where we would have games and desserts and that type of thing.”

“On Saturdays, the group often did something fun, like picnicking in the mountains,” he says.

He and Sally were dating others and weren’t interested in each other then. But by December 1958, Jerry’s feelings had changed.

“I felt like I would really like to date Sally, so I prayed about it and I finally went and asked her if she would be interested in dating. We’d been very close friends and we knew a lot about each other’s families and so forth,” he says. “I felt that she’s such a wonderful young woman – beautiful inside and out – that I would be blessed to date her.”

Sally was surprised. They decided to think and pray about it over Christmas and decide when he was back from visiting his family in Knoxville, Tenn.

They had agreed they could still date other people until they made up their minds about dating each other, but his mind was only on her.

“All I did was talk about her. I was on leave and I was excited about being home, but I couldn’t think about anything else but getting back to her,” he says. “The first thing I did when I got off the bus was walk about three-quarters of a mile to her apartment. I knocked on the door and hopefully she would be glad to see me returning from my leave and it so happened that she had a date that night.”

“I was glad to see you though!” Sally interjects.

Not long after that they had their first date – a picnic in the mountains with friends from the singles group.

“We had a fun day, laughing and joking and kidding with each other,” he recalls “We really realized we were making a connection that day.”

Jerry proposed to Sally at midnight on April 16, after a party with the singles group.

“Being the gentleman I was supposed to be I thought, ‘Well, I better call her dad and ask him first,’” he says. “I called him, I think at midnight, and he said, ‘Yes, you may marry my daughter,’ and I think he never quite forgave me for calling him and waking him up.”

They were married in the sanctuary of First Baptist Church in Lawton on Aug. 28, 1959, before more than 600 guests.

Jerry worked for a while in management at J.C. Penney, but in 1968, he felt called to the ministry. He and Sally worked side by side on the staff at First Baptist in Lawton for eight years. In 1976, they moved to Little Rock, where he became family life minister and youth pastor at First Baptist Church. He developed the recreation program at the church and led the charge to build the family wellness and recreation center there.

The Johnsons have three children, Christie Erwin and Brad Johnson, both of Little Rock, and Jerry Johnson of Rancho Mirage, Calif. They have 15 grandchildren.

Jerry’s disappointment about not being sent to Europe quickly faded after Sally agreed to date him. Years later, he got the chance to lead several mission trips and conference tours to Europe and elsewhere in the world – and Sally got to go with him.

“It was,” he says, “just a blessing delayed.”

After our first date:

She says: “I was convinced that the Lord was in this and that we needed to pursue it and I was very hopeful that it was going to be the right thing.” He says: “I saw the way we interacted in a different realm than we had been that the Lord was working it out that we were going to become a couple.”

The first time I met my future in-laws:

She says: “I was very impressed with their humility and with their love for Jerry. He was their only child and I was one of nine.” He says: “They were just down-to-earth people. They had grown up with not a lot materially, but I was impressed with their family togetherness. And being an only child I was also a little shocked by the number of people.”

On our wedding day:

She says: I was nervous, excited … I’m excited now, just thinking about it. I knew that he was the one and I was just so so happy that we were going to be together for the rest of our lives.” He says: “I felt so blessed to be facing that day and knowing what God had provided for me.”If you have an interesting how-we-met story or know someone who does, please call (501) 378-3496 or e-mail:

cjenkins@arkansasonline.com

This article was published today at 3:12 a.m.

___________________

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