Prophetic word unlocked my struggle with illness and released me for mission
Having had to take nine months off work due to illness, Darren Johnson has bounced back – and he and wife Jacky are seeing God do great things in Warrington
It took a major healing in Darren Johnson’s life to enable him and his wife Jacky to step out and start King’s Church in Warrington in 2002. At the time Darren was recovering from a number of health issues as a result of burn out and stress.
Darren reflects on how serious his condition had become and how a prophetic word from a friend turned everything around.
“I led an Elim church previously for 12 years,” he recalls. “It was a great church, but I just got into some unhealthy work patterns and I was advised by my doctor to take time out. I ended up being off work for about nine months. I was quite unwell, not able to speak to people properly. I even got quite anxious if I was with more than one or two people and I was feeling really quite low.
“But then a friend of mine was visiting from America and asked to see us. He didn’t know what was happening within my life but shared a prophetic word about God’s purpose for my life. It was almost like he’d been reading our mail and listening to conversations I’d been having with God.
“He spoke clearly to Jacky and I about a future and hope and encouragement, and then he prayed for me to be healed. It wasn’t instant, but what I noticed was at that point I stopped going down and I started coming up.
“We decided to follow God out into his mission for the church in Warrington. We moved and started from that position of weakness. We’ve got no ability to try and hide our weakness because God’s strength shows up well when we’re weak doesn’t it? It’s not about how good people are... it’s about how good God is, so if we can keep leaning into his strength, stuff happens.
At that point of weakness Darren and Jacky simply started gathering a small group of people in the living room of their rented home to explore the key principles of establishing a church in Warrington.
“We just wanted to see what could happen if we began to think very simply about what the non-negotiables of New Testament Christianity in a 21st century context looked like,” he says.
Those non-negotiables of discipleship, community and mission, that were agreed 17 years ago in Darren’s living room, are now being lived out through the well established King’s Church, Warrington.
Darren says that a key part of their vision to impact their town is through ‘missional communities’.
“We try to give permission to people as Jesus’ disciples to hear from him the people group that they’re passionate to reach out to,” Darren explains. “That might be a geographical neighbourhood, or an interest group, and we say to them, ‘OK, let’s give you some training and help you to form a team and start living the simple rhythms of an open relationship with God and each other doing mission together.’
“It’s all about seeing people released into being disciples, sharing their lives together, eating together, praying together, studying the Scriptures together and doing mission together and seeing people become Christians together.
“It has been encouraging to see people become Christians through the ministry of some of our missional communities and really having their lives changed. Our missional communities have been doing some very simple things over a period of time and seeing fruit from that.
“We dream that one day we’ll be able to partner with other churches in the town so it’s not just us, but that one day there would be an expression of church for every thousand people in the town. Whether that’s a missional community, a missional household, a congregation, a church plant or whatever... that we would see our town saturated with the good news. Then, if people want to follow Jesus, they can easily access a place where they can become disciples themselves and go on to make disciples.”
Why we’re on a mission together
Darren and Jacky first met while on a mission team in their late teens. Darren says, “Since then we’ve been on a mission together to see the church impact the world with the good news of Jesus. We have been married for 28 years and have two grown-up children, Abigail and Samuel. We believe that Jesus invites and challenges us to follow him as his people, so that must impact the whole of our lives. As a result, as a church, we have been on the adventure of being disciples who make disciples.”
A place where a group of churches go on a journey of learning
As well as leading King’s Church in Warrington, Darren and Jacky head up The Mission and Discipleship Academy.
“It’s a place where a group of churches go on a journey of learning together,” explains Darren. “We seek to learn how to be more effective in doing what Jesus asked us to do. Jesus commissions each one of his followers to be a disciple who makes disciple-makers. Clearly, there is much more that could be said about this. However, a simple application is this: because we are making disciples, shaped by who God is, we get to be a family of servant missionaries.”
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