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The path for the Rev. Johannesburg Boulware, bi-vocational pastor of The Journey church in Elizabethtown, wasn’t without some detours.
“I didn’t always walk close to God,” Boulware said.
The Hardin County native attended Mill Creek Baptist Church while a student at North Hardin High School and was called into ministry when he was about 15 years old.
Having discovered he was dyslexic when he was a junior in high school, Boulware didn’t think he’d do a good job in the ministry. He was reading at a third-grade level.
After attending Cumberland College and starting a construction business in the mid-’80s, Boulware began going to The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but didn’t finish. He began pastoring in the ‘90s, working in construction at the same time.
At one point, Boulware said he lived “outside God’s will” before he came back to the church.
It took him four years to make his life a mess, and it took God four years to get him out of it, he said.
“It’s changed every aspect of my life,” Boulware said of his faith. “I believe that’s what Christianity is all about.”
Boulware served as pastor at churches including Blue River Island Baptist Church in Battletown, helping it “get on its feet,” he said.
Because they are not financially strapped, Boulware and his wife, Cynthia, can do things and go places when needed to serve, he said.
The Journey church was established to reach out to those who are not connected to a church and those struggling with issues ranging from marital problems to substance abuse.
“The challenge for us here is to love people no matter where they’re at,” he said.
“We started this church from scratch,” Boulware said of The Journey.
The church, he said, had help from a lot of “core people” including long time friend Carl Corvin, Susie Stull and Tex and Evie Benningfield.
The church offers help to those who need it.
“I think everybody’s broken,” Boulware said.
Another way The Journey helps is by offering scholarships.
His bi-vocational role offers the benefit of staying in touch with those he serves, Boulware said.
“You come to church and you can be just as tired as they are because you’ve been working all week long,” he said.
Being bi-vocational does not diminish his role as a pastor.
“There’s no such thing as a part-time pastor,” he said. “When there are needs, you respond.”
Boulware counts his relationship with Christ as his first priority, followed by his relationships with his wife, children and work.
“The good thing for me is my family is just as involved,” he said, noting his five adult children work in his construction business.
When it comes to his life and faith, Boulware credited others with his success, including his parents, Raleigh and Joy Boulware, who he described as “two of the most Godly people” he knows. During high school, teachers such as his track coach, Bo O’Brien, invested time and energy in him.
“I am truly a byproduct of various people,” he said.
Later influences include Harmon Popham, former pastor of Tunnel Hill Baptist Church, who encouraged him to stay in the ministry, and Herb Williams, pastor of New Hope Community Church, who affected his style of ministry and service.
“Cynthia, my wife, is my right arm,” Boulware said. “We are truly a team as we minister together.”
In addition to serving as pastor at The Journey, Boulware volunteers at Warm Blessings on a regular basis.
The Journey is not just the name of the church at which he pastors, it seems to be a personally significant term for Boulware.
“I’ve seen God’s favor in my life,” he said.
Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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