Many Johnson alumni encourage young people to attend Johnson. But Bob Paddock recruited more than a dozen students to Johnson years before he ever attended a class himself.
Bob’s father, brothers, brothers-in-law, and several nephews graduated from Johnson, and when Bob was a boy his parents were good friends with Dr. and Mrs. Eubanks. He remembers campus visits with his family and being a guest at the White House.
“Johnson has always been a big part of my family’s life,” Bob says. “So it was natural to recommend Johnson to other people.”
And recommend it he did! Bob started in ministry at age 34 as a part-time student minister at Edgewood Christian Church in Roanoke, Virginia, and encouraged the teenagers in his youth group to consider Johnson.
“I told all the kids in our church that they needed to attend a Christian college, and there was only one place for them to go,” he says. “We’re just forty minutes away from Virginia Tech, but one year I opened up the graduation program from a local high school and more kids were going to Johnson than were going to Tech. One year twelve students from our church went to Johnson–that’s a huge number for a church of 200 people.”
Edgewood’s financial commitment to these students makes the number even more significant–the church promised to pay half of the tuition for each high school graduate who attended Johnson.
“The elders at Edgewood were dedicated to sending young men and women into ministry, and the church gave tens of thousands of dollars to support that goal,” Bob says. “Today those young people are now leaders at churches in the south, the midwest, and around the world.”
In 2002, Bob accepted a part-time preaching ministry at Cornerstone Church of Christ in Chatham, Virginia. When the elders asked him to accept a full-time position, Bob decided to take his own advice and enroll at Johnson himself. In 2005, Bob sold his house, quit his full-time job, and moved to Knoxville.
“My daughters and their husbands were also here as students!” he says. “We all lived on campus, although they graduated first.”
The elders of Cornerstone followed Edgewood’s lead in financially supporting students studying ministry, and twice a month Bob commuted more than 300 miles from Knoxville back to Chatham to preach at the church.
“It was easy to apply what I learned in class,” he says. “Whatever I learned usually found its way into my sermons!”
Bob met his wife, Marie Rackley, in Greek class at Johnson. Today the Paddocks live in Chatham, where Bob still serves as senior minister at Cornerstone. Marie, a 2008 graduate, established her own counseling practice called Olive Tree Counseling.
“We love Johnson and what the University has done for the kingdom,” Bob says. “We are ordinary people serving an extraordinary God and glad to be a small part of the way he is moving.”