Portland, Ore.—Kentuckian Bill Johnson was recognized as one of the top disaster relief leaders in the country at the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Roundtable Jan. 28 in Portland, Ore.
The North American Mission Board presented Johnson, of Grayson, with the SBDR Distinguished Award for his exemplary service during 2014 through the Hurricane Sandy Rebuild efforts in New York.
“Bill has a deep passion for helping people,” said Mickey Casion, NAMB’s disaster relief recovery coordinator.
“He not only does a great job leading the work of the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, but his love for people is so evident every day,” Caison said of Johnson.
“It does not matter if Bill is working in the home of a survivor or with leaderships of partner organizations; Bill is comfortable.,” Caison said. “His passion for serving our Lord expresses itself in his willingness to share the gospel with those he works.”
Johnson, a member of Liberty Missionary Baptist Church in Cannonsburg, has served with Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief since 2008. Before moving to the Bluegrass State, he was a leader and rigging trainer with SBDR in Texas.
“This is a prestigious national award,” Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief Director Coy Webb said, “and one that is given to no more than six people annually.”
Award recipients were selected from 42 Southern Baptist Convention-affiliated state conventions and chosen because they demonstrated an exceptional ability to serve the kingdom of God through disaster relief. In essence, they showed “Christ in a crisis.”
Webb, who nominated Johnson, described him as a man with “a passion for Christ and a willingness to go wherever He leads,” even if that means accepting a long-term assignment away from the comforts of home.
When Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast coastline more than two years ago, Johnson was among the first Kentuckians to respond, Webb said. During the crisis, Johnson revealed his leadership qualities while working with the New York Incident Command Team.
As the humanitarian effort transitioned from meeting immediate needs to those that were more long term, many volunteers went back to their home states—not Johnson. At the request of NAMB, he and his wife, Donna, signed up to serve the next couple of years as rebuild coordinators in New York.
“Bill and Donna are caring people,” said Kentucky DR volunteer Lew Cook. “They are the right folks to call and get things done.”
Cook, a former award recipient, said he has worked alongside Johnson for several years and has always admired his ability to minister to people regardless of the circumstances.
“One of his strongest attributes is his ability to witness to people,” Cook said. “Whether it’s a homeowner, someone who has gone through a loss, or a group of disaster relief folks, Bill can talk with them and pray with them. I haven’t seen a situation where he wouldn’t witness to someone.”
“He’s very much deserving of this award.” (KBC)