By Jim Predmore
“Pressing on Towards the Goal” was the theme of Turning Point Ministry’s annual banquet at the Old Eucalyptus Schoolhouse in El Centro on May 6th. The evening turned out to be a very exquisite event for the over 400 in attendance. The program included a tribute to Turning Point’s late Pastor and Director Mike Johnson, as well as a silent auction, dinner, music, guest speakers and testimonies.
Pastor Richard Moore gave the invocation and introduced one of the first students to graduate from Turning Point, Filberto. Filberto graduated in 1993 and now runs an orphanage in Mexicali and pastors a church there. He has gone on many missionary trips deep into Mexico and also to Haiti to help start an orphanage there. Mike Johnson talked about Filberto on numerous occasions, and loved to recount a time when they were crossing the border. When asked to state his citizenship, Filberto boldly pointed to the sky and said” heaven”. Filberto stated that he was so appreciative of Turning Point and how the program changed his life.
Pamela Littrell, from the Imperial County Probation Department was the first guest speaker. She talked about the working relationship that she had with Mike Johnson and how Mike went from someone on probation to someone truly respected by the department. Ms. Littrell stated that Mike was so respected that he was the only non- law enforcement individual who could book a person into county jail or call a judge and have a warrant issued. Ms. Littrell also stated that she would seek advice from Mike on numerous occasions and how she misses him.
There were testimonies from former students and parents of former students on how Turning Point changed the path their family was on and how grateful they were. All in the audience were able to get a real idea of the positive effect Turning Point has on families and the ability it provides to individuals to get their lives going in a positive direction.
The next guest speaker was Imperial County District Attorney Gilbert Otero. Mr. Otero stated that he was honored to be able to speak at the banquet and share what a good friend Mike Johnson had become to him. He spoke of how Mike helped change the thinking of the District Attorney’s Office and showed that programs like Turning Point, New Creations, and I.V. Ministries “do work” and can help people to change their lives and remove themselves from the judicial system. He stated that Mike had called him about two weeks before he passed to say that he wasn’t doing very well and how encouraging he was by Mike’s positive thinking. He was amazed that Mike was comforting him instead of the other way around. He also stated that Mike knew what he was doing when he put Norm Chandler in his place to continue what he had started.
Norm Chandler, then spoke of what an inspiration Mike was to him in his life. Norm stated that he could not fill Mike’s shoes, but that he has dedicated his life to Turning Point and to the visions of Mike Johnson. Norm is the Director of Turning Point Ministry as well as the Pastor of Turning Point Life Center since the passing of Mike Johnson, and his focus is on continuing the good works of both to see that Mike’s legacy continues.