KNOXVILLE— This week for Johnson University students, the opportunity for morning chapel sessions to express recognition to Black History Month has appeared.
On Tuesday, Feb 3, Johnson students flooded into the Phillips-Welshimer Gymnasium for morning chapel just like any average school day; however, the students came away with a shocking surprise as the worship for the morning started.
Cord Johnson, a fellow Johnson University student, was scheduled to play guitar that morning, but his musical accompaniment was a person no one expected it to be. A man by the name of John Jackson was to perform at chapel that morning, and he brought with him enough excitement to get the whole audience on their feet. Jackson had led worship before at chapel. Based on the crowd reaction, it was obvious that Jackson was a favorite.
Jackson and Johnson started off the morning by playing a song entitled, “We Are Blessed.” They then lead onto a Hillsong United song named, “Touch the Sky.” After the students were clearly amped up and into the music, Jackson taught a new song. The main chorus talked about no longer being a slave to fear, but rather about being a child of God. Jackson ended the song by addressing the audience with the notion that God’s love cast out all fear.
To Johnson, the chance to play on stage with Jackson was incredible. “It was somewhat nerve-racking because we only practiced, like, thirty minutes before. It was really cool, though, to see everyone so pumped up. It was nice to take a break from the more solemn, spacey music and do something more energetic,” Johnson said.
The main speaker for the morning on Tuesday was Efrem Smith, who is the president and CEO of World Impact in Los Angeles, California. Smith is a powerful speaker who started off his message by focusing on the present of God’s Kingdom, rather than the future. He read a great deal from the gospel of Matthew and talked deeply about the advancers of God’s Kingdom.
He caught the audience’s attention by the mention of superhero’s, which then led into a discussion of how this world nowadays is flipped upside-down. Using Jesus as the hero, Smith connected superhero’s with our upside-down world and how Jesus came in and flipped it upside-right.
The big question of the day: What does it mean to have Jesus as the center? Smith used this question to draw the audience back to his first, initial thought, and he ended his message by saying Jesus gives humans authority to change the evil in the world.
On Wednesday, Feb 3, both Jackson and Johnson were back again to play at the beginning of chapel, but this time with a different kind of excitement rippling throughout the building.
Due to heavy storms the night before, Johnson University lost power for the first five minutes of chapel, which caused Jackson and Johnson to entertain the crowd using only their vocals until the power kicked on again.
Smith was also back for chapel on Wednesday morning. His message focused on more of an action plan, rather than just having an idea or thought of action.
Chapel on Thursday morning, Feb 4, will once again be held in the Phillips-Welshimer Gymnasium. The speaker for Feb 4 will be Gary Stratton. Stratton is the professor and dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Johnson University. This chapel service will wrap up the week in accordance to Black History Month.