Building Bridges

 “Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.”
Philippians 3:17 NIV

Earl Johnson was an upright man who spent his career engineering buildings and bridges, taking care of his family, and going to church at every opportunity. He was also my grandpa and was a great example of someone who pursued Christ with every part of his life. Every Sunday that I can remember, he stood at the church doors in his suit, greeting people and welcoming them inside to hear about Christ (so he built spiritual bridges as well as literal ones). He was a Gideon who handed out Bibles, and when I was in college I would visit my grandparents’ house and he and I would have theological discussions at the dinner table. Throughout the time I was in graduate school, he would regularly write me letters of encouragement that helped me persevere, and to this day I keep his Bible on the shelf next to my desk with his copious notes in the margins on every topic.

One of the most influential experiences I had with him was when he was in his 90s and I went to visit him in his retirement community. I asked him how he was spending his time, and he discussed that he was still greeting at church every Sunday, and passing out Bibles, but he also shared that his neighbor upstairs had cancer and was an unbeliever, so he had been visiting him to share the gospel in hopes that the man could be saved. This struck me because I was a young woman with plenty of drive and energy, but I wasn’t spending my time doing anything as important as that! Even though he was 92, bringing new believers into God’s family was still crucial to my grandpa. This showed me that my whole life from start to finish should be a continuous walk with God and if my job here on earth is to make disciples, then I should be spending every last breath trying. At the end of my grandpa’s life he could say “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7 NIV).

I am a greeter at my church and every Sunday as I stand at the doors to welcome people inside to hear about Christ, I know that he built a bridge to the next generation with his example, and I am continuing to walk my path with Christ as Philippians 3:17 (NIV) instructs, to “join with others in following my example, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.”

Who in your life is an example of someone who pursues Christ with every step?

What distinguishes your faith so that others might see you as an example?

Walking with Christ,

Erin Tabor



Photo Credit: My own photo

One comment on “Building Bridges

  1. Kris Johnson Greening

    As his middle daughter I took comfort knowing he prayed for all of us every day by name, each family, each individual. When he passed away I thought “oh no” someone has to pray for all of us every day! So I’ve continued the practice. He was a great example for all of us.

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