Founder & CEO (1960-1978)
Dr. Basil Miller was born into a humble home in Laconia, Indiana, February 26, 1897. He moved with his family to American Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) in 1905, and, nine years later, he entered a small Christian college in Greenville, Texas, to earn his A.B. and B.D. degrees.
An ordained minister in the Church of the Nazarene, after having pastored churches in Oklahoma, Basil was called to teach at Pasadena College in California, where he would receive an M.A. from the University of Southern California. Afterward, he would earn further graduate degrees (M.A., S.T.M., Th.M., S.T.D., Ph.D.) while pastoring churches in San Diego, Pittsburgh, New York City, San Antonio, and Pasadena, respectively.
In 1939, Dr. Miller was involved in a serious car accident and suffered a severe brain concussion, which kept him bedridden for a year and partially incapacitated for the next four. A heart attack in 1947 further complicated his life, but during his convalescence he began a writing career, and for the next 35 years he produced 200 books and thousands of articles for Christian publications, challenging Christians to use the one life that they have been given to advance the principles of Christianity in their chosen profession, thus promoting the ideals of Jesus in every area of human endeavor.
When several of his books on missionary themes were published in the 1940s, Basil received a number of requests for assistance from gospel workers in various nations. As a result of this correspondence, he founded the Basil Miller Foundation in 1950 in Altadena, California, and, in 1960, he changed its name to Worldwide Missions, founding it on the principle of training national leaders to establish indigenous and autonomous churches within the cultural soil of the people and nation in which they rested. This strategy led to thousands of churches being launched in developing nations around the world.
Beginning only with a mailing list of 200 names and cramped workspace in the basement of his home (and with no financial support other than royalties from his books), Basil established mission works in 20 countries in Worldwide Missions' first year. By the mid-1970s, that number would quadruple to 80 nations.
In 1978, after several decades of Gospel ministry, Dr. Miller passed away at the age of 81. Today, Worldwide Missions continues to honor the legacy of this faithful servant, whose leadership motto was "Our God is Able" (Ephesians 3:20).
President & CEO (1985-2021)
Rev. Fred Johnson was the President and CEO of Worldwide Missions from 1985 to 2021. He was born on May 4, 1936, as the eldest son of Morry and Bettye Johnson of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Fred and his three siblings were among the five founding families of Bethany Fellowship, an evangelical Christian ministry established to train, send, and fully support missionaries to advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ around the world. Fred's godly father, Morry, would serve as the Vice President of Bethany Fellowship for 35 years and would become to him a model of Christian ethics in business administration.
Hearing the Lord’s call to commit himself to the cause of evangelization and global missions, Fred enrolled in, and received his B.A. in Theology from (what is now) Bethany Global University. Ordained as a Minister of the Gospel by Bethany Missionary Church under the dynamic leadership of the Rev. T.A. Hegre, Fred married Elsie Wold of Minneapolis, who was also a Bethany graduate, and who had also heard the Lord’s call to dedicate herself to a life of Christian ministry and global missions. Fred and Elsie would be married for nearly 64 years and would have three sons: Joel, James, and Jeff.
After his ordination—for the next 64 years until the day of his death—Fred would labor faithfully in Gospel ministry, pastoring churches in New York and Iowa, leading literature ministries for Worldwide Evangelization Crusade and Bethany International Missions, working as a film representative for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, serving as the Vice President of High Adventure Ministries, and helping build the first Christian radio and television station in the Middle East, on the northern border of the State of Israel.
During this time, Worldwide Missions, which had been struggling for seven years since Basil Miller's death to find a visionary leader with strong administrative skills, appointed Fred as its chief executive. And for the next 36 years until his death, Fred would serve as the President and CEO of Worldwide Missions, raising and directing over $300 million to support churches around the world, Christian orphanages and schools, pastoral colleges, Christian AIDS ministries, disaster relief ministries, and the timely provision of fresh water, nutritious food, quality clothing, and freely administered medical care to tens of thousands of the world's poorest people.
In March of 2021, after 64 years of faithful Christian ministry, Fred Johnson passed away peacefully in his sleep at the age of 84. Worldwide Missions gives thanks to God for this incredible leader, who devoted his life to loving God and loving people.
President & CEO (2021- )
Rev. James Johnson was appointed as the President & CEO of Worldwide Missions in April 2021, after having served for many years as the ministry's Vice President. An ordained Anglican minister with over 23 years in the pastorate, he has also worked nearly 20 years in global Christian missions, and over 15 years in radio broadcasting.
On Inauguration Day 2017, James was appointed by President Donald J. Trump to the United States Department of Homeland Security, where he served as Advisor to the Office of Public Affairs, Senior Advisor to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Director of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
In that presidential appointment, James directed all federal, state, and local community outreach for the third-largest department of the U.S. government, representing DHS at key meetings in the U.S. Senate, strengthening faith-based collaboration between 13 Cabinet departments, and working with law enforcement and security agencies to advise churches and religious institutions on establishing and strengthening safety and security protocols.
James supported the President's federal policies to stop human trafficking, to strengthen the U.S. government's relationship with faith-based charities, and to end the anti-religious policies that had been preventing churches from receiving federal disaster funds to rebuild their destroyed property. James also directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency's community outreach efforts to help rebuild American cites and communities that had been devastated by three category-5 hurricanes. Moreover, he led DHS's on-the-ground response to law enforcement, state and local government, churches, and relief groups in Sutherland Springs, Texas, in the wake of the bloodiest church shooting in American history, which left 26 people dead.
James holds a B.A. in Theology from Bethany Global University and an M.A. in Public Policy from Regent University School of Government. An 8-time recipient of the Best Speaker Award in Toastmaster's International, James has taught nine subjects at two midwestern colleges: Economics, Government, American History, Western Civilization, Sociology, Language Arts, Ethics, Logic, and Public Speaking.
James and his wife Janis have been married for 36 years and have six children and 12 grandchildren. Three of their children are currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, and a fourth is preparing to serve after graduation from college.
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