CATRON — Jimmy Johnson, 59, bi-vocational pastor of Catron Baptist Church here in this Bootheel town where at most 50 people out of the town’s 80 may at any given time attend his church, believes in the power of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) church retirement plan.
“It’s worked out great for me,” he said. “It’s still one of the best programs I’ve ever seen—especially for us pastors.”
Johnson used to preach at Cottonwood Baptist Church in Caruthersville. One day he heard Gene Foster, MBC human resources/GuideStone specialist, talk about the plan, then explain it to his church leaders there along with helping them to put the matching funds in motion for him and his wife, Cindee.
“I wasn’t making a whole lot of money at the church, but the Lord provided anyway,” Johnson said.
He and Cindee have been serving for about seven years as pastor and pastor’s wife at Catron, which is situated in an area of Madrid County that is just off the southeastern tip of Stoddard County. They have been married for a total of 38 years, and they do remain very happy with the plan.
“It’s a pretty good little sum right now,” Johnson said.
Johnson dispensed some advice to young pastors, church planters, and future congregational leaders of the subsequent generation.
“If I had started this when I was 20, 25, or even 30 years of age, there’s no telling how much I would have had put in there,” he said. “I was in my early 40s when I started preaching full-time, and it was a couple of years before I started to get into the program. I wish I had known about it sooner. I would encourage anyone, young or old, to contribute and to put into the retirement that we have. It’s such a great, great deal.”
With the money that he has accumulated in the plan, Johnson can dream about living to be 100 years of age as he faces the future.
“I don’t plan on retiring,” he said. “I hope to die in the pulpit preaching. As a pastor or a preacher, I don’t think I can ever retire, unless something physically happens to me where I’m not able to do it.
“There’s always one more to reach with the gospel. That’s what God called me to do, and I plan on doing it till I draw my last breath. I hope I’m on my deathbed and I witness to somebody.”
He is thankful that as he tries to follow his dream he will have enough provision to do it well.
“I don’t have to worry about it, because I know it’s going to be there if I need it,” he said.