Editor’s note: The following was submitted by Opal Shenbrenner. An author and former consultant for the Sunday School Board for the Southern Baptist Convention, she wrote this article about her grandson, Jordan Johnson.
Who would have thought a young man from a farm in the Oklahoma Panhandle would one day be the head strength coach at Jenks High School, one of the largest high schools in Oklahoma? Jordan Johnson always knew God had a plan for his life. The first step in that plan was high school in Texhoma, where he met Coach Ryan Rhoades who was not only his coach, but a friend and mentor. He encouraged and pushed the boys to be all they could be. Jordan began to realize that maybe God’s plan for his life was to be a coach like Coach Rhodes.
The path God had chosen for Jordan led first to Texas Tech, where he was able to work as an intern with head strength coach, Bennie Wylie, who had worked for the Dallas Cowboys. A Christian man of character, Wylie helped Jordan grow in his spiritual life. While in college, Jordan applied for a part-time position at Lubbock, Texas, Oakwood where he met Assistant Pastor Jerry Ramirez. Jordan was given the opportunity to assist with the athletic activities at the church. Ramirez also became a friend and spiritual mentor. This was just another step in God’s plan for Jordan’s life.
After graduating from Texas Tech, Jordan accepted a position with the University of Arkansas as a graduate assistant. It was here, under the leadership of Coach Houston Nutt, that Jordan began to realize what an impact he could have on the lives of young men, not only as a coach, but also as a Christian example.
He followed Coach Nutt to Ole Miss, feeling this was another step in God’s plan for his life, and was privileged to work with another group of great young men and coaches. Some of the young men Jordan helped train have gone on to play in the NFL.
Jordan received an offer of a position at the University of Texas in El Paso (UTEP). He wondered if this was part of God’s plan for his life. After much prayer, consulting with parents and some of his mentors, Jordan accepted the position. It wasn’t long before Jordan knew he was in step with God’s plan, because had he not gone to UTEP, he may never have met Amanda Jo Ratcliff, the beautiful, young soccer coach from Arizona, who later became his wife.
After UTEP, Jordan was led to Tulsa University as assistant coach under Bill Blankenship, another Christian man whose Christian commitment influenced Jordan’s life. God had opened so many doors for Jordan that he was not surprised a short time later when the door opened at Jenks High School. Again seeking God’s will and guidance in what he should do, he felt God was leading him to Jenks.
When asked why he gave up college coaching to go to high school coaching, Jordan’s simple answer was prayer. He had learned by now to ask for God’s help in making decisions.
He knew of Jenks’ tradition of excellence in their athletic program. After meeting Head Football Coach Allen Trimble, Jordan and was very impressed not only with Coach Trimble’s dedication to the Jenks athletic program, but his caring and concern for everyone in the program. This was the sort of Christian man of character who Jordan wanted to work with and learn from. When I asked how it has been since he’s been at Jenks the last two years, this shy, humble young man grinned, and his reply was, “pretty good!” I would say it was very good since in November 2013, the Jenks Trojans won the 6A state championship of Oklahoma . . . just another blessing from God.
I asked Jordan “who would you say Jordan Johnson is today?” Here is Jordan’s reply:
“I am the person I am today because of the excellent role models of my father and mother, Jack and Susie Johnson. My father is my hero and all my life I have wanted to be like him (except being a farmer!). Throughout my life, I’ve always known they love me, lift my sister and me up in prayer every day, and will always be there for me.
“I am a husband to my beautiful wife, Amanda Jo, and father to my precious daughter, Emma Jo.
“I am a coach because I want to make a difference in the lives of the young men I work with the way my high school coach and the other coaches I’ve been associated with have made a difference in my life.
“I am a Christian, because one day I repented of my sins and invited Jesus into my heart and I’ve tried to depend on Him for every decision I’ve made in my career. He has a plan for my life and I shall ever be thankful for all who have helped me along the way as I strive to carry out His plan for me.”
It’s not hard to see that God has orchestrated each and every step along the way in Jordan’s life. God’s plan has not always been easy or without trials. There has been lots of hard work praying and waiting for God’s will. Through it all, God has used coaches, players, family, and friends to help Jordan learn and grow in his career, and more importantly in his spiritual life. Jordan says today that 2 Sam. 22:33 is what he lives by: “It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. God is my Strength Coach!”