September 21, 1921 – June 26, 2011
Born into an agricultural family on the Dakota plains, Warren’s family participated in the Ortley Free Methodist Church. Warren served as a Navy Seabee in the Pacific region during World War II. Just before he entered college to pursue a ministerial course at Seattle Pacific University, he married his high school sweetheart, Jean Rider, on August 31, 1946.
Warren and Jean planned for Christian service through pastoral ministry, although Jean, who had trained as a nurse, had a strong urge for missionary service. In 1949 during the annual World Missions Conference at the college, Warren also sensed a definite call to mission work. They applied to FMWM and were accepted. They were appointed to South Africa where they lived for 30 years. They arrived on the field in December 1951.
In South Africa, Warren and Jean engaged in literature distribution, church planting, evangelism, administrative duties and youth work. Warren traveled through the Natal-Transkei Conference teaching in the Theological Education by Extension (TEE) program and working with pastors in church growth planning. He tutored individual Bible school graduates preparing for ordination. As mission superintendent, he encouraged the development of African leadership. He was active in the opening of new churches among the vast government-sponsored developments near large cities, especially the seacoast city of Durban.
In 1977, Warren and Jean began a series of six visits to Malawi to teach in the newly-organized Bible school for Malawian students who formerly attended Lundi Bible School in Zimbabwe. Because of war in that country, the students were not able to continue their studies there. The Johnsons became part of several teacher-teams who helped the students complete their studies. In 1981 they took up residence in Lilongwe, where the school was located.
The Johnsons returned to the U.S. in 1982 and located in the Pacific Northwest. Warren and Jean pastored churches in Seattle, Washington; Tonasket, Washington; Anchorage, Alaska and British Columbia, Canada.
Warren’s Colleagues Write
Missionary colleague Florence Sayre writes, “Soon after we began to have holidays from the Rhodesian heat and took those holidays near Durban, South Africa, we met the gracious, hospitable Johnson family. Our children were about the same age and became friends. Warren was a dedicated servant of the Lord, and we saw him in action at our missionary family camps over the years. He faithfully served the Lord through all the ups and downs of mission work. We thank the Lord we had the opportunity to know him. We know our Savior has welcomed him home with open arms. Our prayers are with Jean and the children.”
Former Africa Area Director Henry Church writes, “Warren Johnson loved Africa and African leaders. The Bible School he and Jean founded in Lilongwe, Malawi, provided the foundation stones upon which the Great Commission Discipleship Training School in Malawi is built. He shares in the fruit of the gospel there. We are grateful for what he did.”