You must earn the right

Published 7:10 am Saturday, July 7, 2018

By John Warren


Sheldon lived on the second floor of Martin Ruter Dormatory I lived on the third floor. I went to Southwestern after two years of college and six years of burnout!

During the six years God called me to ministry.   I was planning to go to Nashville for school but it closed.   I then met a girl at a youth director’s camp who was going to Southwestern I had never heard of it.

When I got to school that fall she would have nothing to do with me for she had met her future husband that summer. So I knew no one.

Sheldon was coming from Manor High School heading for ministry as well.   He was a big Swed raised on a farm.   Many times he would actually pick me up and carry me out of the dorm to go for a burrito at the favorite hang out, Ramgro’s Grocery, where you could buy groceries, a home made burrito or a gun from behind the counter or you could eat and play pool.

We double dated, shared our sorrows and led the Wesley Fellowship on campus. We went to different seminaries but still found a ways to get together.

As pastors, he would speak at my church and I would take youth to mission trip at his. When he hired a youth director at his church in Smithville, he thought of setting her up with his old friend from Southwestern but then decided he would date her instead. I was the best man in their wedding.

We spent vacations together and when I married, it was Sheldon who went out with me on my last night of singleness.

He retired from ministry this June. His first day of civilian life began July 1.

July 2, just seven minutes past his first day of retirement at 12:07 a.m., a drunk driver who crossed the centerline struck his car.

Sheldon was driving as his 13 year old son Ray was riding with him.

Sheldon’s wife, Sharon, was following behind him in another car with her sister TK.

The driver didn’t stop with hitting Sheldon but plowed into Sharon as well.

They were caravanning their last load of belongings to their new home in Smithville.

Sheldon lost his wife and son instantly.

His sister-in-law and Sheldon were sent to the hospital.

The drunk driver got to be life-flighted to the same hospital. Sheldon had to go by ambulance. He has broken bones in every appendage, pelvis, ribs and face, TK a crushed ankle.

Oh yes, and a broken heart.

I am not mad at God. I am mad at the man who thinks it is ok to drink and drive.

I am angry at a system that allows people with DUI’s to continue to drive. Driving is a privilege not a right. It must be earned.

Please pray for my friend Rev. Sheldon Johnson and Sharon’s sister TK Orsak they will need your prayers.


John Warren is Senior Pastor at First United Methodist Church, 502 North 6th Street in Orange.