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Joel Johnson has co-hosted Acquire the Fire youth conferences for the past ten years. He is also the co-author of Emerge. Joel has ministered in over 20 nations around the world and in hundreds of churches across North America. Additionally, He has traveled speaking with such bands as Newsboys, Skillet, Third Day, The Waiting, Tree 63, Petra, Gospel Gangstaz, Project 86, The Afters, Bethany Dillon, and Jeremy Camp. As a youth, Joel surmounted the challenges brought about by poverty, a broken home, and abuse, his inspirational stories and teaching have helped thousands to find freedom from the wounds of a broken past. Joel is also an avid adventurer. A few of his adventures include: navigating down the Amazon River, living with a native tribe in the Darien Jungle of Panama, partaking in many traditional Maori Hangi feasts and ceremonies in New Zealand, playing music throughout the war torn city of Beirut, trekking to the top of Yosemite’s Half Dome and Pike’s Peak, walking the streets of Hanoi, riding an elephant through the jungle of Change Mia and overseeing the remodeling of an orphanage playground in Change Rai, Thailand. Joel underwent two years of ministry training at Abundant Life School of Ministry and received a B.S. in Political Science from the University of Texas at Tyler. Beyond keeping up with his busy speaking schedule, Joel is also currently enrolled in his last semester of law school at Texas Wesleyan University.
I grew up in a small town in Oklahoma and like many of you; my childhood was less than perfect. My mom and dad divorced when I was a year old. My dad remarried and had two daughters with my stepmom. I knew my dad loved me, but after he remarried I felt like I was in the way of his new family. My mom did the best she could to raise us, but growing up in a divorced family left me feeling a bit unstable. My mom remarried when I was 5 years old. We did not see my dad on a consistent basis and it felt like I was constantly caught in the middle of custody battles and child support fights. At the age of 11 I was forced to move in with my dad and his new family. I was extremely attached to my mom and this transition was very difficult for me to handle. Going into my teenage years a had a great deal of insecurity, rejection, and lack of self-esteem, so I did what many teenagers do to fill that pain, I turned to drugs and alcohol. I was extremely rebellious to my dad and his family, and spent much of my Junior High and High School bouncing from living with my dad to my mom. When I was 15 years old a friend invited me to an Acquire the Fire event. For the first time ever my eyes were opened to Christianity. I had never seen anything like that! I knew that the people at that event had something real, something that the world could not offer. I did not give my life to the Lord at that event, but I knew I had to find out more! I started attending youth group every week with a friend. After 6 months I signed up to go on a mission’s trip and it was there that I had an experience with God that forever changed my life. There I was broken, insecure, and hurting so deep words cannot describe. He met me there, in the deepest place in my heart. I felt something I had never felt before… hope, unconditional love, approval, and acceptance. I surrendered my life to the Lord that night and I have never looked back. I went home from that trip and made a decision I would no longer allow the world to have a hold on me. I got rid of posters, music, movies, and anything else that did not bring me closer to the Lord. I made a decision that I would not date until I met a man worthy of my heart, no more movies or TV, and no more secular music. I knew I had to once and for all remove the world’s hold on my heart! Shortly after that, I went on a mission’s trip with Teen Mania Ministries. On that trip my father passed away in a tragic motorcycle accident. It rocked my whole world, but I knew that what I felt when I gave my life to the Lord was real and he would never leave me nor forsake me. So, I held onto him with everything I had and boy did he ever bring me through it. After I graduated I signed up to attend Teen Mania’s Honor Academy. It was a year of deep healing and growing closer to the Lord. I was able to forgive and let go of some of the deepest wounds in my heart. I discovered that God had a great plan and destiny on my life. I stayed a second year at Teen Mania to be a part of a program called Fellowship of the Burning Heart. We were personally mentored by Ron Luce on character, integrity, and speaking to youth. It was during that year my passion for reaching youth intensified. I knew that the hard times I went though in my life were not in vain. I wanted my life to be a living testimony that God can and will use them no matter what they have been through. After that year I worked on staff at Teen Mania serving as an assistant to Ron Luce, President and CEO of Teen Mania. During that time I met my husband Joel, who has traveled speaking at Acquire the Fires and churches across America for the past 10 years. He was my first and last relationship since I made the commitment not to date until I met a man worthy of my heart… and boy is his worthy! Our first kiss was on our wedding day and we have enjoyed many since. We spent the last year traveling together speaking at Acquire the Fire events. We have been married for five years now, and I know my father in heaven hand selected him for me! We are also blessed with our amazing son, Lincoln, who is the joy of our lives. That is my story and I hope it inspires you to press into the Lord in a deeper way. He has a plan and destiny for each and every one of you. We must dive into God’s heart and discover the greatness he has waiting for each and every one of us!