The Life and Last Days of a Saint: Dr. Ben Campbell Johnson

John ArmstrongEvangelism, Love, Missional-Ecumenism, Personal, Spirituality13 Comments

Since our last update, Ben returned to ICU.

On Wednesday morning, the heart surgeon, Ben’s primary doctor throughout these last three months, shared with Nan that there was nothing else medically that could be done to improve his health. He felt that Ben’s body is just wearing out and it was time to consider comfort care and a move to hospice. 

Dr. Jim Keller, close family friend, a retired Emory doctor and the best advocate Ben and Nan could ever have, came to talk with the other doctors and asked Ben if he knew what was going on. Ben said yes, he did and that he was ok with the next steps of comfort care and hospice.

Ginger and Chris, Ben’s children, arrived yesterday. After they had some time with Ben, Jim Keller arrived and Ben motioned to see him. With the trac, it is very difficult for Ben to speak but when Jim put his finger over the trac, Ben said very clearly that he is ready to die. 

Nan and Ben had some time alone to talk where, several times, he told her he loved her. Nan shared with him that she would support his wishes and told him “I will help you with this”  What unimaginable unconditional love!

Today, Nan and all the children (even Mark on Speaker phone) and Jim Keller met with the hospice coordinator to arrange the move to the hospice unit at Emory later today.

I had the gift of being with Ben and Nan on Wednesday and read Psalms to Ben as he guided which ones he wanted to hear. For the last one, I was really having a hard time understanding him and thought he said ’21’. When I asked him, he shook his head no, then I guessed ‘1’, again he shook his head no, then he mouthed ‘121’ I knew by his expression that this was the right one!

So, I leave this with you now as a gift of encouragement shared by Ben for ‘such a time as this’

Psalm 121 A Song of Ascents. NKJV

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—From whence comes my help?

My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.

He will not allow your foot to be moved;  He who keeps you will not slumber.

Behold, He who keeps Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day,Nor the moon by night.

The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul.


The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in; From this time forth, and even forevermore.

Amen and Amen

My deacon friend wrote me earlier this week: “Ben will be greatly missed by this (Catholic) deacon.” Though I barely knew Ben he touched my life. I am reminded again that one meeting with one person can touch and impact a life very powerfully. I am sure Ben touched thousands of lives. He was filled with deep joy and empowered by abiding love. I am grateful that I was allowed to see this reality and be touched by Ben’s life. Now I pray for a safe and glorious final chapter in Ben’s earthly story. Go in peace dear brother. God loves you and you clearly loved him. What else can one desire in this life?

13 Comments on “The Life and Last Days of a Saint: Dr. Ben Campbell Johnson”

  1. Tonight after finishing Hearing God’s Call, I googled Ben Campbell Johnson, wondering about his next call after retirement. I admired Ben’s spirituality since reading three of his books. Much of what he shares I have experienced, but had no name or reason to think about it further. Through his work my call and way of discernment are affirmed. I thought we would meet at Columbia, but for sure we will meet in heaven. Thank you for influencing my spirituality.

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