Category: Missions/Culture

Intercultural Studies hub, School outreach, International outlook/giving


JU students serve inner-city Knoxville youth

Part of Johnson’s mission  is to spread God’s word to the ends of the earth. While Johnson’s passion for international growth is flourishing, a handful of students have accepted the challenge to help out in Johnson’s own home of Knoxville.

Emerald Youth Foundation, and other supporting organizations have provided an opportunity for students to give back to Knoxville’s youth.

Working with AmeriCorps and JustLead Program,  Emerald serves numerous organizations  throughout Knoxville.  Emerald Youth Foundation is located in the heart of Knoxville.

One of the programs that works with Emerald is Western Heights Baptist Center. Western Heights is often thought of as a low-class, government funded community. It is ridden with crime and drug abuse.

But on the inside of the community, it holds genuine people that want to help the youth strive. The after school program shelters elementary, middle and high school students. The program consists of tutoring, bible study, recreation and arts and crafts groups.




Children working on arts and crafts.

While the focus of the program is to help the young adults with their education,  the main focus is mentorship of the youth by sharing life lessons and building relationships.

Some of the older children have been in the program for years.

Alex Bodio. Bodio, a sophomore at Fulton High, has attended the program since he was in second grade.

Bodio attributes his time in the program as a tool that helped him come to Christ.

“Learning about God at the Baptist Center helped me see what I wanted in life,” Bodio said. “Getting help from everyone in program has helped me understand what I want to pursue.”

There are plenty of stories like Bodio’s throughout Knoxville. The youth in all of the programs are eager to learn and grow but they need guidance.

Johnson students Chloe Martin and Alex Luebbe spends their afternoons working with these students. .

Martin has served at Emerald Avenue ministry mentoring young adults since she has arrived at Johnson four years ago. Luebbe, also a senior volunteers his time in Western Heights Program.

For Martin, the children have become more of a family than a job.


Chloe Martin and the children at Corn Maze


“My kids mean the world to me,” Martin said. “They have changed my life forever and I think that what true service shows.”

While Luebbe has not been connected with Emerald and Western Heights as long as Martin he still feels a connection with the youth.

“I did not know what to expect when I first started,” Luebbe said. “The kids are great and honestly teach you more than you teach them. This experience helped me really see how God is present.”







Johnson student honored by Boys and Girls Club

KNOXVILLE — Dalton Sauer was presented with the 2016 Seymour Branch Volunteer of the Year award for his outstanding service at the Boys and Girls Club last month.

Sauer is a sophomore at Johnson and is currently majoring in business administration.

He began working at the BGCA last year after attending Seymour Heights Christian Church and finding out they were looking for volunteer coaches at the Seymour location.


Dalton Sauer receiving the Seymour Branch Volunteer of the Year 2016 award (Photo/Boys and Girls Club of the Smokey Mountains)

Sauer now coaches basketball for all ages, starting with six-year-olds, and helps in the gym.

Sauer devotes time daily to volunteer at the BGCA serving around 15 to 20 hours a week.

His favorite thing about working with the kids at the BGCA is watching them grow and witnessing how fast they pick up new techniques.

Sauer considers himself a mentor to the kids at the BGCA, filling the gap of an older brother to those who do not have older siblings to look up to.

For the duration of Sauer’s time at Johnson, he plans to remain involved with the BGCA, furthering the connections he has made there.

He says he would like to pursue a career at the BGCA if possible and if it is in God’s will for him.

Sauer is appreciative of the honor that comes with receiving this award and hopes to continue making an impact.

“I like to be able to do stuff and lay low—I like people to be able to see the results rather than who is getting the results done,” he said.”I just want to keep making an impact.”

Going above and beyond the service learning hours required at Johnson, Sauer is investing his life in the lives of others for the advancement of the Kingdom.



Trio plans trip to Uganda

KNOXVILLE — Three Johnson students will be traveling to Uganda for Week of Evengelism this semester.

Hannah Baker, Emily Beamon and Chastedy Johnson will travel to Jinja, Uganda from March 18-25.

They will be visiting Mirembe Cottage for Street Girls. This is the organization that JUTN has selected as their chapel offering recipient.

Baker, a sophomore in the Intercultural Studies program, is leading the trip.

This will be Baker’s second time going to Uganda. Beamon, a children’s ministry major, and Johnson, a journalism major, have never been to Uganda and this will be their first mission trip.

Baker is excited for non-ICS students to join her, saying that they bring very different perspectives and gifts to the mission field.

“I hope that they [Johnson and Beamon] get to see the brokenness that lies in this part of the world and have a new perspective on life,” Baker said. “The bubble we live in isn’t how it is everywhere.”

During their trip they will be getting to know the girls from Mirembe cottage.

The students will also be visiting land where Mirembe is building a new school. They hope to assist in the construction by laying bricks for the structure.

The girls will also help with a VBS in the village. The trio plan to travel to a village called Masese where most of the girls that are rescued by Mirembe used to live.

“There is a really bad cycle there where the men just want to drink and have sex and the men expect the women to provide that for them,” Baker said. “So no one is making income and no one is providing for the kids or anything so it leaves a lot of street kids and abused kids to make them go and get money for their families.”

Baker said they hope to assist Sole Hope, an organization that that removes and helps to prevent jiggers.

The trip will cost $2,000. Baker said that although financial support is helpful, they want to stress the importance of connecting with Mirembe cottage for girls and continuing to pray for the work being done there.


Hannah Baker is pictured with girls from Mirembe Cottage for Street Girls.


Students to spend Week of Evangelism in Dublin

KNOXVILLE — A handful of JU students are spending their Week of Evangelism on the Emerald Isle.

Johnson student, Raelyn Lomison, said she has always been intrigued by English and Irish culture and that passion has inspired her to lead five students on a trip to Dublin, Ireland this semester.

These students are Nate Thompson, Taylor Whitson, Mary Kate Tucker, Josiah Carroway and Denzil Laughren.

There is still one seat left to go on this trip, but the funds for the trip are due soon.

 In Dublin the group will work with Dublin Christian Mission.

 Due to the large homeless community found in Dublin, Dublin Christian Mission runs many programs to try and help meet the people’s needs while evangelizing in a personal way. They run a soup kitchen, afterschool programs, art programs and much more.

 Lomison said that they hope to show the people they meet a new kind of Christianity.

 “Ireland has really been devastated by the divide in the Catholic and the Protestant churches,” Lomison said. “That’s why we’re really focusing on relational ministry.”

 Lomison said JU students can help by praying for the trip, the members, and God’s provision.

There will also be several fundraising events for students to help monetarily.

 Krispy Kreme doughnuts will be sold Feb. 9, and can be pre-ordered by the dozen.

There are also shirts being sold by the group to fund the trip.

 There will be a spirit night on Feb. 20 at the Chick-fil-A on Mountain Grove Dr. off of Chapman Highway. From 5 to 7 p.m. 10 percent of all orders will go towards the trip.

 If you are interested in ordering doughnuts or shirts contact Raelyn Lomison at


Original lost boy of Sudan finds refuge in America

KNOXVILLE — The constant sound of guns firing, fear, explosions and genocide overtook what was once a peaceful village in southern Sudan. In 1987, an estimated 20,000 children were separated from their families as a result of civil war between northern and southern Sudan.

These children faced tragedy beyond understanding and walked thousands of miles to flee conflict in Sudan. Their journey took place on foot as they fled to bordering countries in Ethiopia and Kenya.

On the quest to find refuge, most of them did not make it due to heat exhaustion, various diseases, starvation and attacks from wild animals that inhabited the land. Among these conditions, they also had to endure attacks from soldiers that were seeking to recruit and torture them.

One of the original lost boys, Makur Abiar, also known as King Deng, is a native of the Jurbile tribe in southern Sudan. He, along with many others, survived and escaped.


Pictured is King Deng, the original lost boy.

Today Deng and his family are residents of Knoxville. Prior to the war, Deng said he remembers having a good life in Sudan. But that all changed.

“From the beginning, my life was good, but when the war came all of a sudden Sudan life changed,” he said.

In 1987 Deng was a young boy in his village. Members of the People’s Liberation Army would go from village to village, forcing children to join. If they refused, the children were tortured until they joined. Deng managed to escape as the SPLA tried to kidnapped him and to recruit him.

“In 1987 I was maybe 9-years old when they came in on horses and the militia burned houses and killed people,” he said.“We marched and we made it — sometimes we’d sleep with no water, no food but we had different ways to survive.”

Deng’s only options for survival was to trust God to give him strength and to find safety in the trees as he avoided soldiers and attacks from animals.

“I’m here—God blessed me, I slept in a tree and the hyenas just laughed, maybe you would sleep or you would fall and the hyenas would eat you,” he said.

Deng suffered an injury during an air strike by the militia. He had been hit by a bomb. At the time a woman he did not know named Aluel, covered him with the remains of other victims of the attack and saved his life by hiding him until the attack ceased. Prior to their arrival in America, Deng and Aluel reunited later at Kakuma, a refugee camp in Kenya.

“When I came to the United States in 2001, I said this lady who saved my life I have to bring her,” he said.


King Deng is pictured with two of his sons.

Deng eventually plans on returning home to help others who are suffering. He said that he no longer has a fear of the unexpected.

“I never fear, if I fear I take a position of Jesus Christ, he died for me so why would I fear because I don’t have an enemy,” he said.

While Deng does intend to return to Sudan, he has found a place of peace in Knoxville. He said that Knoxville is a place of  refuge, beauty and tranquility.

“Knoxville is a beautiful place,” he said. “When I came as a lost boy in 2001 it was a dream to be in America.

“Knoxville is like a village to me and coming from where I’ve been you need to stay somewhere to relax your brain,”Deng said.

He said that being in America has opened his eyes to the issues of his own country and of the issues that are present today in the U.S. His ultimate vision is to see unity among all people regardless of their background.

“This land is not for one person, it’s for everybody and it is a Christian country,” he said. “My advice for this country is to bring people together as human beings. We need to come together and even the Muslim people we have to welcome.”

In the process of returning to his country, Deng is trusting God’s timing and wants the best for his family. He is currently in the process of completing many projects and has friends in the U.S. that are assisting him along the way.

Deng currently has a book published titled “King Deng,The Original Lost Boy of Sudan” and is in the process of completing a documentary film. His book is available for purchase on Amazon.


Brazilian indoor soccer coaching offered to campus kids

KNOXVILLE — Johnson Student Luciano Nascimento is teaching Brazilian soccer on Monday and Wednesday evenings from 4:30-5:45 the old gym this semester.

The lessons are open to second through fifth grade kids.


Nascimento playing against the kids

Nascimento, a native of Brazil, started a soccer academy in India, where he worked as a missionary teaching kids for five years.

Of the kids he taught, 10 of them went on to be professional soccer players.

“I don’t want to do any[thing] professional here, it is just for fun,” Nascimento said.

Nascimento will be teaching the kids the skills of futsal.

Futsal is a Brazilian game that was developed from soccer but is played mainly indoors. The ball used is smaller and harder. It requires more skill to learn, so when players transition to an outdoor field it is much easier.


Teaching the kids how to properly bounce the ball on their heads.

“The best soccer players in the world, they all start with futsal,” Nascimento said.

Along with the game of futsal, Nascimento hopes to teach the kids spiritually by praying with them, sharing Bible stories, and setting an example of how to behave at home and school.

No previous soccer experience is needed to join the free program.

If you have any questions contact Nascimento at


JU Royals, Suns take on ICOM 2016

Lexington — This weekend students from Johnson University Tennessee and Florida attended the International Conference On Missions in Lexington,Ky. This year’s theme was “Mobilize: Disciples Making Disciples”


Each year, participants from all over the world join together at ICOM to engage in the world of missions and learn what it means to spread the Gospel throughout the world.

The conference was based around the idea that the church should become disciples that mobilize and produce more disciples. ICOM challenges the church to engage in missions and assists in training, equipping, and mobilizing disciples through the power of the Gospel.

Along with JU students, many members of the faculty and staff traveled to ICOM.

“I’ve traveled to 48 different countries,” JU President Gary  Weedman said. “I’ve been to many of the countries represented here and I enjoy getting  to see people I’ve met abroad.”

Main session speakers included: Mike and Karolyn Schrage, Andrew Jit, Oscar Muriu, Frank Preston,Kyle Idleman and Lee Bridges.

Testimony speakers included: Yvette Mujawayuhi,Traci Harrod, Dennis Okoth, Duane Jenks,Timothy P, Yassir E and Scott Young. There were also skit performances by Chad Brown.

“It was super cool,” JUFL student, Lexie Goodman said. “I got to go out to eat with missionaries and we talked about long term in the field.

“I got a better insight of what my future could be,” she said.

Each day consisted of a morning session, worship, a time of offering, three workshops throughout the day,and concluded with an evening session.

While some students were attending ICOM for the first time, others attend ICOM every year.

“I keep coming back because it is my way of getting connected to the different mission groups here and seeing my old friends,” said JUTN student Ashley Curtis.

JUFL Student Body President, Seth McManus also attended ICOM and mentioned the unity between the two Johnson campuses present at ICOM.

“I love ICOM — We send more people each year and just seeing how they respond is great,” he said. “I got to meet with Kaleb Mullins (JUTN Student Body President) and just seeing the unity of the two campuses is super cool—  I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

All of the 2016 testimonies and sessions can be viewed on the ICOM 2016 Livestream. Next year’s theme is “Together” and ICOM will be held in Peoria, IL Nov. 16-19 2017.

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Harvesters raises soup-port for Mirembe Cottage

KNOXVILLE — Tonight Harvesters brought warmth to students, faculty, and staff of Johnson with homemade soups to raise donations for this year’s offering recipient.

Soups were submitted for attendees to pay to taste and vote on, along with hot cider and artisan bread.

p1220654Admission to the event was $3 to try three soups and for one vote towards a favorite. Attendees could also pay an extra $2 for another bowl of soup and $2 to buy more votes.

All of the money raised during the event will be given to Mirembe Cottage of Street Girls.

Macy Dyer, Special Events Coordinator, explained why they chose a soup cook-off for their Fall fundraiser.

“We knew that it would be kinda cool outside and we thought it would be a great way to get everyone together – everybody likes soup.”

Two soups, made by students Sarah Burns and Jordan Randall, were so popular they ran out early in the night.

“Jordan’s loaded potato soup had my vote, it was really good,” Katie Eikenberry, Harvesters Vice President, said.p1220660

Eikenberry explained how events like this are always a team effort for Harvesters.

“Obviously Macy was the head person for this event but everyone pulled their weight filling out forms, sending out media requests, getting it out on our social media, and just helping out with the smaller things,” she said. “So everyone played a large role in it – Macy does a fantastic job delegating.”

Eikenberry spoke on the importance of events like this one to raise support outside of baskets in chapel.

“I’m hoping that tonight we can make a good amount of money so they can continue building the school that they’re working on,” she said. “I know that that would be such a blessing to them.”

“It’s very important to support missionaries and mission organizations because without money they can’t function,” Dyer said.

Fifteen homemade soups were submitted for the event and it was attended by around two hundred students, faculty, and staff.

The final donation count will be announced in Tuesday’s Chapel along with the winning soup.

Harvesters will be holding a Chick-fil-A biscuit fundraiser later this semester, from which all proceeds will also go towards Mirembe Cottage.



Mirembe Cottage of Street girls selected as offering recipient

Johnson University’s 2016/2017 offering recipient is the Mirembe Cottage of Street girls in Uganda. The funds raised will go towards meeting the financial need to provide for the construction of a new home and school for the girls.

Every year, Harvesters connects Johnson with a missionary that is doing kingdom work throughout the world.

This year’s recipient, Mirembe Cottage of Street girls, is a part of Sonrise Ministries in Uganda.

Mirembe Cottage was founded in 2011 by Daniel Mugoda Awali. Currently Mirembe Cottage cares for 25 girls ages 6 to 16 and is in need of a larger home and a new school.

There is an urgent need to extend the home to take more girls off the streets of Uganda.The initial 3 room house can no longer fit the needs of the increasing number of girls at Mirembe Cottage.The girls have been in constant prayer for the construction of their new home. The new school is also essential to provide an education at a reasonable distance from the home.

The Purpose of Mirembe Cottage is to provide a safe, caring, loving and nurturing environment where the girls can develop spiritually, physically, socially, educationally, and emotionally.

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Director of Mirembe, Daniel Mugoda Awali, was once an orphan until he was saved by the Good Shepherd’s Fold home in Jinja, Uganda. As an adult Daniel reached out to several of the girls living on the streets and listened to their stories.

“I could feel the Lord tugging on my heart to rescue these girls and stop their suffering on the streets, to provide them a safe place to sleep, a warm meal, a place they could call home,” he said.

Many of the girls at Mirembe share stories of neglect, abuse, broken families, and a forced life of begging on the streets in Uganda.

At Mirembe the girls have the opportunity to grow into young women that become to know and experience the love of God. Under the care of Daniel and other caregivers, the girls receive love, food, education, and a safe place to call home.


The girls in their sewing class.

To ensure that the girls are being raised in a safe and healthy environment, there are many physical and spiritual needs that must be met.

This year students and faculty at Johnson will help contribute to their needs through prayers and offerings.

Every week there will be an opportunity to give in chapel. There will also be several fundraisers throughout the year.

All proceeds will go towards meeting the needs of Mirembe Cottage of Street girls.

To read some of the stories of the girls at Mirembe Cottage visit their website at


A21 Freedom Walk

KNOXVILLE – On Oct. 15, 8:30 a.m. over one hundred people gathered downtown to participate in the A21 Freedom Walk.

The Johnson University team had 11 representatives and raised $103.90 for the cause.

Together we walked in a single file line, in silence, for two miles around downtown.

The walk in Knoxville was one of over 270 walks happening around the globe today.

To learn more about the #walkforfreedom or A21, you can visit their site.

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