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Seattle Pacific University
Autumn 2007 | Volume 30, Number 2 | Features

John Wesley Johnson

Advocacy with a global reach

John Wesley Johnson
He grew up in apartheid South Africa, son of missionary parents, friend of blacks and whites alike. Today, he counts among his associates a Buddhist lama in Mongolia and a prominent judge in Albania. He champions a school for Arab Christians in Israel, and is on the board of Habitat for Humanity.

A husband and father of four who makes his home in Poulsbo, Washington, 1978 Seattle Pacific University alumnus, attorney, and businessman John Wesley Johnson believes that “the body of Christ universal crosses all cultural lines. Share what you’ve been given, leverage what you can, and look for bridge-building opportunities.” Twelve years ago, Johnson helped build just such a bridge in Albania, a former communist country struggling to gain its democratic legs. He served as a legal advisor to the newly created judiciary and for eight months worked out of an office in Albania’s Supreme Court.

A year later, he served as general counsel for Advocates International in Washington, D.C., helping to establish a global network of 30,000 Christian advocates who share his commitment to religious liberty and conflict resolution. “Christ brings barriers down,” says Johnson, who as a student headed Seattle Pacific’s Operation Outreach, the predecessor to today’s SPRINT short-term student mission experience. “Couple that with the tools in our toolbox as believers, and we can approach complex problems in faith, where others don’t know how to begin.”

Many would be surprised, for example, to hear of a Christian K–12 school in Nazareth, the city with Israel’s highest concentration of Muslims. Nazareth Baptist School is reputed to be the best Arab school in the country, with 20–25 percent of its student slots reserved for children of Muslim families.

“Education is a huge deal in Israel. This school is known for educating some of the region’s most accomplished leaders,” says Johnson, who is helping with site selection and fundraising to build a larger facility for the growing student body of 1,000.

“Muslim parents enroll their children at birth to secure a place in a school where the Bible is taught every day. Where else in the Middle East is that happening?”

Johnson, who met his wife, Laurie Harris Johnson ’80, at Seattle Pacific, thinks that the University’s Free Methodist missionary heritage has infused it with a global worldview. “Not only that,” he says, “SPU is training competent leaders. To be credible in the marketplace, you have to be good at what you do.” Clint Kelly {}

—By Clint Kelly []
—Photo by Mike Siegel

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Department Highlights

from the president
Going Global
President Philip Eaton asks the Seattle Pacific community to discuss what “global” means for SPU.

APA Accreditation
SPU’s doctoral program in psychology now in an elite group.

Street Vision
Hillary Prag '06 gives homeless teens a voice — through a camera lens and Seattle gallery showing.

books, film, & music
Behind the Faces
Four new films may help moviegoers learn to love and understand their global neighbors.

On the Fast Track
Jessica Pixler received numerous awards as a freshman, including an international gold.

my response
A Banquet of Languages
David Habecker ’93 says knowing multiple languages gave him a new perspective on life — and his faith.

Response art
Forbidden City
Professor Joanna Poznanska and her husband share “Forbidden City,” by a Chinese artist.