HFR believes that spirituality is a fundamental part of health. With this being said, we will be interviewing spiritual leaders across the world in order to present you with the facts necessary to find yourself, your calling, and your own spirituality.
Today, the founder of Health Fitness Revolution and creator of the ReSync Method Samir Becic sat down with the senior pastor of Lakewood Church, Pastor Craig Johnson to discuss his journey, healthy lifestyle, his program “Champions Club”, and his new book “Unrehearsed Destiny”.
Samir has a tremendous amount of respect for Pastor Craig Johnson and his creation of the “Champions Club” and admires the energy he puts into developing such an admirable cause, which will undoubtedly help many families and special needs children.
HFR: Please tell us about your new book and what inspired you to write it.
Pastor Craig Johnson: In 2005 we saw our son Connor change from being a typical child who had speech, would show emotion, and play with play mates shift to having no speech, showing no emotion, and stop interacting with people altogether. For us it was like a car wreck. One minute your child is one way, the next minute he’s totally changed. It wasn’t what we had planned. It was an unrehearsed destiny. We soon found out he was on the middle of the spectrum with Autism. It totally rocked our world. As we begin to walk through this incredibly hard journey as a family with our son we begin to see that everything we were going through God was going to use to help inspire and bring hope to others. We learned there was a greater purpose for our son then just being a typical child. We realized that even on your worst day you may become someone’s best hope. We begin to see that when you’re going through a storm the best thing you can do is be good to someone else. You not only help others but you get a different perspective about what your going through. So I begin to write a book to inspire people no matter where they are or what they are going through that God has not forgotten your destiny. Your greatest purpose is about to unfold. That journey became my new book “Unrehearsed Destiny
HFR: How important is health and fitness in your life?
Pastor Craig Johnson: It’s so important for your physical health but even more important for your mental health. I work out at least three days a week. When our son was diagnosed we begin to notice that he wouldn’t play like the other children. If you kicked a ball to him he would just let it bounce off of his leg. We also notice that many kids with special needs were not developing their muscles and engaging in good physical fitness. Through the inspiration of our son we launched Champions Clubs for special needs. A Champions Club are special developmental centers for kids that can go in schools, churches, and organizations. They have four key stations for development. A sensory station, an educational station, a spiritual growth station, and a physical therapy station. The physically therapy station might have a mini obstacle course, mini trampoline, swing, and different equipment to help the kids use their muscles, get all of that energy out, and develop physical fitness. We also encourage and give only gluten-free healthy snacks at all of our Champions Clubs. So as you can see health and fitness is huge in my home and in the work we do with our amazing Champions.
HFR: How do you feel health and fitness can improve your spirituality?
Pastor Craig Johnson: In the Bible in 1 Corinthians 6:19 it says, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who lives in you, whom you have received as a gift from God. God’s plan for us involves maintaining spiritual, emotional, and physical health. He wants us to feel good physically so we can serve Him and help others to be able to enjoy the life He has provided for us.
HFR: You created a really phenomenal program at Lakewood Church, Champions Club as a resource for parents, please tell us the inspiration behind the idea and the goals for the organization.
Pastor Craig Johnson: One day I was walking through Lakewood Church and God spoke to me in my heart and said, “Look at what you are doing here at Lakewood for typical kids. It looks like Disneyland. Now look at what you are doing for special needs children.” Less than 1% of churches in America have anything for special needs so we were like a lot of churches doing very little. Then God said, “Those kids deserve the very best just like every other child.” So even though I didn’t know exactly what to do, we pulled together some of the top special needs research doctors from the University of Texas Medical Center, we brought in some of the top educators for special needs in Houston, and we brought together some amazing parents who had kids with special needs. They became our task force and for an entire year we worked on what would become the Champions Club for special needs. Champions Club is a specially designed developmental area for kids, youth, and adults with special needs. Our goal was to develop a program that would meet the developmental needs of children in four important ways, SPIRITUALLY, INTELLECTUALLY, MENTALLY, and PHYSICALLY. Our focus was on spiritual growth through God’s Word, developing the intellect of each participant through the five senses, educationally through various learning tools, as well as engaging the child physically during active gross motor fun. We can adapt Champions Clubs to a school or public facility environment. Now there are Champions Clubs in schools, churches, hospitals and facilities all across America and around the world.
HFR: Being a Senior Pastor at the largest church in America can get stressful- what do you personally do to unwind and relax?
Pastor Craig Johnson: I work out at least 3 days a week, take long walks with my wife and children, and our family takes short trips away and a yearly vacation. All of these elements have been huge to relieve stress and stay healthy.
HFR: If you could give 3 life tips to everyone, what would they be?
Pastor Craig Johnson: 1. Put God first place in your life. It’s hard enough doing life on your own. If you do he will give you just what you need when you need it and take you places you’ve never dreamed you could go in life. 2. The goal is never more important than the person. You can’t take any of your money, possessions, or titles with you when you die. The only thing you can take with you is your relationships. Work hard, do your best, go for your goals, but don’t do it at the expense of your relationships. 3. Be generous with your life to help others. I heard someone say, “Being successful doesn’t necessarily make you great. What makes you great is when you reach back and help someone else become great.” Real giving occurs when you give someone something that you want to keep. Don’t let your gifts and talents end with you. Sometimes we think to really make an impact in someone else’s life we have to do big things but I always ask myself the question “What is the least that you can do? Half a loaf of bread is better than no bread at all. Can we give a smile? Can we speak a few words of encouragement to someone today? Can we give someone some quality time? Someone needs what we have to give.
HFR: Tell us more about your son Connor…
Pastor Craig Johnson: Connor is now 12 years old. He’s doing amazing in his school and is a mentor to other kids in his class. He loves God and can quote over 40 scriptures. Connor is a foodie, he’s never met very many meals he didn’t like. He has been the inspiration for Champions Clubs and has impacted millions of people around the world. Connor’s miracle of speaking his first words has been written about in six different books. We are right now negotiating the movie rights to “Unrehearsed Destiny” to share our story. You can check out more of Connors story at www.championsclub.org or www.connormoments.com or get the book Unrehearsed Destiny on amazon.com
HFR: Can you share something about Pastor Joel Osteen?
Pastor Craig Johnson: Not many people know this but Joel and Victoria are two of the greatest advocates for special needs. They, along with Lakewood Church, have walked alongside my family in our journey with our son Connor. They have helped pay for his schooling and medical needs as well as giving thousands of dollars to help launch Champions Clubs in places that could not afford to launch them on their own. We have launched Champions Clubs in a women’s home for homeless mothers with special needs children in Washington DC, we have launched Champions Clubs in inner city schools from San Francisco to Houston. We’ve launched Champions Clubs in third world countries like India and Africa, where these kids are forgotten and considered a curse upon the family and watched Joel and Victoria bring hope and healing to these kids and families. We are about to launch our first Champions Club in an orphanage in Guatemala where kids are being thrown out on the streets because parents can’t take care of them but now they will be able to take them in. Joel and Victoria Osteen have not only been a part of that but they’ve been some of my greatest supporters. I know no other pastors that have done more for special needs in the past 6 years than the Osteens.
HFR: Would you like to add anything else?
Pastor Craig Johnson: I am so grateful to my wife and children for all of their support and inspiration. We have walked on this journey from the very beginning together and they are my human sunshine and my greatest accomplishment. Along with them we are launching the Champions Foundation 501(c)3 to help launch Champions Clubs for organizations who cannot afford to help families with special needs. I just finished writing with Dr Sandy Robinson the first Christian Curriculum for Special Needs in history. This is going to be an amazing tool to help develop these Champions to be everything God has created them to be. Special needs are rising at an alarming rate around the world. Every country I visit says the same thing…we are meeting more special needs families needing help and we don’t know how to help them. Autism is now the #1 developmental disease in the world. These families are hurting, feel rejected and forgotten. But there is hope.” I am believing more people are going to partner with us to bring hope and healing to these families. These kids and teens are not throw aways, they are masterpieces. I know they have been forgotten in the past, but they are not forgotten anymore.