Deploying Disciples

Celebrating Ten Years

Dexter and Patriece Johnson are celebrating 10 years of ministry at Joint Base Charleston, a ministry they see reaching far beyond the base. The military personnel they disciple are involved in advancing the Kingdom around the world. Dexter shares the excitement of this vision, saying, “Reaching the military is one of the most strategic approaches to expanding the Gospel and living out the Great Commission. They naturally have a global mindset and they are leaders.”

Dexter adds that they emphasize making sure those who participate have ownership in the ministry, “We don’t want them to be spectators, this is their ministry, we want to empower and encourage them to be God’s man or God’s woman where they are.”

Over the course of their years in ministry at Joint Base Charleston, the Johnsons have seen an increase in brokenness among the young adults, many who grew up with absent fathers or mothers. Dexter and Patriece minister in this context by opening up their home and their lives so people can see them living out their faith. Jake, a part of the fellowship, said, “I see Dex as a godly father figure and notice the way he treats his wife and children. And Miss Patriece exemplifies the love of a mother. I grew up without my mother.”

The life-on-life ministry follows the example of how Jesus invested into his disciples, transforming lives through God’s love. Nikki came to a Nav retreat looking for friends. She had been embracing a lesbian lifestyle. Patriece invited Nikki to join a Bible study on base and the Lord began to do a miraculous work in her heart. After about two months of wrestling with the Lord, Nikki decided that she wanted to commit her life whole-heartedly to the Lord and end her lesbian lifestyle. Patriece took her under her wing and began to spend time with her weekly, studying the Scriptures, praying together, and working through some of her deep wounds. Nikki’s life was changed from the inside, and she has been bold about sharing how God’s love transformed her life. During her first overseas deployment she led a Bible study. Now her life purpose is to be used by God in the military.

The mix of people participating in The Navigators ministry at Joint Base Charleston is racially diverse. Some people are initially uncomfortable in this setting if they have not experienced such diversity in the past. One African American airman who grew up in Alabama had a negative attitude toward Caucasians because he had never been in relationship with them and felt that they were the enemy. His family had suffered because of racism. He was in a Bible study that was going through 1 John. Dexter and Patriece prayed that God would let the truth of Scripture penetrate the heart of this airman. First John 2:9 says, “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.” The airman stayed in the study, even though he was uncomfortable, and eventually he grew and experienced healing from past hurts. Now he shares friendship and genuine fellowship with others in the group. The Johnsons celebrate that their ministry can serve as a platform for racial healing.

The Navs Military ministry at Joint Base Charleston continues to thrive and Dexter and Patriece see the fruit of God’s faithfulness in the next generation of disciples. Here is what one veteran says, “I am so glad that I was part of a ministry that has sown so much into me and now I am sowing into others. I am looking forward to new opportunities to invest in the lives of more people who need God’s love.”

Note: Military personnel names changed

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