New Castle News

Local News

September 6, 2013

Smile starter: Woman’s compassion, faith help others cope

NEW CASTLE — Carol “Ruby” Johnston believes a little encouragement can go a long way.

It’s a philosophy that she and husband, David, have embraced for decades.

“We’ve seen people go through dark times and we just want to help them get through,” said Carol.

Reatha Gibbs, a friend of the couple, is one of many who have been touched by the Johnstons’ kindness. “Whenever or wherever they see a need, they try to meet it,” she said. “Carol is always praying for someone and encouraging them.”

Carol sees her mission in much simpler terms.

“Life is hard and it’s good to be able to put a smile on faces,” she said.

Carol and David have been married for 41 years. They are members of a ministry team affiliated with Prevailing Word Church that visits area nursing homes on a regular schedule, ministering in testimony and songs.

“People in nursing homes are just waiting for someone to come and visit them.”

For many, Carol and David are those “someones” along with others on their team, Gladys Mathews, Samuel and Jenny Holmes, Rose Chapman and Gibbs.

“I want to share Jesus with everyone so that they will want to go out and help others, too,” Carol said. “It doesn’t take much to open the door with a smile for someone or help them across the street.”

“She shows such compassion,” said Gibbs.

“I feel badly for those who are downcast,” Carol said.

Maybe Carol can relate because of what she has overcome.

A childhood bout with spinal meningitis nearly took her life.

“They called for a preacher three times because they thought that I was going to die,” she said.

It didn’t happen.

Carol called it a miraculous healing of God. “Look what he did for me,” she said.

“Sometimes God heals miraculously, but sometimes you must go to a hospital for an operation,” said Carol, referring to David, who is recovering from quadruple heart bypass surgery.

“I’m slowly getting my stamina back,” he said

Carol was born in Nashville, Tenn., but came to New Castle with her mother following her near fatal illness.

Carol dropped out of school in ninth grade, a victim of emotional bullying.

Self-conscious because of a learning disability, Carol was demoralized by the name-calling and constant tag of “stupid.”

“I was a quiet kid and didn’t have much self esteem,” said Carol. “I started to believe what they were saying.”

But in the midst of all that darkness came a bright light.

“When God came into my life, he changed everything,” Carol said. “When you trust in the Lord, he will get you through thick and thin.”

Raised by a single mother who was abandoned by her husband, Carol grew up in the Grant Street apartments.

About 20 years ago, Carol patched things up with her dad — a man she’d never known.

He came to New Castle and asked her for forgiveness.

He invited Carol and her four siblings to his home in Alabama for a family reunion, and they all showed up and have remained in touch.

“I’d always thought about meeting my dad someday.” she said. “I wondered what he looked like.”

Carol said it wasn’t difficult to grant forgiveness to the man who had turned his back on his entire family decades before.

“God forgave me for what I’d done so it was right to forgive my father.”

(Email: d_burcham@ncnewsonline.com)

 

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