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John Johnson winks over the top of his book, “Simply Saint Nick: My Life as a Real-Life Christian Santa Claus.” Johnson is a member of the Myrtle Beach Church of Christ.
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Photo provided by Michelle Johnson

Peace on Earth and goodwill to men: Christian Santa professes Christ

Church of Christ member views spreading holiday cheer as a unique ministry.

Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus — he’s even a member of the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame. 

Every year when the days grow shorter and there’s a chill in the air, John W. Johnson dons his Santa cap and the iconic red suit — and he’s been doing so for over 40 years. 

While these days his beard is more bushy, Johnson debuted in the role of St. Nicholas at the young age of 6 years old. 

Johnson, a member of the Knights of St. Nicholas fraternity and the Myrtle Beach Church of Christ in South Carolina, believes that being Santa Claus is more important than simply spreading holiday cheer. 

Rather, Johnson sees being Santa as a gift — his calling and ministry to others.

“I always start with a prayer of thankfulness,” Johnson said. “I’m always thankful for the chance that I have to go out and spread joy. And, in the process of that, I ask that he help me to show this world peace, love, joy and hope — the tenets of the season, the message of Christmas.”

The role of St. Nicholas extends far beyond posing in a mall. Johnson has visited hospice homes and hospitals and listened to children request healing of family members and the reincarnation of beloved pets. 

Many of these interactions are recounted in his recently published book, “Simply Saint Nick: My Life as a Real-Life Christian Santa Claus.”

“It’s an interesting thing in this role, I have always been able to impart wisdom that normally I wouldn’t as a regular person,” Johnson said. “I do believe that — to wax a little funny — there’s an angel on my shoulder, whispering every now and then.”

“It’s an interesting thing in this role, I have always been able to impart wisdom that normally I wouldn’t as a regular person. I do believe that — to wax a little funny — there’s an angel on my shoulder, whispering every now and then.”

Johnson tries to use those moments to share about the eternal nature of God’s love or — at the very least — offer a comforting, warm hug. 

“When you put on this suit, you become a part of something bigger,” Johnson said. “Years from now, people may not remember John Johnson. But they’ll always remember Santa.”

LISTEN TO AN INTERVIEW with John Johnson on The Christian Chronicle Podcast.

Filed under: Christmas and Churches of Christ community outreach Features holiday season holidays International Santa Claus Hall of Fame National People Santa Claus St. Nicholas Top Stories unconventional ministry

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