C. Ivan Johnson visited Israel with Passages in June of 2017 after having just planted Greater Destiny Church in Tacoma, Washington. He originally heard of Passages through his denomination, Church of God in Christ, and having always wanted to visit the Holy Land, Ivan applied.

“I always had the desire to visit Israel, to see where Jesus had his ministry and see Jerusalem,” Ivan said.

Additionally, as a black man, Ivan felt a shared cultural connection birthed in struggle between Jews and the Africans, his ancestors, who were sold into slavery. He wanted to explore and understand that relationship more fully.

“I relate the persecution of the Jews with my own ancestry,” Ivan said. It is a great motivator for his continued education and desire to return to Israel.

While in country, Ivan was particularly moved by Yad Vashem, the renowned Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. He wanted to understand the hurt the Jewish community still carries from that event.

“There’s still so much unknown for the families who seek closure. The experience really provided a prayer point for me,” Ivan said, sharing his commitment to pray for those still affected by the Holocaust.

Additionally, Ivan shares that participating in baptism in the Jordan River and visiting a Kibbutz in southern Israel were eye opening highlights of his trip: the Jordan River was spiritually impactful, and the Kibbutz was impactful both geopolitically and culturally. Seeing bomb shelters on playgrounds really had a profound impact on him and made him realize the constant threat the Israelis face on a daily basis.

Ivan talked fondly of his tour guide who challenged his theological perspective. This strengthened his faith and reliance on God.

“I came back more fortified spiritually,” he said. After visiting Israel, Ivan came to appreciate the building in which he had planted the church. The old Jewish synagogue possessed stained glass that he hadn’t understood before, and after his visit to Israel, the images were clearer, and he came to appreciate their cultural significance. He says, “The art became more relevant to my life.”

To date, Ivan has written two books: A Servant’s Journal: Encouraging Devotions and Exhortations and Dominion. His first book, A Servant’s Journal, is a devotional geared toward those serving others in the church.

“Servants need to be poured into after having poured out from themselves,” Ivan said. 

Dominion, his latest book, is slated for release this fall and explains the spiritual significance of God’s giving humanity dominion over the earth. Visiting Israel and seeing the Promised Land God gave to his people created a perspective that contributed greatly to the writing of the book.

“We cannot forget the dominion God wants us to exercise. It is God’s desire that we infiltrate the marketplace with the influence of the kingdom through the working of signs, wonders, and miracles. We cannot forget who we are in God,” Ivan said.

Information on his books can be found on Greater Destiny Church’s website.

When asked what he wished to share with his fellow Passages alumni, he said, “Never forget the experiences we had in Israel. Continue to engage with Passages and support the mission. Go back.”

This Alumni Spotlight was brought to you by the Passages Leaders Network. For more alumni stories, visit the Passages Leaders Network.