by Alyssa Farr
Earlier this March while the weather was still deciding what to do, I had the privilege of listening to the wise words of Brian Johnson, “Pops”, on a cold but sunny afternoon at Metro Central. What I gained from our time is hard to express but the rich history and valiant honesty from Pops impressed upon my heart a true sense that God is with us no matter where we think we are. The conversation we had began with the question “how has Metro impacted you?” Here are some of the insights he shared in answering that question:
How did you come to Metro?
“I guess it’s been two years now since I was at Metro. I was at the Gospel Mission one day and I said what’s happening across the street there, it’s a church or something and I saw over top of it “Habitat Bar” and so I went over. I got in there just in the nick of time for open mic. I was so inspired that I had to listen because I know this person talking and I didn’t know this part of him. (Open mic) encouraged me to say to myself, ‘something is real here’. This is not just a gathering like you would at the Mission…When I found out that this was a church and I heard all those people talking it inspired me to change my mind, have another outlook in life.”
“The hard part (now) of coming (to Metro) is the love in here is so strong. I just can’t walk away… To feel love turns me into a marshmallow. To have respect turns my head to say, ‘God is real’ because this person can honestly still say ‘I love you’. (After) all the wrongs and sins, (if this person) still says (I love you) then now I say, ‘that’s God speaking not them’. I have done too many things (wrong) for a human to say this, so it has to be God in (their) life to still say this.”
“(Knowing that God is speaking) gives me all the courage, all the love to (say), ‘thank you God, you are real’. ‘Thank you God that you are keeping my eyes open, my mind clear, my heart true and alive’. I wasn’t alive before, I was just existing. I was like a person on a bed with a monitor, with life support – just a body with a heartbeat that’s all I was. Now, now I can think; now I can see; now I can shed a tear. I’m not saying that I am all clean – cleaner – but I’m not all clean. I still have dirt. You don’t wash 60 years of grime off in just one wash no matter how long you set it.”
“Like I told this one girl – she said, ‘I always take a bath’ and I said, ‘what? You wash in the bathtub?’ And she said ‘yeah’. And I said, ‘you get up and you don’t wash off? Just imagine you sit in dirty water, you get up and all your doing is drying all that sludge back into your body again…’ She says to me, ‘I didn’t even think of that’ and I said, ‘how can you not’ and then I said to her ‘try (a) shower glove, just try one. It will hurt you because its scratching and tearing off all the dead skin of your body and you can put it (anywhere).’ She went and bought a pair (of shower gloves) and she tried it and then said to me, ‘I have never felt so clean, it was like I stepped out of the old body and stepped into something else so clean, I couldn’t believe it’. I said, ‘see what I am saying to you? You are stuck in the old and you don’t want to try something new (but) because you did now you realize that the new is not so bad.’ And that’s where I’m at; I’m finding something new; I can say the word love; I can say the words ‘I need you’, ‘I want you’. I am just starting life again.”
“To find life though, when you are this old, you realize how much you have lost because life wasn’t with you…Now that life is with me I can see what I missed. I can see the love, the heart, the feeling, the knowledge of Christ, the wants of Christ. I couldn’t feel those things before.”
Thank you Pops for your words of wisdom. We are grateful to have you with us and as a part of us.
The Metro Community