New York City
It was the summer of 1944 that Bishop S.C. Johnson, accompanied by some of the saints, ventured to New York City after a series of great and fruitful broadcasts that stirred a few of the honest hearted people longing for the true gospel of Jesus Christ. It was around 4 o'clock in the afternoon, on a very humid day in July, when this travel weary party arrived in new York, and ventured to New York's famed East Side. I am sure that everyone has heard of this section of New York which has reached its fame because of the gangs of "cutthroats" and characters of low degree that inhabit this particular section. The "slum" area of New York, and I do say, that no one in describing this section as "slums" has underestimated or underrated it as being such. It was here that Bishop Johnson went and here that he stayed the entire time he was in New York establishing the church there. We mentioned this particular event to show you how the "Man of God" humbled himself and suffered the heat and the squalor of this poverty stricken area simply to get to the people longing for the light of the gospel, the true word of God. It is really wonderful to see Bishop Johnson swing into action. Immediately, everything begins to move. One would think that it would take days for such a project as starting a church from "scratch" to get started. No sir; not so with Bishop Johnson. The same day he arrived, in spite of the acute housing shortage, he secured the second floor of a building at 216 W. 116th street as the site of the church. This particular floor had formerly been used as a meeting room for a political club. The interior was really in a dreadful condition. It had to be made presentable in about a two weeks period of time, for our Bishop had announced an opening date and everyone was anxiously awaiting the arrival of that date. Out of the jumble of infinite things that had to be done, a pulpit had to be made, a pulpit stand to be built, a pool built, signs painted for the interior and also the exterior, chairs painted for the interior and also the exterior, chairs bought, paint, and rugs. Oh, so much had to be done until personally my heart fainted within me. "How could we few people do all of the work there that had to be done?" I asked myself. It was so hot until even the air that stirred once in a while seemed to sear our skin as it passed by.
Listlessly, we wandered about the tasks that had been assigned to us. Only Bishop Johnson, alone, seemed to have any energy left after the heat sapped all strength and all vitality from the rest of us. He was tireless and undisturbed by the situation that had confronted us. He seemed to add strength and a will to do, to the rest of us as we watched him working at the different tasks to be performed. Busily hustling about up and down the stairs arranging different matters and calling in different men to assist with the work. Buying wood for the pulpit, paints, etc. Everything and everybody seemed to look to him for the necessary power to operate. This he gave incessantly. When everything was settled, much later, it looked as if it had stood undisturbed for years. No one realized the hardships Bishop Johnson had gone through to put everything there for our convenience. Once I heard Bishop Johnson make a parable; it was that on the United States Post Office building there is a sign that says, "Neither rain, winds, snow or heat can stop the United States Mail;" how much more the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
After what seemed an endless expanse of time and after countless effort, we were able to stand after two weeks had expired and gaze upon the completed tabernacle of the Lord. For one full week services were held in New York City. From far and near the people gathered until the building was completely filled. Maybe many came mostly out of curiosity, but we can say assuredly, they heard the true word of God. From Philadelphia, many of the saints traveled over and joined the crowd of people already waiting in New York City; many of who had been baptized in Jesus' name and filled with the Holy Ghost. But in New York City, we find it as we have everywhere else we have journeyed, the truth of the gospel was sadly needed. Many souls were born to the church at the time and they rejoiced in the God and rock of their salvation. From time to time during the year, Bishop Johnson journeyed back and forth to New York and began to destroy the kingdom of Satan in that city. A challenge came from a false prophet to our Bishop for a debate on Jesus Christ's being God. Readily, Bishop Johnson accepted the challenge and the debate was held in New York City. After the negative side presented their "tissue paper" argument, Bishop Johnson came forth and battered it into a million pieces with the truth of the word of God. We can say as I heard one philosopher say, "We witnessed a magnificent extravaganza," words flowed from the lips of Bishop Johnson as though they were drops of liquid silver: each one more desirable, more highly esteemed than precious stones of jewels. Do you wonder why we follow him? Why we are willing to go all the way with him? Because we are certain of his steadfastness. Because we know of a certainty that he is God called and God sent; because we have witnessed with our own eyes; and have heard him with our own ears "fight each beast" and rise the victor in all his combats. Do you wonder that we will be ever grateful to him for guiding our feet to the highway of life? That we will always be obligated to him for snatching us out of the clutches of false prophet who preyed upon us as voracious beasts, devouring the very life out of our souls; completely destroying all hope of eternal life. We can never praise God enough for giving to us such a man as Bishop Johnson.
Sometimes under the anointing of the Holy Ghost, he gives one the impression of not being like other natural men; but with the glory of God shining forth from the contours of his face, there is something eternal about him. Here is another reason that we know that he is God called and God sent. Once I remember through the many vicissitudes that has taken place in the too short period of time that we have known Bishop Johnson, one incident that has always been pregnant in my mind and I think I always will remember. Perhaps others were not impressed as I was, but to me it was a wonderful example of Bishop Johnson's self control in the time of a crisis. The lights of Manhattan trickled in the distance as we crossed the bridge that led from downtown New York to the tunnel that would bring us toward Philadelphia. It was about 1 o'clock at night and everyone was rejoicing in his heart at the blessing of the Lord that had been showered upon us while in services. Suddenly in the glare of the automobile headlights, we saw tiny drifts of snowflakes, gilt-edged in the light. In a few minutes the snow began to beat in thick blinding sheets. Brother James McDowell, who is the chauffeur for our Bishop, had to continuously get out of the car in order to keep the snow away from the windshield. Fluffy bits of snow splashes worked dutifully trying to retain a certain amount of visibility which was necessary to retain his position on the road. In route, we passed trucks that had overturned. We saw auto accidents, men cut, battered and bruised from the assault of the storm. Everything seemed oddly distorted and misplaced. Exactly how did the road curve? I am trying to describe to you the seriousness of the situation we were forced into, to outline a portion of this great snow storm. If you could have seen how calmly Bishop Johnson took the whole situation, surely you would have wondered how he could remain undisturbed in the face of such grave danger. He sat with his head resting lightly on the back of the seat and I am sure that he prayed continuously until the Lord delivered us safely at home in Philadelphia. God has worked many miracles in the life of our dearly beloved Bishop and New York City will long remember the echoes of truth that has prevailed in that great and wicked city. We know, however, that the very words that went forth out of the mouth of Bishop Johnson will be used as a witness against them in the day of judgment.