LOVE for CHAMPION
“Do you want to know what moves God’s heart? Caring for those who cannot care for themselves. The Johnson family found this out when they gave their hearts fully to the Lord and fully to the care of young Connor. What was once considered a disability in Connor’s life is now his greatest asset—an asset Jesus is using to bless many other families around the globe. Champion is a wonderful book of hope and triumph. Read it and let God change your heart.”
—Christine Caine, bestselling author, founder of A21 and Propel
“I have watched Craig and Samantha Johnson navigate the new season of parenting a child with autism for the last fourteen years. And they have done so with wisdom, courage, and hope. I believe as you read their story you will be inspired and you, too, will find wisdom, courage, and hope.”
—Paul Osteen, MD
“As a pastor at Lakewood, I have watched closely how the Johnson family responded to the news about their son Connor. They chose, in the middle of great difficulty, to trust God and His Word above what they saw with their eyes and what they heard with their ears. They believed God had a greater purpose for Connor, and they were right. The story you will read in Champion is nothing short of amazing. The Johnsons have walked the walk, day in and day out. God has now shared Connor’s story around the world, blessing families everywhere. Jesus loves to use ‘the least of these’ to confound the wise. Champion is a book that will open your heart to the beautiful truth that there are no accidental lives—and every life can produce miracles.”
—Pastor John Gray III, associate pastor, Lakewood Church; author of I Am Number 8
“Our family holds Craig Johnson and his family in such high esteem as they have encouraged and championed us personally through the journey of autism. This book is so important and timely as we must learn to see differently, learn differently, and find a way for all people to truly belong and thrive. We have incorporated Champions Club into the soul of our church so that with all our hearts we can honestly say, ‘there’s a place for you here.’”
—Darlene Zschech, Hope Unlimited Church
“I love this family and I love this story. Champion is a wonderful example of what it means to trust God by praying bold prayers. After a season of discouragement, knowing their young son would live with autism, the Johnsons decided it was time to get up, believe God, and pray like they had never prayed before. They began with Scriptures and leaned on God’s Word every day. Read Champion, and you will have a front-row seat to how bold prayers honor God and make a big difference.”
—Mark Batterson, New York Times bestselling author of The Circle Maker; lead pastor of National Community Church
“It is my pleasure to give the highest recommendation for Craig Johnson’s book Champion. As pastors, Craig and I have a lot in common. As fathers, though, we have much more in common: being parents to children who are indeed champions. When my daughter Georgia received a difficult diagnosis, my family was hurt and confused. But as we looked to God, we decided we were going to see this new reality as a blessing. God would turn this into a message of hope. And since then we have not been defined by a diagnosis. Instead, Georgia’s testimony is inspiring lives everywhere. The Johnsons believed God was in their diagnosis and through their great faith, God has turned Connor’s story into a worldwide movement for good. So many families are now blessed because of Connor and because one family refused to accept a bad diagnosis. Believe what God has to say about your life. Believe you, too, can be a champion for the Lord.”
—Chad Veach, lead pastor, Zoe Church; author of Unreasonable Hope and Faith Forward Future
“In this beautifully written story of tragedy and triumph, Craig Johnson challenges us to a higher level of trust. How do brokenhearted parents move from ‘God, why did You let this happen?’ to ‘Why not trust that God has a bigger plan?’ I've watched Craig, Samantha, and Connor live this out. In Champion, Craig invites us to experience a miracle, no matter what life throws at us. This is a book that you won't want to put down, a book that could change your next ‘Why, God?’ moment. Why not believe God for a miracle?”
—Greg Surratt, founding pastor, Seacoast Church
“Champion is the story of how God uses any and everybody to make a difference—even a child with autism named Connor. Craig Johnson speaks from the heart to show how someone many might consider to be ‘the least of these’ can cause a ripple with an impact that spans the entire globe and changes countless lives. However, it would be a disservice to think that this book only speaks to the special-needs community. This is a testament to how every life has value and sometimes our purpose is revealed to us in what seems like our darkest moment. The Champion's Club is a critical movement that is rapidly expanding to give hope and dignity to millions of people."
—Chris Dowling, writer/director of Where Hope Grows; producer of Aspergers Are Us
“ ‘Even on your worst day, you may become someone else’s best hope.’ Craig and his beautiful family embody this quote over and over again. Their faith in times of trial and their willingness to help those in need is beyond inspiring. Champion shows that every mess can turn into a message and God always has a higher purpose for the pain, we just have to trust and use the tools He's given us. And with hope, love, and faith miracles do happen. The Johnson family are the true champions!”
—Victoria Arlen, ESPN on-air personality, speaker, actress, model, paralympian Gold Medalist
"I was so touched by Craig and Samantha's story that I had to go to Houston to meet Connor myself. Once again it's the genius of our mighty God that delivers a young man to change the world and turn disabilities into possibilities. I was so overtaken with the incredible impact this family has had on thousands of others that I made a life-long commitment to using our vast airwaves to raise up those with special needs by telling their stories of hope and encouragement. This is an extraordinary story of one family's ordinary circumstances. It will inspire you, and will encourage you.
—David Sams Founder and CEO KeepTheFaith Radio America's #1 Christian Radio Program
“Every obstacle is an opportunity to overcome. This is the core message of Pastor Craig Johnson’s new book Champion. This beautiful, encouraging masterpiece was created to help all people win, especially those who feel the odds are against them. Craig’s relentless vulnerability and unmasked transparency will be sure to help you and everyone attached to you. Even if the rest of the people in your world don't read this book (which I pray they do) they’ll surely be impacted by it because of the effect it’ll have on you. I champion this book because this book has championed me. Thank you, Craig.”
—Chris Durso, author of The Heist: How Grace Robs Us of Our Shame
“In your hands is a testimony about how the world is being blessed by one young man and God’s unfailing love. For the past seven years, I have had the privilege of seeing Pastor Craig and Samantha, Cory, Courtney, and Connor embrace God’s plan for their lives and use what is commonly thought of as an insurmountable hurdle, a diagnosis of autism, to further the kingdom of God. Their message is simple: God is faithful, and there is hope and joy in the journey. In my thirty-four years of ministering to Champions and their families in public education and church communities, Pastor Craig Johnson stands alone as the single most driving force in ensuring that these individuals have the resources they need to be prepared and positioned to make a difference in this world.”
—Sandra L. Robinson, PhD, regional director of Champions Club
“Pastor Craig Johnson is by far the most humble, godly man I have met and his story has impacted me immensely. I have been challenged to live beyond my circumstances, dream for the impossible, and allow our awesome God to do what only He can do. Champion is a book that captures more than a story and speaks the heart of God. As you read it your faith will be stirred.”
—Andy Kirk, National Director for Children’s Ministry, Australian Christian Churches
“Craig is one of the most encouraging people I've ever met. His huge heart is a vessel God uses to deliver hope to others, no matter what they may be facing. In this precious book Craig shares his family's story and exhorts us to look at what's going right in life, not what may be going wrong. Connor's life and the Champions Club ministry is changing thousands of families, churches, and communities all over the world. This is an important book for church leaders, friends, and families of children with additional needs and any person who needs an injection of hope and faith—everyone of us! Champion will challenge your mind-set, and you will see that ‘the least of these’ are ‘the best of these’!”
—Nathan McLean, children’s pastor, Hillsong Church Australia
“Craig Johnson is the epitome of a trailblazer. What he, Sam, and the Johnson family have walked through together and modeled has inspired so many, including myself, to fight for others in the midst of my own setbacks and challenges. I believe Connor’s story and the heart of this book will inspire you to be the champion God’s designed you to be!”
—Nick Nilson, young adults pastor, Lakewood Church
“Knowing Samantha and Craig for more than a decade, we have seen them raise an amazing family, lead a thriving ministry, and face the challenges of life with a son diagnosed with autism. Everyone should read Champion to experience their story and hear how God is using Connor to ignite hope within the most hopeless situations around the world!”
—Clayton and Ashlee Hurst, authors of Hope for Your Marriage
“In Champion, you get invited into Pastor Craig and Samantha’s world where you will laugh, cry, and be uplifted as they learn to navigate through the world of autism. Through God’s Word they have learned to celebrate the small victories. They know and trust that God has amazing plans for Connor’s future.”
—Norma Puga, regional director of Champions Club
“As a parent of a young adult with exceptional and often critical needs, Pastor Craig’s book Champion spoke straight to my heart and blessed me to know that there are other parents and families out there struggling with the same issues we have struggled with. It was also a gift to see how God is using the Johnson family for great good, even in the midst of sometimes difficult circumstances.”
—Mary Tutterow, author of The Heart of the Caregiver
“Champion challenges the status quo of any diagnosis. God uses all to His glory and you’ll see how He has used one little boy’s life to change the world! Read the book and join the movement!”
—Lisa Birge-Price, director of Special Needs Ministries, Champions Club Fresh Start Church, Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey
“Craig’s story proves the power of unswerving hope in God in the midst of difficult circumstances. This book will challenge and inspire you to hold onto hope so that you can be the champion others may need. Jen and I are immensely grateful for Craig’s courage to step out and share the vision of Champions Club. Our family and church are eternally different because of his love and God-given vision.”
—Jeremy and Jen DeWeerdt, senior pastors, City First Church
“Craig Johnson ignites the heart to believe and trust God in spite of any adversity! Champion is a must-read for every mom and dad who is believing God for a miracle in their home!”
—Rev. Adam Durso, executive director, LEAD.NYC; NYC Mayor’s Clergy Advisory Council
About The Book
Even on your worst day, you may become someone else’s best hope.
When Pastor Craig and Samantha Johnson moved to Houston to take a position at Lakewood Church, they thought they had it made. Two kids, a great job, a beautiful home, and a solid plan for the future. Their dream, however, was interrupted by the unplanned arrival of a third child, Connor.
Connor grew to become a normal, healthy toddler. When he turned two, however, something changed. He stopped talking, displayed behavioral problems, and was no longer the cheerful, engaged little boy they had known. No one seemed to have answers until the official diagnosis was handed down—autism.
Faced with seemingly insurmountable odds—a child who could not speak or respond with emotion—the Johnsons were filled with unanswered questions and deep sorrow. God quietly spoke to Craig’s heart, telling him Connor’s story would one day touch the lives of thousands of people around the globe. Craig and Samantha held that unlikely promise in their hearts during the years ahead. They accepted the diagnosis, but refused to believe their story was over. God was not finished with the Johnson family.
The Johnsons resolved to love their son with everything they had, no matter what. While Samantha watched over Connor’s daily needs, Craig began to search the Scriptures for promises from God, Bible verses they could all cling to. They made sure Connor did not miss Pastor Joel Osteen’s Sunday morning services and, over time, Craig and Samantha developed a long list of positive verses designed to instill a daily dose of faith, hope, and love into their family.
Then, one day, a miracle occurred.
Written with transparency and humor, Champion will inspire those in the middle of an unexpected trial to rise up and become someone’s champion.