— 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
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.
“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.)