This year’s homecoming saw the return of many Johnson alumni, including Ben Abbott, a 2009 Johnson graduate.Abbott said he returned for homecoming to see people, put aside responsibilities and to relax and be a worshiper.
“My responsibility here is to focus on God,” he said. “Not worry about all the fine details of lights and cameras and music and sermons.”
Usually he does have to worry about those things, having been senior pastor of Montague Church of Christ in Canada for the past five years. But now he’s back in the states and able to enjoy his time away.
Abbott said he felt a calling to ministry while he was in the U.S. Air Force. His niece and nephew had attended Johnson, so he heard about the university through them.
He said that when he called the school to inquire about attending, he somehow was connected to David Eubanks’ phone.
“I hadn’t known that he was the school’s president, and he never mentioned it,” Abbott said. “I didn’t know until I had met him in person.”
Awhile after the call Abbott said that Eubanks sent a letter “in his own handwriting saying he was praying for me,” he said. “A few years later I bumped into him here, and he said he was still praying for me.”
Before attending JU, Abbott visited the school for his nephew’s graduation. His nephew’s graduation was the first time he met Eubanks in person.
“When we started talking he instantly remembered me,” Abbott said.
He said that Eubanks had recalled things from their conversations that even he couldn’t remember.
“At the end of our conversation he told me that he had still been praying for me all that time,” Abbott said.
Abbott said that having been remembered like that was a great feeling. He soon applied and was accepted into the school.
Abbott talked about how once he was here he felt welcomed into the Johnson family instantly.
He had mentors and friends and many other people that supported him through everything.
Abbott said that he would often meet his mentors for breakfast and talk with them when he needed help or advice. Professors would take time to work through things with him, being very understanding of his situations.
Abbott was married and already had one child when he came to Johnson as a student.
He said coming back for homecoming is a chance to see his friends.
“Johnson understands and gives a place — environment — that I can just be Ben, not resident or pastor or guru,” he said. “Here I get to sit with family and friends and be with them worshiping God.”