April 17, 2017

“If God calls you to be a missionary, don’t stoop to be a king.” – Jordan Grooms.

Barbara Johnson walks the streets and approaches the people that most of us drive past.

“Can I talk to you for a minute?” she recently asked a man in downtown Oklahoma City. “What’s your name?” The man replied, “Darrel.” Instantly, a connection was made.

“I am on a mission to bring smiles to people,” Barbara said.

She approached two other men with a gift she offers to the homeless. Plastic bags with items such as bottled water, snacks, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, and a little card of encouragement. “I call them ‘Hopeful Bags,’” she said. She also gives them a tiny notebook with a pen for them to write “their story.”

“I’m inspired by their story. I’m inspired by the conversations I have with them.”

Hope is certainly seen in the eyes of the people she meets. To make the conversations more comfortable, Barbara often shares personal stories of her own.

“When I was a little girl, I used to blow bubbles all the time,” she said as she held up a tiny bottle of soap bubbles. “How long has it been since you blew some bubbles?” Darell answered with a chuckle, “Well, it’s been a long time.”

“I want to give this to you, and I just hope it makes you smile today,” she said to two other men. One man grinned as he took the bubbles. His friend watched nearby with curiosity.

To Barbara, the conversation is more important than the bag.

Other questions you’ll hear her ask: Can I ask how long you’ve been on the streets? Do you have something that you’re wanting in your life? Tell me about yourself. Do you have good days? Are you comfortable? What do you think about while you’re sitting on this wall?

The big question is… why does she do this?

“It’s my hope that within me, they will see Christ in me,” Barbara said. “All of us want to be relevant. The fact that I wanted to know about him is going to impact his life. I’m certain of it.

“Everywhere we go – everywhere we place our foot – we are on a mission. And that mission is to spread the love of Jesus Christ.”

Barbara says anybody can do what she does. “It could be at the grocery store, it could be a smile, a handshake, patting someone on the shoulder and saying ‘Hi how are you?’ Just the very smallest thing. We are in peaks and valleys. Just when we do not think anything is possible, God opens a door. If we can enter into dialogue with anybody about anything, it can change the world.”

Darell agreed. “It makes you feel good,” he said with a thumbs up. “Blessed.”