During the late 1960’s, Jeff Johnson was a surfing, opium-smoking hippie, following drug guru Timothy Leary, and living on the North Shore of the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Caught in the turmoil of the 60s as an adolescent, he attempted to fill the inner void and restlessness he felt with drugs, sex, parties, and surfing. Searching for the clear light—the truth—he studied under Paramahansa Yogananda, founder of the Self-Realization Fellowship. He also dabbled in various Eastern philosophies and practices, including: Buddhism, Hinduism, Hare Krishna, meditation and yoga. His search even led him to try hypnosis as well as numerous types of illegal drugs. In this “Age of Aquarius,” this time of peace and love, Jeff’s drug and alcohol use progressed from marijuana to barbiturates and amphetamines; LSD, peyote, and opium soon followed. What he wanted was to know truth. What he got was a drug habit that couldn’t be satisfied, police arrests, broken relationships, a son given up for adoption, emptiness, and disillusionment. Sensing that there must be something more to why we’re here, he continued his search until he found the inner peace and sense of destiny he longed for, followed by success beyond his imagination. The truth found him.
Pastor Jeff Johnson & Calvary Chapel of Downey
In May of 1973, Jeff Johnson became part of what was to become Calvary Chapel of Downey. Its beginning was in the unlikely location of Furman Park. By May of 1978, only five years after his start of a small fellowship. The Lord blessed Jeff with a fantastic facility, as big as six football fields.
With Jeff and Karyn Johnson now healthy and grounded in their marriage, its been 30 years and the once small group of a few hundred has now grown to a main sanctuary with many wonderful support ministries: House of Ruth Adoption Ministry, Sound Doctrine Radio Ministry, Mission Outreaches, Christian Schools – kindergarten through Bible college with many students of the Word of God.
Jeff Johnson was not just handed Calvary Chapel of Downey. He was not what most people would have called, an up-and-coming young man. But something changed all that; not drugs, money, or even the “American Dream.” You see all those things were of the world. Something he would later say was “Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, came into my heart one day, forgave my untold sins, and then changed my life forever!!!”
Calvary Chapel of Downey has grown to the 12th largest church in the country. The congregation is approximately 8,000 strong.