Considering she was brought up in a family that was involved heavily in the church, Trelanie Johnson Willis’ life was such that she wasn’t active in sports.
Still, that never stopped her from assuming a competitive drive for maximizing her potential.
Having accepted her calling in ministry in April 2001, Johnson Willis has become a fixture in the Body of Christ, in large part because she has earned a reputation as one who boasts a heart for people and, most importantly, her devout faith in God.
No doubt, this vibrant, spirit-filled vessel has proven to be one who is on fire for God, considering she has, like many of her peers, become enlightened on what it means to weather even the toughest of obstacles.
Take, for instance, the dramatic sequence of events that transpired prior to Johnson Willis becoming a full fledge licensed ministered a little more than a decade ago.
While attending college in Atlanta, Johnson Willis and her classmate were heading to grab a bite to eat but were involved in a horrific car accident. As Johnson Willis recalls, it was a disheartening, devastating event that left many wondering if she would survive what undoubtedly was a life-threatening encounter.
“We woke up from an unconscious state, finding ourselves in the hands of an Atlanta E.M.T. team, using the ‘jaws of life’ to extricate the two of us from the car,” Johnson Willis told MemphiSport during a recent interview. “The crazy thing is, I didn’t even realize I was in an accident! I could have been dead and gone just that fast. I realized the enemy attempted or intended for my life to end pre-maturely, because the enemy must’ve known what my purpose was before I did. Hence after, I became more serious about ministry work.”
Consequently, it was because God spared her life that she sensed He strategically had more assignments for her to do on earth, assignments she knew full well she had to accept, considering how much the adversary attempted time and again to rob her of her life.
Today, Johnson Willis, who currently resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, heads Created For More Ministries, Incorporated, an organization that, according to this Miami, Florida native, was erected on a solid foundation, one that is housed in Galatians 5:22. The passage reads: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith.”
For Johnson Willis — a Clark Atlanta University alum who also holds a Masters of Divinity degree from Atlanta’s Interdenominational Theological Center — given her immense track record as a pillar to the Body of Christ, it’s safe to assume she has proven to boasts each of these pivotal attributes relative to the Apostle Paul’s familiar writing.
Among the reasons is that Johnson Willis doesn’t shy away from the notion that God strategically sanctified her which, according to Willis, is the primary reason she deemed it necessary to follow Christ.
“I chose to surrender the old me, for a better me,” said Johnson Willis, explaining how she had gone about forming her ministry. “God created me for more. He created me to give more hours towards prayer, more study of His word, more discipline, more focus, more love, more peace, more joy, more patience, more kindness, more long suffering, more meekness, more goodness, and more faithfulness more self-control.”
To her credit, it is because of these necessary commitments that she ultimately managed to connect with her vision, her lofty mission, or sorts, for organizing what she anticipates will be a life-altering ministry aimed largely at transforming lives throughout the world and the Body of Christ.
In other words, Created For More Ministries is destined to have a global presence in the coming years, a trend Johnson Willis believes will ultimately come to pass, given God, the Giver of life, spared hers 13 years ago.
Created For More Ministries is an organization that is God-inspired, according to Johnson Willis, let alone one that strives to edify, educate, and expound in the unadulterated word of God, within context for people of all ages. Also, this ministry is committed to embodying the principals of Jesus Christ, particularly with regards to how Christians should be fruit-bearers as well as encourage all believers to take their limits off and complete their divine assignment and purpose.
These components, Johnson Willis acknowledges, are achieved through the organization of workshops, seminars, conferences, ministering at worship services without denominational boundary, and more helpful services.
“I believe the Holy Spirit gave me that scripture to remind me that I did not choose myself to be a ministry gift, but God chose me to be a fruit bearer,” Johnson Willis said. “My interpretation of this is that, bearing fruit is not just what I do for Christ or in the name of Christ, like preaching or teaching the gospel. But, in addition to that, it means who I am in Christ. Fruit is a manifestation of the Christ within.”
The daughter of an ordained deacon, Roland M. Johnson, and a licensed Missionary, Renay G. Johnson, Trelanie Johnson Willis was raised in Carol City in Miami Dade County, Florida (or, she says, the “inner city”).
Today, Johnson Willis’ old neighborhood is called Miami Gardens which, according to her, “sounds more like a pleasant area to raise children.”
“However, when I grew up there, before my parents relocated to a slightly better neighborhood and as I began middle school, it was highly drug and crime-infested,” Johnson Willis said. “It was my parents’ goal to move my two brothers and me away from the inner city to avoid the negative influences.”
Two years removed from her near-fatal car accident, Willis met the love of her life, Pastor Levi E. Willis III, while attending seminary in
Atlanta. Consequently, the couple would marry two years, a union that unfortunately was short-lived.
On March 3, 2006, Willis died after a lengthy battle with genetic-related heart disease. For Johnson Willis, losing her husband was difficult to stomach. But like her well-established ministry, God salvaged her life because she was created to activate more faith.
“We connected and our spirits were immediately drawn to one another having similar religious backgrounds and family upbringings,” said Johnson Willis, recalling her relationship to Willis. “We were best friends, inseparable and to many friends, associates and relatives, deemed as a loving, model couple. During the course of dating and courting, there were times where he’d become more ill than other times. After realizing the severity of his condition, I was faced with the decision to love him through his circumstances or leave him. After much prayer, consideration and my faith, I stuck by his side, caring for him when sick and at times hospitalized, my unconditional love led me to holy matrimony in the winter of 2005.”
In assessing her life and ministry, it was because of the influential impact her parents exhibited in the church coupled with the Biblical principles she was taught as a PK — or preacher’s kid — that Johnson Willis’ family steadfastly instilled in their children there is a better world outside of Carol City.
An upbringing that was comprised of tireless hours and involvement in the church alongside an array of family members, Johnson Willis and her family also have become familiar with the Mid-South, most notably as frequent attendees to the International Holy Convocation that was held for years in Memphis by the Church of God In Christ.
Today, the annual convention is held in St. Louis.
“As a teen adolescent, my mother wanted to expose my siblings and me to the International Holy Convocation experience,” Johnson Willis said. “So, my mother saved her money so that she, my younger brother, and I could travel to Memphis. She believed and still believes that if you are a part of an organization, one should experience all that it encompasses. She afforded my brother and me a memorable experience that many have never experienced within the organization. We even stayed at the famous Peabody Hotel.”
By and large, it is because of Johnson Willis’ constant exposure and unyielding faith amid the tumultuous events she endured that have ultimately catapulted her into an immense limelight at this stage in her ministry, a sequence that figures to become recognized and embraced by countless individuals within and the outer barriers of the church.
In other words, Created For More Ministries undoubtedly will be around for quite some time, largely because Johnson Willis has become empowered to inspire others that there is more to life if they develop a commitment to seeing from beyond where they are.
Much like her parents taught her during her upbringing as a preacher’s kid.
“There was hardly any room for many other recreational or extra-curricular activities in my life like sports,” Johnson Willis said. “Because my upbringing was so strict, with limitations as to what I was allowed to do for recreational activities, I became deeply or heavily involved in gospel music ministry at my local church, and also sang with multiple community choirs, including the Miami Music Workshop Choir, and I recorded multiple times with the (Stellar Award Winning) the Miami Mass Choir, under the leadership of my cousin, Pastor Marc Cooper, before graduating high school or right before my first year of college.”
In essence, it was the assortment of life lessons and Biblical principles she learned as a child that essentially have given way to Johnson Willis organizing a well-established ministry with an itinerary that continues to fill up by the day.
Currently, Johnson Willis’ first book is in the works, and she is starting to garner invites to share her life-changing testimonies. In addition, she has decided to further her education, given she is pursuing her doctorate degree in Leadership.
No doubt, this vibrant, spirit-filled woman who hails from the heart of inner city Carol City has been created to put on display her assortment of God-given talents.
“God told me I would preach and teach, educate, but not in the traditional way I intended,” Johnson Willis said.
Still, her competitive drive for maximizing her potential is continuing to enhance the lives of many throughout the Body of Christ.
Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson is the former chief adjutant to Elder Andrew Jackson, Sr. of Faith Temple Ministries COGIC in Memphis. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, call him at 901-690-6587 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.