(This week The Columbian-Progress spotlights Antonio Johnson.)
Q: When and where were you born?
A: I was born on June 20, 1962 right here in Columbia, but delivered by a midwife named Cora Jackson.
Q: Where did you attend school?
A: In my early years, I always attended Columbia School District until I graduated from Columbia High School in 1980. I continued my education at Pearl River Community College, where I earned a two-year degree in sociology, and then I went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in biblical studies at Exodus School of the Bible in Cleveland, Miss.
Q: Where do you work? Tell us about your job/company.
A: I’m currently employed in multiple positions that all revolved around people. I am the senior pastor at Owens Chapel Baptist Church, where I have served since 2018, and I also work within the Columbia School District as an ISD teacher assistant and a school bus driver.
Q: What led you to your profession?
A: I’ve just always felt in my heart that the work I’ve done over the years has been an assignment and a journey. It's been a calling from God.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?
A: I’d say the most enjoyable part of my jobs, interacting with people both at church and school, is having the opportunity to empower and impact people’s lives in a positive way for the glory of God.
Q: What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
A: At the same time, trying to help and interact with people on such a personal level, it can be incredibly challenging and it sometimes makes me feel helpless when people are hurting in their lives.
Q: What is the most important lesson you have learned in your career?
A: Throughout my life experiences, I believe a major lesson I’ve learned is the importance of maintaining humility and patience, and recognizing that all timing is under the control of God.
Q: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: When I was a little kid, I always wanted to grow up to be a football player.
Q: What was your first job?
A: I got my very first job when I was 16 years old, in 1978, and I worked on the “Yippy” summer program at The Myrtles Nursing Home.
Q: Who is the person who has been most influential in your life?
A: I’ve actually had two very influential people in my life – my parents, Robert and Ruth Johnson.
Q: What is your spouse’s name?
A: I’m married to my wife, Cora Brown Johnson, who is a Registered Nurse for the Mississippi Department of Health, but she also happens to be a minister who helps me with our ministry at Owens Chapel.
Q: Do you have children?
A: Yes, I am the proud father of four children (two boys and two girls), as well as the grandfather to six grandchildren. Our first granddaughter just graduated this year from Louisiana State University and we are so extremely proud of her...Geaux Tigers!
Q: If you could have anything for your last meal on earth, what would it be?
A: I think my very last meal on earth would have to be a combination of field peas, fried okra, fried squash, sliced tomatoes and some good old fried chicken.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: At this point in my life, if I could choose anywhere in the world to travel, I believe I’d like to go to Israel. I’ve never been there and it seems like it would be a very interesting place to visit.
Q: What hobbies do you like to do in your spare time?
A: I have quite a few hobbies I enjoy, including bike riding, playing ping pong and basketball, watching a good TV movie on Grit and Sci-Fi Channels.
Q: What do you enjoy about Columbia and Marion County?
A: Oh, that’s easy – Columbia and Marion County have been my home for all of my 59 years. I enjoy the fact that everybody knows everybody (for the most part) and it’s a very close-knit community with big dreams and a great place to live.
Q: What clubs or organizations are you involved with? Where do you go to church?
A: I'm a member of and attend, of course, Owens Chapel Baptist Church. I’m also involved in several different organizations, including the NAACP, Reign in Life Ministries, the Marion County Development Partnership, ACTS Fellowship, Safe Haven Outreach, Rural Pastors Initiative, and Belhaven University.
Q: If you could have lunch with anyone from your life or history, who would it be and why?
A: If I could sit down to lunch with anyone at all, it would be Dr. Martin Luther King because he was a man for all people.
Q: What is your biggest guilty pleasure?
A: Okay, I’ll admit it – my biggest guilty pleasure would have to be raiding the refrigerator late at night.
Q: What moment in your life has had the biggest impact on who you are today?
A: The biggest moment that has impacted my entire life, without a doubt, was the day of my new birth experience when I became a part of God’s kingdom.
Q: What is one thing you want to do that you’ve never tried?
A: One thing that comes to mind that I’d like to try is riding a motorcycle with my wife on the back.
Q: Using one word for each, what are your top three defining characteristics?
A: I think the three most defining characteristics for me would be: friendly, respectful and genuine.
Q: How would you like to be remembered?
A: When I’m gone, I would like to be remembered as a man who impacted the community with God’s love.