Well done, you good and faithful servant

Published 2:29 pm Saturday, April 4, 2015

How do we measure a man’s worth?

Is it through the size of his wallet, or the size of his heart?

All the riches in the world cannot buy love and affection. Those are “purchased” by how a person treats his fellow man.

On Wednesday, the Roanoke-Chowan area lost a man who – through his actions, his heart, and his love – made our little corner of the world a better place to live. His God-given name was Arthur Lane Johnson. For those that knew and loved him, he was simply, “Artie.”

Through his volunteer work with Relay for Life and Samaritan’s Purse, Artie Johnson was first and foremost a person who followed God’s word of “love your fellow man.”

Wednesday night, someone posted on Facebook that Artie had a passion for helping others. They were absolutely correct in that assumption, but we can add a few letters to that word and boast of Artie’s compassion as well.

He was the type to wear his emotions on his sleeve…a real man crying real tears because he cares.

We have personally witnessed Artie’s compassion on more than one occasion. His eyes would fill with tears and his voice would crackle with emotion when he spoke of someone who had valiantly fought and died of cancer. He demonstrated that same emotion when speaking of a person now battling cancer.

One could tell when Artie’s heart was breaking as he spoke of the family members he had lost to this terrible disease.

And what path did he choose to take to fight cancer? He didn’t sit back and let someone else do the work; rather he stood at the forefront of that battle, serving multiple stints as Chairman of Relay for Life events in both Bertie and Hertford counties.

That same passion, and compassion, was evident when a three-quarter-mile wide tornado hop-scotched its way across the rural countryside of his native Bertie County on April 16, 2011. Ironically, that marked the final day of the annual Hertford-Gates Relay for Life.

Impacting the Askewville and Colerain areas, the twister left a trail of destruction and resulted in 12 deaths.

Once again, Artie Johnson rose to the challenge. He was among a small army of volunteers working under the broad umbrella of Samaritan’s Purse, an organization based in Boone, NC that provides emergency relief programs to victims of natural disaster, war, disease and famine. Those volunteers were in Bertie County on the morning after the storm, to include Johnson who served Samaritan’s Purse as a Case Manager and Logistics Coordinator.

Eventually – through a lot of blood, sweat and tears – the trail of destruction left by the twister became whole again. Johnson was there to oversee the rebuilding of Bertie County, to include several new homes through the generosity of Samaritan’s Purse and others.

There is a parable of a Good Samaritan in the Bible, one containing the phrase, “What must I do to inherit internal life?” Jesus replied, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Artie Johnson did indeed fit that description and heeded the reply of his Savior.

On Wednesday, we may have lost a man we so admired, but for those so fortunate to have been touched by all his good deeds, Artie Johnson lives on through them.

Well done, you good and faithful servant: you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter into the joy of your lord. (Matthew 25: 21)

– The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald