A Deeper Look

Surrounded by earthly paradise, many of the students who live in Hawaii need to hear about our heavenly one. John Allison has committed his life to share the glory and beauty of eternity with those who do not know Christ on the island of Oahu.

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A Deeper Look

John Allison | Jan 26, 2017, 15:11 PM

Surrounded by earthly paradise, many of the students who live in Hawaii need to hear about our heavenly one. John Allison has committed his life to share the glory and beauty of eternity with those who do not know Christ on the island of Oahu.

He had written "I never felt like there were any walls between us. Thank you for being my friend,” on the postcard he gave me before he returned home to Japan. I read it with tears in my eyes as I considered how God had blessed me with the friendship of this student, a student God had brought me 4,000 miles to the middle of the Pacific Ocean to meet.

I grew up in small-town Oklahoma with most of my extended family within 50 miles of my home. My mom became a Christian when I was very young, and my dad’s family has been Baptist since the dawn of time, so my family went to church faithfully every week. I think even from a young age, God was calling me to cross-cultural work. I was fascinated by the stories missionaries would share at my church, and I loved learning about other countries. For a while, “Big Bird Goes to China” was one of the movies I asked my parents to play every day during elementary school. 

I decided I didn’t want my way anymore; I wanted Jesus.

During middle school, however, things changed for me. Frequently bullied and the victim of abuse from older children, I became angry and bitter, learning to defend myself with sarcasm and condescension. I also became rebellious, and began making destructive choices. At church, it was easy for me to “play the game” and pretend to be the “good kid” everyone thought I was. Inside, I was struggling with all kinds of sin and brokenness. Then, God spoke to me.

One morning during my junior year of school, God asked me a question: “What are you doing with your life?” The weight of that question, and the fact that I had no answer, broke my heart. In that moment, I knew that if I kept going my own way I would have more heartache, brokenness, shame, and anger, but if I followed Jesus I would have purpose for my life. I decided I didn’t want my way anymore; I wanted Jesus. It was the first time I began following Jesus because I wanted to know Him for myself.

A couple years later, I was a freshman on campus at Oklahoma State University, and a friend invited me to join her for a party at the Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM). I went because I had nothing else to do that Friday. It was exactly the kind of community I needed to grow in my faith and learn to follow Jesus wherever he led me. I served as a part of the International student ministry at BCM and went on several mission trips to Asia. As a part of a discipleship course I was in called “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement,” I heard that Hawai‘i had a population that is 60% Asian. A year later, I was invited to join a ministry at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa.

Halfway through that one-year internship, I went to the Passion Conference in Tennessee. During the conference, Louie Giglio had different people stand for prayer, including people who were the only person in attendance from their campus. I stood up for UH, even though I wasn’t a student there, and in my section of the arena I was the only person standing. They gathered around and prayed for me, for the campus, and for the state of Hawai‘i. Two nights later, the names of all the schools represented were scrolling on the screen. When I saw the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, I realized that this campus of 20,000 was on the screen because of me. God was calling me to move to Hawai‘i and serve there.

I have been in Hawai‘i since 2005 and serving at BCM O‘ahu since 2006. I became a missionary with Reliant in 2012. They have been an incredible support to me through training and resources that I didn’t have access to before. I know that without their help, I wouldn’t have been able to stay in Hawai‘i as long as I have.

Though most people think of Hawai‘i as paradise, very few of O‘ahu’s 65,000 students on more than 12 campuses are believers in Jesus. God’s purpose for this small-town kid was bigger than I could have ever imagined, and I have been so blessed with friendships around the world just by serving here in Hawai‘i. I treasure those relationships just like I treasure that postcard from my friend, and I am so thankful that God has brought me here.

John Allison

John Allison
Associate Director, Campus Missionary

Honolulu, Hawaii Baptist Collegiate Ministries Oahu FD7396
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