Go Make Disciples: Going Wherever He Calls
Chad Burchett | December 01, 2023
For Southeastern alumni, Grace and Mac Johnson, their resolve to go wherever God calls began with everyday steps of faithfulness to live on mission. Now they are serving in one of the most international cities in North America, actively reaching college students at a local university and making disciples at The Point Church in Vancouver.
When Grace and Mac first met in Nashville, Tennessee, God had already been working in both of their lives, planting the seeds of mission in their hearts through their families and churches and through their training and experiences at Southeastern.
The daughter of a student minister, Grace came to faith in Christ as a seven-year-old and was regularly exposed to missions as a child through Misson Friends and Girls in Action. During high school, Grace had opportunities to engage cross-culturally through mission trips, lead small groups, and be discipled in her local church. Through student ministry, she learned to lead and disciple others; and as she had occasion to serve in East Asia, Canada, and Tennessee, she developed a passion for reaching people with no access to the gospel.
Saved as a six-year-old, Mac also grew up in a ministry family — deeply influenced by the ministry of his mom, grandmother, and grandfather. In the student ministry at his local church, Mac was discipled and given opportunities to preach, teach, and lead discipleship groups. Mentored by his student pastor, Mac was drawn toward ministry by watching firsthand as Jesus changed students’ lives.
Through his mom’s and his uncle’s connection to Southeastern, Mac decided to transfer to The College at Southeastern in 2010 and graduated with a BA in Christian studies and a minor in history in 2013. The biblical foundation Mac received there fueled his passion for ministry and set him on a path of ongoing ministry, eventually leading him to serve as a student minister at Brentwood Baptist Church in Nashville.
Grace first visited Southeastern’s campus when her dad graduated with his DMin in 2016. She was immediately drawn to Southeastern’s Great Commission culture, and — even before she knew Mac — Mac’s uncle met her on campus and encouraged her to enroll at Southeastern. Grace started her MA in intercultural studies at Southeastern in 2018, taking hybrid and distance learning courses while serving in other countries and other states, including in Nashville.
“When I was a college student, Southeastern’s mission of equipping students to be professionals in the workplace who love God and others was massive in my development,” noted Mac. “Grace and I often say how proud we are of our degrees from Southeastern. It’s not just a school or a degree. Southeastern is the catalyst that aided and equipped our call to go wherever God calls.”
It’s not just a school or a degree. Southeastern is the catalyst that aided and equipped our call to go wherever God calls.
Motivated by the same passion to serve God wherever he calls, Grace and Mac married in 2019, and in their new life of ministry together, they both found that their Southeastern training kept them grounded and committed to the Great Commission.
“We have both recognized that our Southeastern education equipped us for ministry, gave us hearts for the nations, and built a support network of people who continue to pray for us,” recalled Grace. “We began to realize how much Southeastern had also expanded our ministry vision and resourced and equipped us not only for the what but also the why and the how of obeying God wherever He calls. We didn’t feel alone in the journey, and because of Southeastern, we recognized we were on mission together to know God and make him known.”
As Grace finished her Southeastern training, she encouraged Mac to continue his education at Southeastern, and in 2021 he enrolled as an MDiv student. As students, Grace and Mac were actively applying what they were learning in class to their ministries at Brentwood and around Nashville.
Through Brentwood, Grace and Mac got connected with The Point Church in Vancouver — a long-time ministry partner strategically planted to reach the campus of Simon Fraser University (SFU). As Grace and Mac continued praying about how and where God desired them to leverage their lives, God opened the door for them to move to Vancouver and for Mac to become the lead pastor of The Point. Affirmed, equipped, and sent by Brentwood, Grace and Mac moved to Vancouver in April 2022, eight months before Grace graduated from Southeastern.
“When we moved, we drove across North America, slowly saying goodbye to places that were formative in our journey,” recalled Grace. “The move was definitely an act of faith, saying goodbye to our families, friends, and ministry contexts. But as we entered Canada, we were greeted by the beautiful mountains, which reminded us of a verse from Psalm 121: ‘I look to the mountains, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven of earth.’”
When they arrived, Grace and Mac quickly embraced their community and got plugged in as chaplains through the Multifaith Centre on SFU’s campus. Partnering with other churches and Chrisitan organizations, Grace and Mac began engaging international students, young adults, and young families, developing gospel inroads and relationships in their new city.
As a highly diverse and secular city, Vancouver is 97% unreached. Marked by loneliness, anxiety, and depression, Vancouver is home to two major universities, SFU and the University of British Columbia. Its economy is also dominated by the tech and entertainment industry, which often drives the secularity of its culture.
These realities have presented many challenges to ministry for Grace and Mac, deepening their dependence on God through prayer.
“Some of the ministry challenges here are sharing the gospel with people who have been hardened, contextualizing the gospel among international populations, and defending the gospel in an exceedingly secular setting,” commented Mac. “There are many other challenges including detangling evangelism and missions from colonialism, acknowledging sin in the public square, showing that living a good life isn’t enough, and equipping believers with a solid apologetic to defend their faith.”
“We’ve both said how the past 18 months have challenged us in ways we never could have seen or imagined,” added Grace. “We’ve grown in our faith, many times while questioning whether God sees or hears us. Yet, every single time, God has proven faithful and worthy of our trust. We’ve been reminded that God is a global God, who desires all peoples to come to repentance, and that the Holy Spirit is the one who changes people. While we may think we can say the right things and implement the right strategies, real life-change happens when we submit to the Spirit’s work.”
We’ve been reminded that God is a global God, who desires all peoples to come to repentance, and that the Holy Spriit is the one who changes people.
As God has grown and sustained them through these challenges, Grace and Mac have also seen God sustain The Point’s disciple-making efforts in Vancouver.
“Our ministry strategy is to support and encourage the people of The Point to better love God, love people, and serve all,” commented Mac. “The Point is meeting the need for community among international students with true fellowship in the church. God has sustained The Point like he promises he’ll do with his Church. God has allowed The Point to build a very solid relationship with SFU, and to this day, we are able to serve the students and faculty in a variety of ways.”
Discipling men and women in the church to leverage their education, work, and everyday lives to reach the community, Grace and Mac are discipling men and women to make disciples who make disciples. As they seek to model a life of missional living, Grace and Mac have been encouraged by members at The Point who have found ways to intentionally care for their neighbors and share the gospel in a community resistant to a message of salvation and repentance.
Leading a church to be on mission in a city with difficult spiritual soil, Grace and Mac are often grateful for the training they received at Southeastern.
“Besides the theological knowledge I gained through my studies at Southeastern, the perseverance I developed from slowly chipping away at my degree has been so beneficial in a context with lots of hard soil to plow,” noted Grace.
“Southeastern has taught me how to craft and deliver sermons in a way that meets the people here where they are with the hope of the gospel,” commented Mac. “It has also taught me how to be a shepherd leader who guides, protects, equips, and encourages the people of Vancouver. My Southeastern training inspires me to live out the gospel here in Vancouver by being intentional to share the gospel in everything I do.”
My Southeastern training inspires me to live out the gospel here in Vancouver by being intentional to share the gospel in everything I do.
Would you join us in praying for Grace and Mac to be bold in their witness to their friends and neighbors and for The Point to continue growing in faithfulness to Christ and his mission?