My name is Randy Johnston and I am a member of the Choctaw Nation. Our Nation is headquartered in Durant, Oklahoma and is the country’s third largest tribe. The Choctaw Nation, who had been mostly farmers in the Mississippi area for centuries, were moved by the United States military by the thousands from Mississippi in 1830, ‘31 and ‘32 to Oklahoma Territory. It was a poorly planned operation, further hampered by floods, mechanical breakdowns, food shortages and a big blizzard that first year, and thousands suffered and died. The move became known the The Trail of Tears.
Choctaws were the first Code Talkers in World War One. Navajos soon joined them in this effort. They translated military secrets over the electronics of the day using their native language. The code could not be broken by the enemy. Native American code talkers were used by the United States Army during World War II, including Navajo, Cherokee, Choctaw, Lakota, Meskwaki, and Comanche soldiers.
I want to take this opportunity to share with you what God has done in my life. When I was fifteen years old I had been attending a Bible study for teens on a military base near my home. The G.I. teaching the class gave us God’s plan of salvation and one night He explained to me key verses that helped me understand what it means to be saved.
Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”
Romans 6:23 “For the wages (payment) of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Romans 10:13 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
I got convicted and realized that I was a sinner on the way to hell. In my bed I prayed and asked the Lord to forgive me and to direct my life. I am so grateful that He saved me at that time. I remember telling my parents that I was saved. Their response at the time was that we were all Christians because we were Americans. They didn’t realize at that time that a person is saved when he repents of his sin and exercises faith by accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. Salvation is a gift of eternal life wholly by the grace of God apart from merit or works. All who believe on Him are justified (declared righteous) on the basis of His shed blood.
Acts 16:31 “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…..”
I Corinthians 15:3-4 “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
I Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering to us- ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
Many years later, my parents came to understand these truths and accepted Christ as Savior. We will be reunited in Heaven!
“In my Father's house are many mansions:if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:2-3
Shortly after I was saved the G.I. who introduced us to Christ was transferred away and no one took his place. I drifted away from the Lord for years, and my greatest sin was not getting into the Word of God. I did not comprehend at that time the importance of the Bible to grow in Christ (Psalm 19:7-11; Psalm 119:9-11; II Timothy 3:15-17).
People did know I was different because I was about the only one around who did not use the Lord’s name in vain. For all those years I could have witnessed to people, but I didn’t. I could have led by example of my faith, but I didn’t. Colossians 4:5 reminds us, “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”
In 1963 I married my precious wife Jane. She was saved in 1967 and I rededicated my life to Jesus. We began attending our local church. Hebrews 10:25 challenges us, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another:and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
Our next step of obedience was to publicly profess before others our salvation by being baptized by immersion. This symbolizes the believer's union with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. Every believer should be baptized because of the example and command of our Lord and that while there is no saving power in water baptism, it is an act of obedience and public testimony by those who are already saved (Matthew 3:13-17; Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 8:36-39; Romans 6:3-5).
We raised our three children with the Lord’s help and they and most of our 18 grandchildren to this point have accepted Christ as their Savior. We have daily Bible studies and pray. The Bible teaches us that the family is designed by God and should be led by a father who is shepherding his wife and children in love (Ephesians 5:25-33, 6:4; Colossians 3:19-20; Deuteronomy 6:4-6; Psalm 78:4-8). The wife is to support her husband as the church follows the leadership of Christ (Ephesians 5:22-24; Colossians 3:18; 1 Timothy 2:9-11). We have been married for fifty years and attend our wonderful church in Phoenix, AZ.
We continue to learn and grow in our walk with God. Two of my favorite verses that help me and bring me back to center are Philippians 4:8-9 which say, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”
I am a blessed man and am so thankful and grateful for what the Lord has done for me!