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God leads Jonesboro woman to help

By Ed Brock

God leads Adrienne Johnson to help where she can.

About three years ago he led her to Pinetown, South Africa, while she was visiting her niece who was doing an internship there.

"I saw the poverty and the struggle to live," Johnson said, and so she prayed. "I said what is one little woman from Jonesboro going to do about the poverty in South Africa. God told me he doesn't need me to solve the problem, just do my part."

Johnson, a 53-year-old mother of two and grandmother of three, has been doing her part in more ways than one. Along with her missionary work in Pinetown, she is the founder and president of the Lake Spivey Georgia Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. Founded in 1938 in Philadelphia, Pa., Jack and Jill of America is a group that brings together mothers and children for education, community service and fun.

She had been a member of the organization before moving to Clayton County from Fayetteville, N.C.

"When I came to Jonesboro I knew the importance of Jack and Jill and they didn't have a chapter here," Johnson said.

So she recruited 15 other mothers and organized the club in October 2003. One year later they were installed as Jack and Jill's 240th chapter.

Felicia Warner, 30, of Hampton was the first person Johnson approached to join the club. Warner taught Johnson's 10-year-old daughter Jayla at Suder Elementary School and when Jayla joined Young Stars Performing Art, a group of which Warner is director.

"I didn't know much about the organization to begin with but I liked the mission. It was about building families," Warner said.

The women in the organization range from teachers to housewives and a minister. They participate in parades, helped to decorate the newly founded House of Dawn shelter for teen mothers and attended government meetings. Johnson said they plan to hold etiquette classes and organize a field trip to the Harriet Tubman Museum in Macon.

As for Johnson's work in Pinetown, she said the donations she has raised with her husband attorney Joe Johnson has allowed the Rev. Paulos Ntaka of the Edamini Baptist Church there to build a bigger sanctuary.

"We also teach the Zulu people (who live in the town)," Johnson said. "We help to empower the women."

As a result of Johnson's work Shiloh Baptist Church in Jonesboro, of which she is a member, is planning to send seven to 10 people to the town in July to help build a school at the church, said the church's pastor the Rev. Otis White.

"Adrienne and her husband have been more or less our missionaries on the ground," White said. "This will be a first (mission trip abroad) as we are trying to be more involved in global missions."

Helping to build the school will help those who have supported the Edamini Church financially and the volunteers involved in the project to "see an immediate success in foreign missions," White said.

"We want to empower the church so it can have an impact on the community," White said.

The trip will also formalize the developing relationship between the two churches, White added.

Along with her missionary work and her work with Jack and Jill, Johnson and her husband also wrote a book, "Do's and Don'ts of Fundraising: How to be a Successful Fund-Raiser."

Anybody interested in joining the Lake Spivey Chapter of Jack and Jill can call (770) 478-2645.

And there's still room for volunteers to go to Pinetown in July. Interested parties can call Shiloh Baptist at (770) 478-9586 to volunteer.