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Friendship that spans decades is an amazing gift, and even more so when the friendship is with people who you can trust, and love you like family. Ray and Laverne Johnson are that kind of friend, and the couple that I have chosen to serve as the on-site Chaplain and mentor at Tustin Veterans Outpost.
Looking at their photo, you might think this blog is about how Ray and Laverne are going to settle down for retirement. Instead, this couple that has always been ready to go and do however God leads, is settling in for another new adventure. Their satisfaction and enjoyment in life is fulfilled in relationship with God, and it has proven to be an exciting way to live!
“God is in this,” says Ray, about this new chapter in their lives. In an interview, Ray gives a glimpse into what they bring to the men and women at Tustin Veterans Outpost.
Ray says, “God has uniquely prepared me and Laverne,” to take this next step, to minister to homeless veterans. Throughout their years, Ray and Laverne have lived “in community” with others, and have experienced the powerful and positive impact that being in close relationship can have. This model of community means that Ray and Laverne live in the complex with the veterans, and are available, ready to give when needed.
This power of community is built into the military, their camaraderie, and is part of what gives strength to the military. But when a soldier becomes a civilian, a veteran, that camaraderie is lost. What works in the military doesn’t in civilian life, and they isolate. Those who have become homeless veterans are especially kept at a distance, even among other homeless people.
The Johnsons will serve at Tustin Veterans Outpost to break down the walls of isolation, by using their pastoral skills to build a community where it is safe to let down the walls. It is a place where a soldier’s service is respected, and where soldiers are equipped to build a new identity as healthy and strong men and women. Ray and Laverne know that love, being consistently available, persevering alongside others, modeling and speaking truth go a long ways to bring transformation into the life of someone who is ready to change.
Most importantly, Ray and Laverne have embraced this role because they know it is the next chapter in how they can serve others, by showing them who God is, and what it is like to have a relationship with Him.
Ray and Laverne Johnson:
Orange County Rescue Mission is blessed to have Ray and Laverne on our team!