Fatal car crash didn’t kill wife’s calling
Ava Thomas, Baptist Press
July 15, 2011

Fatal car crash didn’t kill wife’s calling

Fatal car crash didn’t kill wife’s calling
Ava Thomas, Baptist Press
July 15, 2011


— Hearing Jan Johnsonius’ story, some people might wonder why she went back.

She already had given everything to missions, it seemed — even her husband.

“But once it’s in your spirit to serve the Lord overseas,” Johnsonius said, “it

doesn’t leave.”

She and her husband Jim hadn’t been in Argentina

for long as International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries when they had a

serious car crash. Jim was killed and Jan was badly injured. That was Aug. 1, 1993.

And exactly nine years later — on Aug.

1, 2002 — she was commissioned again, this time for service in Spain.

Missionary Jan Johnsonius faced a tragic juncture in her missions career when her husband was killed in a car crash in Argentina in 1993. Now, after returning to the field in 2002, she uses life coaching and movie discussion groups to reach urban professionals in Madrid, Spain, with the gospel.

“It was too coincidental not to be the Lord redeeming that difficult date into

something new,” Johnsonius said.

It was another chance to follow the calling she and her husband shared and use

the language they had studied together.

“The people who knew me best knew it wasn’t a question of ‘if’ I was going back

but instead a question of ‘when,’” she said, recounting that she had sealed her

missions calling with the Lord individually before she and her husband ever

ventured to the field. “I didn’t want to be just following my husband,” she

said. “I wanted it to be a personal call.”

And it was.

Now Johnsonius works among urban professionals in Madrid,

serving as a life coach to help people reach their goals. “The unemployment

rate is 22 percent in Spain,”

she noted, “so there are so many opportunities to serve people and build

relationships through life coaching.”

And as often as she’s given the opportunity, Johsonius points her clients to

the wisdom and peace that can flow from the Word of God. One woman she had been

coaching continues to meet with her to study the Bible even though their life

coaching time has ended.

“Doors open through this — it’s all about being sensitive to the work the Holy

Spirit is already doing,” Johnsonius said.

And seeing open doors is a cause for rejoicing, she said. In the bustling city

of 6 million, people don’t just talk to anyone. They are open to relationships

but rarely make the first move in starting a friendship.

But Johnsonius doesn’t accept the idea of “tilling hard ground” as an excuse to

hold back in sharing the gospel.

“I used to be more hesitant,” she said, “but before I came back to Spain

I decided I wanted to be more open to going there in conversation and just

seeing what He did with it.”

One way that’s happened is through movie discussion groups with urban

professionals. Believers invite nonbelieving friends to watch a movie with good

conversation topics, and then the group talks about them.

“It’s a way to help empower local believers to share their faith,” she said.

In conjunction with her outreach, Johnsonius asks for prayer:

  • that the hearts of the people of Spain

    would be open to the gospel.

  • that Spanish believers would be passionate about reaching out to their friends

    who don’t know Christ.

  • that urban professionals in Madrid

    would come to know the peace and salvation that Jesus offers.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Thomas is an International Mission Board

writer based in Europe.)