BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — 82-year-old Bettye Johnson’s goal for her life is simple: Make a difference.
“If you’re hungry, I’ll feed you. You ain’t got no clothes, I’ll clothe you. I’ll do that. You ain’t got a dime in your pocket, I’ll give you one. That’s what I do. And I just give it and go on about my business. But what I give it, God takes good care of me!” said Johnson.
‘Mama Johnson,’ as some call her, said she doesn’t have much, but has exactly what she needs.
“Success is not always money! That is the one thing that has triggered us all and got us thinking, if you got money. Do you know that there are people that are billionaires, I believe this, but I ain’t ever been there. They’re miserable this morning, but guess what, I’m as happy as I can be. I’m full. I’m up. What else I need? Money ain’t that important. Hey! I don’t care what you ate this morning. I don’t care if anybody else ate a T-Bone steak. I ate grits and bacon and I’m just as full as you are. So it don’t matter what I ate, I’m full. And that’s life for us,” Johnson added.
Johnson’s life isn’t without challenges. After 58 years of marriage, the last five dealing with sickness, Johnson’s husband died.
“And I was talking to my son, and I know out of respect he figured, ‘daddy’s gone, who’s been taking care of momma and me, now he’s gone, what are we going to do?'” I said ‘Well David, if there’s anybody in Birmingham know how to make a living, it’s me. I can get by,” said Johnson.
Another challenge, becoming a pastor of United Missionary Baptist Church in her Evergreen Bottom Neighborhood.
Johnson is one of the only female Missionary Baptist pastors in Alabama and said she faced some opposition saying women shouldn’t pastor a church.
In response, Johnson said “How can you half-use me? You either use me or you don’t. Now you need me to get up and sing before you preach, but you don’t want to hear me preach. That’s using me! But it’s been a challenge for me to take on that church.”
Throughout her life, Johnson said she has used her faith to face her difficulties.
Through all the challenges life has brought her, Johnson said she is happy and continues to challenge herself to make a difference every day.
“So, I got a good life in front of me to live my last days here on this Earth and I want them to be my best days. But I want to be able to tell somebody about Jesus. I want to tell folks how to live right. ‘Cause you can sure live right, you ain’t going to be perfect, but you can live right,” Johnson said.
She hopes to continue growing her church and caring for others for as long as she can believing that if she has everything she needs, she can provide for someone else.