By Kelly Johnson with Dave Franco
Kelly Johnson tells how her trauma—as a little girl—is being used to touch lives today
Kelly Johnson walked through the Women’s Christmas Marketplace event looking at all the tables with Christmas gifts and Christmassy decorations—deep red, green, and gold—in every direction. She loved it. She noticed candles for sale, bracelets, soaps, and every manner of Tchotchke laying out to attract buyers. Then she came upon a table with dolls. She took one in her hand, breathed deep and smiled.
She was feeling so happy these days, so glad hearted to have made the Rock her new church and so joyful to know God had proven to be so faithful, just like He said. He had saved her from so much.
In fact, if there was ever anybody who could have expected to live out a desperate existence, it would be Kelly, who’s home life was a slow-rolling disaster. Her parents valued church and took the family regularly, but the interior did not match the exterior. The house was filled with bitter fighting, and her dad’s foul behavior when he drank, and a sister who was out of control which sucked all the attention to her. Her sister even had a baby and ran away at a young age causing utter havoc. Then came Kelly’s sexual abuse and anger at God, and the cutting as a way of relocating the pain she was feeling inside to the outside. Her dolls became her safe place, little bodies to caress and faces to talk to that never said a harsh word back. She cherished her dolls, Madam Alexander dolls, from her mom. They were her sanity.
Her dolls became her safe place, little bodies to caress and faces to talk to that never said a harsh word back.
But it was a young pastor and his wife who noticed Kelly’s pained behavior and got her in touch with a therapist that suddenly brought positive direction to her life. In time, Kelly began pursuing a deepening relationship with Jesus, and He has filled her with healing and joy and has proven Himself to be close and faithful beyond her wildest imaginings.
Suddenly she realized that she still had the doll in her hand. “How much for the doll?” Kelly asked Rosemary, the woman behind the table. Rosemary showed her the different dolls and the prices but also exposed one more detail about the dolls—a detail that was about to change Kelly’s life.
“I don’t just sell dolls. This is also a doll ministry,” she said.
“Doll ministry. What’s that?”
In the next few minutes, Kelly would see that her recent quest to find where God could best use her was now being revealed. “We get together and make dolls to give to the San Diego Police Department for kids in crisis,” Rosemary continued. “When parents are taken to jail over a domestic dispute, or when kids are abandoned by addicted parents—things that terrorize kids —we want to make sure they have a friend to hold onto. And boy do they hold on.”
"—we want to make sure they have a friend to hold onto. And boy do they hold on.”
Kelly held the doll and felt the comfort that a doll can bring come rushing back. She quickly decided that she would volunteer her time to lovingly make dolls alongside Rosemary and a room full of other ladies who talk about life, God, and pray for the children who will receive the dolls. In time, Kelly became the leader of the Doll Ministry. They have sent dolls to kids in such far-away places as Romania and Uganda, where they were able to deliver them to kids who had never seen dolls with their same skin color. In Mexico, they have even delivered dolls to a group of blind, elderly ladies who have nothing and no one to dote over. But they do now. And they are crazy about their dolls.
“If I wasn’t a kid who knew the security and comfort of holding a doll,” Kelly says, “I would have never stepped up to the challenge of leading the ministry. But this full-circle life that I’m living is a God thing. That’s why I’m so excited about it.”
To learn more about the Doll Ministry, email [email protected]