I graduated from The University of Georgia in 1988 and my mom asked me where I thought I would go to church. I didn’t know. She told me about First Baptist Woodstock and the article she had read about the explosive growth it was having in an old part of downtown Woodstock. For the most part, I didn’t want much to do with dead orthodoxy and felt like, from the distance, (without knowing of course) that another First Baptist Church was just that. I went anyway, and my story began to be written.
When I heard Johnny Hunt, I knew I must get to know him. I followed him around everywhere he preached. I met him in other cities just to be around him. My dad would let me use his frequent flyer miles to fly places with Johnny. We developed a unique and unusual comraderie that has affected my family intensely. He’s been a huge influence in my life!
It was in a Wednesday night service in his church that my wife Kim prayed and told God that she would give up her life, if her daddy would come to know the Lord. It was a very emotional night. It was in my first church, Mount Rachel Baptist Church, in Dalton, GA, on a Sunday night, that Jody Ridley would give his life to Jesus Christ. I remember baptizing him and him saying to me; “I’ve waited 20 years for this day.” Wow!
I got to spend these last two weeks with Johnny, once again, at his Timonthy Barnabus pastor’s school in Gatlinburg and Atlanta. He’s still fun to be around, worth being around, and awesome at doing what God has called him to do. He’s the real deal! He loves people authentically. His life’s success is not about his ministry but about WHO he is down on the inside, and HOW he lives his personal life.
To me, if his ministry declines tomorrow or skyrockets next week; it has absolutely nothing to do with WHO the man, the Christian, the father, the husband, the influence, and the friend Johnny Hunt is and has been to millions around the world, including me! If it were possible to one day dissect Johnny’s heart, I believe you would find as you peer through the microscope, the words, AUTHENTIC.
Johnny, thank you! I love you!