There’s a popular contemporary worship song that says, “You can have it all, Lord. Every part of my world.” It’s easy to passionately proclaim our obedience during a Sunday service, but what happens when God really does want it all? Jed and Kim Johnson lived in the Pacific Northwest with their kids when they sensed the Holy Spirit asking them to move to Ukraine. It didn’t take long for this consideration to become a compelling vision, one that would change the lives of many.
The Johnsons now live outside Zhytomyr, Ukraine where they work with orphans who have special needs to be a safe and consistent loving presence in the midst of a society that calls them outcasts. Through their organization, Wide Awake International, Jed and Kim founded Hope Home, which is a forever home for friends with special needs who have been living in an institution. In Ukraine, having a disability carries a heavy stigma that impacts quality of life and access to care. For many of our friends, living in an institution becomes a life sentence. But Hope Home wants to change that.
When asked how Hope Home impacts the lives of those with special needs in Ukraine, Kim Johnson said, “Our dream is that at Hope Home the boys would encounter Jesus and they would live out the rest of their days with dignity, hope, and love. We want it to be a place where they can fully grow into the men they were created to be. We don't just want justice for them, but we desire that they would absolutely thrive–knowing they are safe and loved. We don't want Hope Home to be a mini-institution, but a true home where each person is valued for who they are and how God made them.”
Saying yes to this journey has completely changed life for the Johnson family, but like many who have chosen the path of obedience, they have reaped abundance.
Because they said yes, the Johnsons have gained a new understanding of what it means to be a family. Kim Johnson says this, “If we think of them as a job or as work, then the burden becomes too heavy. If we think of their care as a task to check off the list, then we can get bitter or overprotective of ‘our own time.’ The joy comes in loving them as family and serving them as family. The joy comes in laying down our lives so they can know what it is to truly live.”
The journey with Jesus isn’t an accessory; it’s a full and abundant life that begins when we lay ours down. God may not be calling you to move to Ukraine. He may be calling you to become a foster parent, to join a Care Community, or to donate to organizations like Wide Awake International. How will you respond to where God is calling you?
Written by: Maggie Johnson