How Memphis Pastor Ronnie Johnson Went From Gang Crossfire to the Cross of Christ

Ronnie Johnson, pastor of Miracle of Redemption Church, Memphis, shares how the Lord delivered him from a life of drugs and gang violence. Baptist and Reflector photo

Ronnie Johnson, pastor of Miracle of Redemption Church, Memphis, has been shot four times and stabbed seven times. In his leg, he carries the scars of a 12-gauge shotgun wound the size of a softball.

“Of course I shot other folks too,” Johnson said.

Johnson was part of the gang Gangster Disciples until June 1, 1995, when he got “sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

During his time in the gang, Johnson watched two friends die in his arms. In and out of prison, he eventually started selling drugs and became his own best customer. He was addicted to heroin, cocaine and alcohol.

One day, a man with the Ronnie Tullos Evangelistic Association came to Johnson’s South Memphis neighborhood. He came up to Johnson and said, “Ronnie, look, I’m not trying to tell you to put down that big Custer that you like carrying, but if you’ll get Jesus in the temple, He’ll run all the money changers out.”

Johnson did not understand what the man was talking about and actually thought the man was with the police since the street was known for its “drug houses.” Johnson informed his friends to keep a look out because “the Feds (are) around the community posing as preachers.”

To prove to himself that the preachers were the police, Johnson went to visit their facility. However, instead of the police, Johnson found people singing hymns.

Johnson asked Ronnie Tullos, who owned the facility, for work, and Tullos told Ronnie to be back the next day at 9 a.m.

“Of course, in the street life, there is no set time where you come out to do dirty work you know,” Johnson chuckled. “It’s whenever you get up and get out.”

Once Johnson finally showed up at noon to work, Tullos started to turn Johnson away. Johnson grabbed the door and said, “Man, I need some help.”

Tullos invited Johnson in and shared the Gospel with him. He asked Johnson if he had ever been saved, and Johnson replied that yes, he had been saved in the penitentiary.

Tullos said, “Ronnie if you had been saved in a penitentiary, you wouldn’t be a crack addict now.”

The two men kept talking until Tullos said it was his prayer time when he normally prayed in his attic. He said if Johnson wanted, he could follow him.

“I followed him up in the attic, man, he prayed in such a way as if I never heard and never seen before a person do it. It was as if God was right there with him,” Johnson said. “And after he finished praying … it was just quiet and the Holy Spirit prompted me to pray, to cry out because he had quoted all the gospel of Romans.”

Johnson began to pray that more than anything he wanted to be saved.

“I don’t how I’m going to live it, to be honest, God,” Johnson prayed. “But Lord, if you’ll take me, here I am.”

Johnson noted, “Now, I tell folks all the time, God saved me, He’ll save anybody. I was lowest of the lowest.”

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Source: Baptist Press