A Salute to Our Captain
By Dale Breedlove
Our beloved captain has sailed away,
On the gentle breeze of an eternal day.
He set a course true with great adventure,
Bound for the protection of the Lord’s deep harbor.
He beckoned and trained the crew to carry on,
As he went forth to the great beyond.
We mind the rudder, rigging and sails,
As our ship encounters many swails.
Our captain learned patience, forbearance and persistence,
And called us alongside to lend assistance.
That our sound ship would sail Jesus toward,
And, reach out a hand to invite many aboard.
In 2000, my husband Scott, our 8-year-old son Caleb and our 11-year-old son Sam and I all went to Jolivert, Haiti for a mission trip. I had been on to other mission trips but my family hadn’t ever been on one – they never been out of the country.
My husband and I are nurses. When we got To Jolivert, the first thing we saw was a young man who was bleeding, profusely from a severed artery in his left arm. He had been cut with a machete! Dr. Bob and my husband rushed the man to the clinic.
Scott was wondering about exposure to all sorts of things as he assisted Dr. Bob as Dr. Bob saved not only the man’s life but his arm as well. Dr. Bob sutured carefully, so the man would have full use of his arm.I’m sure after being a medic in Korea this was not really remarkable for Dr. Bob. But it was remarkable for Scott.
The love Dr. Bob showed the skill Dr. Bob showed and the risk Dr. Bob took to himself on a daily basis was displayed on this very first day in Haiti.
Many things on that trip are very remarkable. Dr. Bob loved both of our boys and treated them as a grandfather would treat his grandsons. Both of our boys love him to this day. Scott and I now go on from 4 to 6 mission trips a year. During every trip we are reminded of the impact Dr. Bob had in our life and his name almost always comes up. He has left a wonderful legacy for us. We will always love Dr. Bob and Betty.
Friend and TECH Member
Twins Separated at Birth
I met Dr. Bob in 1998. My wife and I had served for six years with a different Haitian mission when we were declared unacceptable for reasons that were not stated. It turns out Dr. Bob and Miz Betty had suffered the same fate (as had Dr. Jerry and Betty McKinney). It seems that particular mission leader tolerated no individualism and is reputed to have re-situated more missionaries in Haiti than any other person or force.
In any case, Dr. Bob and Betty had begun a work in La Hatte, just down the road from the present site of Missions of Love. He graciously offered us a place to serve and that began the almost 20-year involvement with MOL and a deep and abiding friendship with a remarkable man.
The first factor I discovered was that where I was a rough and tumble New Yorker who attacked problems head-on, Dr. Bob was a kind and humble man who served rather than directed although history shows how much he did do. It has always been my belief that God had a plan which called for our divergent personalities to supply what was needed. I have always demurred from any elected role in the mission (although I have been a director from the start). Dr. Bob could cast oil on the waters that I might stir up. He was a classic family doctor of the days when one man did it all in a small town, a peaceful person, deeply devoted to God and dedicated to the betterment of mankind. I was a high powered surgical sub-specialist (ENT). We had both served our country in peace and war; he as an Air Force Corpsman and I as an infantry officer, flight surgeon, and otolaryngologist. We had both seen more than we needed to see.
The second factor I discovered was that Dr. Bob and I had so much in common as well as in contrast. He was the product of rural Kentucky. I was a big city street smart. We both struggled with our childhoods, albeit for different reasons. He had a lifelong battle with the bottle, which he won, and I came very close to being an alcoholic save for critical people the Lord sent to save me from myself and my long family history of alcohol abuse. Our medical fields were different but we both wanted to help people and share Christ. Jean (my wife) and I used to stay with Dr. Bob and Betty at the farmhouse when there was a board meeting. Betty was much younger than we were, but Dr. Bob and I were only a year apart (he was the senior). We quickly found that they were identical to us as “old married” folks. They argued the same way and loved each other very much. Dr. Bob and I even had the same taste in flannel shirts and at breakfast one morning he appeared (Dr. Bob liked to cook breakfast) in an identical shirt to one I had in my bag. Naturally, a discussion ensued as to who owned what shirt. It was quickly resolved in mirth but that was typical of our friendship.
I could go on for some time but suffice it to say, Dr. Bob will be missed and never replaced. He was someone who you wanted to be like and he did so much good in his life –at home and abroad.
Time and age, the disintegration of the body and now death are taking away those who pioneered this work. However, the work continues and we have faith that God will send new workers into the field to lift the torch such giants as Dr. Bob has passed to them.
Dear Friend: May God welcome you when He returns and comforts you in sleep until that time arrives.
Dr. Asa and Jean Talbot
Like the Apostle Luke, Dr. Robert Johnson was a good physician. Known to be a good diagnostician, and great cardiologist (though he did not specialize in cardiology), his articles were published in nationally known medical journals and periodicals. Medicine was not just a profession; it was to him a calling. He could have enjoyed more lucrative practices in larger cities, but he chose to remain in rural Ohio County. He saw himself as a country doctor and aspired to be nothing more and our community was blessed because he did.
Like the Apostle Paul, Dr. Bob was a great missionary. I was privileged to accompany him on two trips to Haiti. He loved the Haitian people and quickly learned to speak their language and the Haitian people loved him. Approaching their communities, men, women, and children would run from their huts to greet him with smiles on their faces. The only part of their joyful greeting I could understand was: “Dr. Bob! Dr. Bob! Dr. Bob!” Though he had no formal theological training, Dr. Johnson was the best missionary I have ever known.
Like Barnabas (Acts 11:24), Dr. Bob was a good man. He was authentic. There was not a pretentious or hypocritical bone in his body. What you saw was what you got. In his autobiography, The Calling, no effort was made to hide the warts or cover the flaws. He told it like it was. Yet, shining through those warts and flaws, like stars on a dark night, one could see a strong faith and a soft heart. Dr. Robert T. Johnson is a wonderful example of the change the love and grace of God can make in a person’s life, and the good that God can accomplish with imperfect people whose lives are committed to him.
Like the Great Physician, Dr. Bob was my friend. We came to Ohio County about the same time. I knew him over fifty years. I am grateful to God that our paths crossed and his life impacted my own in many ways. My life has been enriched for having known him. Thank you, Lord for this humble and good physician.
Pastor Glenn Armstrong
Dr. Bob and Sis. Betty are fellow soldiers and eternal friends! God Bless Them!
Joe and Hiawana Greene