During the late 1960s, 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. His walk with Jesus began.
Pastor Jeff Johnson & Calvary Chapel 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.
46 years later, with Jeff and Karyn Johnson now healthy and grounded in their marriage, the once small group of a few hundred has grown to a main sanctuary that holds thousands and offers many wonderful support ministries such as the House of Ruth Adoption Ministry, Sound Doctrine Radio Ministry, Mission Outreaches, Christian Schools– preschool through 12th grade, and a Bible college.
Jeff Johnson was not just handed Calvary Chapel of Downey, and 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. As he would later say, “Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, came into my heart one day, forgave my untold sins, and then changed my life forever!”