Keep Looking Up—God is in Control!


As a young man he was diagnosed with severe dyslexia. He was teased and ridiculed by teachers and peers, thrown out of the public school system, and classified as unlearnable. Yet, he was also the first African American from the state of Oregon to serve as a U.S. Air Force Presidential Honor Guard at the White House for three U.S. Presidents. How is Jesus using you to share?

Dr. Terry Lyndon Johnsson grew up in Portland, Oregon and later on in his education attended Portland Adventist Academy. Even though he struggled with dyslexia, he persevered and pushed on with his loving mother’s encouragement. With God’s help, he earned two undergraduate degrees, a Master’s degree, and a Doctorate degree. How are you responding to Jesus’ call?

Terry was talking with his nephew at a meal one day. He was telling his nephew that he worked at a hospital and the boy exclaimed wide eyed, “You work with doctors and nurses?” and Terry answered him, “Why yes! And you could too.” The nephew quickly replied, “Oh no! I couldn't do that I’m not smart enough.” Based on that conversation, Terry scheduled a day his nephew could come tour the hospital and meet people that he worked with. The boy had a beaming smile on his face as they finished the tour. Do you think this could possibly encourage a hope and a dream?

Dr. Johnsson currently works as Vice President of Mission Integration for the Pacific Northwest Region of Adventist Health in Portland. Terry believes in giving back to the next generation just like the generations before him gave to his generation when he was growing up. Most recently Terry founded Student Healthcare Leaders, a non-profit high school mentoring program. He wants to provide high school students the opportunity to learn more about the healthcare field. “Don’t let anyone take your hope from you and don’t let anyone take your dream from you,” Terry says. Even though Terry was told he was retarded, stupid, and a failure he kept his sights on his hopes and dreams.

On January 15, 2018, which was Martin Luther King Jr. holiday,  Dr. Johnsson, because of his commitment and dedication to foster positive change in the community and preserve the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was the first Adventist recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the City of Portland at the 33rd Anniversary of “Where Do We Go from Here …as People, as Family, as Community?” a tribute to Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and “Keep Alive the Dream.” Each year for the past 33 years the Portland community, out of 300 plus names, chooses only 15 people who have made a difference in their territory to receive this award.

2018 Lifetime Achievement Award
“This award honors those who allow us to be stronger because of their courage, resourcefulness, and their wisdom. As King did, these local heroes help us see the triumph beyond our struggles and challenges. And they remind us to work harder and stand taller so that, one day, we will hold up those who follow behind us.” (Taken from the Awards Program)

When asked what receiving this award meant to him, Terry responded, “As I remember being that little boy and reflecting on what the school system said to me—that I would never make it out of the 3rd grade. To be able to receive this award is affirmation of how great God is. God was able to show that when it all boils down, He is the one in control.”

Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute 2018

Dr. Terry Johnsson receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award
Click on the photo to see more pictures of the awards ceremony.

This award is well respected in the local schools and churches giving Terry hope that this will allow more students, through Student Healthcare Leaders to experience the healthcare field when he invites them to come.

Terry’s very intriguing and inspiring personal story can be found in his books: For His Honor and Aim High. www.adventistbookcenter.com

“Terry is somebody that hasn’t met anyone that he doesn't like or aspire to. He just lifts up people. That's just who he is.” ~ Don

“I’m new on the team with Terry and he is certainly the first to welcome you warmly and makes you feel right at home. Kind and thoughtful. All the ingredients a good leader needs, he’s got it.” ~ Kyle