Meet Jonathan Johnson: Honoring the Father Ministries

I’ve known Jonathan as a neighbor, friend, and Minister of Recreation at our church, Riverland Hills Baptist in Irmo. During this time, I’ve never once heard Jonathan boast about his accomplishments on the ballfield. Instead of sharing what he has done, he’s more willing to share what He (God) has done in his life.

The young men at Dutch Fork High School are fortunate to have Jonathan as their baseball coach. Not just for what he can teach them on the field; but also for what he is teaching them off the field. After reading more, if you can help on their upcoming June mission, please contact jonathan@riverlandhills.org

Jonathan attended Florida State University, posting a 10-1 record with a 1.68 ERA as a freshman and earning ACC Rookie of the Year and Baseball America Freshman of the Year honors. Named to the All-ACC Second Team and All-America Third Team the following season he went 12-1 with a 3.17 ERA. Jonathan later pitched for Team USA in 1994 and earned first team All-American and second team All-ACC honors in 1995, going 12-3 in 19 starts with a 2.89 ERA and 130 strikeouts in 134.0 innings and led his team to its first ever ACC Championship, and to wins over Old Dominion in the Atlantic I Regional NCAA Tournament and Oklahoma in the College World Series.

He ended his three-year career with the Seminoles with a 34-5 record with a 2.63 ERA in 57 games (52 starts), struck out 391 batters in 363.1 innings, the fifth-highest strikeout total in ACC. One of his greatest honors was to be named to the ACC 50th Anniversary team in 2002.

Jonathan was drafted as a pitcher in the first round of the 1995 MLB draft (seventh overall) by the Texas Rangers. He pitched in the major leagues between 1998-2003 playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks, the San Diego Padres, and the Houston Astros.

He retired in 2003 but returned to baseball in 2006 playing for the Braves Richmond (AAA) franchise. In August of that year, he had his best month in going 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA in eight games (2 ER/12.2 IP) and allowing just a .191 opponents’ batting average.

Johnson has teamed with fellow prospect R.A Dickey to form “Honoring The Father,” a non-profit organization designed to impact school, athletic, and church groups. Honoring the Father Ministries is a team of professional athletes who seek to demonstrate a vibrant, personal faith in Jesus Christ.

Through missions, crusades, sports clinics, personal testimonies and various ministry opportunities, the members of HTFM strive to lead others into a personal relationship with an eternal God.

He is also an active participant in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and a much sought after public speaker. He and his wife, Kristin, reside in Irmo along with their their children, Tucker 12, Mac 9 and Susannah 7.

Honoring The Father ministries was originated in 1995 with the tithe from his signing bonus. Its purpose was to use the game of baseball to share Christ. In 1998 Jonathan’s father who is the President of Honoring the Father traveled to Cuba where he met an ex-Cuban pro baseball player that had retired after accepting Jesus Christ due to a vision to start a baseball sports ministry. Currently there are over 70 teams made up of men from the ages of 18-40 that the ministry supports and solely function under our ministry. These men hitchhike or walk hundreds of miles to cities close to theirs to play games against local non Christian teams. After the games they share their faith and invite them to the local church.

In the past four years, Jonathan’s ministry has averaged over 5,000 salvations per year.

Last year he took top leaders and started a youth league. They partnered with The Mail Box Ministry (a ministry that Jonathan’s good friend from FSU, JD Drew, funds) to give these young men ages 8-17 a chance to play organized baseball games. All of the coaches were men from the ministry and each week the kids discussed fundamental faith questions through the literature provided by the Mail Box Ministry. They had over 3000 kids register but only had enough equipment to allow 2500 to play. They had over 1000 salvations through the youth program alone. This league covered the entire island of Cuba. Every Providence of Cuba had multiple leagues.

On June 26 Jonathan will be taking Dutch Fork’s varsity baseball team to Cuba. They will have an opportunity to see firsthand what it means to use their talents in a positive way instead of selfish ambition. They will get a chance to help with these youth leagues and see the conditions these young boys not only have to live in but also the conditions of the playing fields in which they play baseball. The boys are responsible for raising their own money for this trip. The trip will cost about $1200 per player. The ministry also needs youth baseball equipment to take down to support the youth league where they are expecting over 5000 kids to register this summer.

To learn more, email jonathan@riverlandhills.org or visit their website at Honoringthefather.com