Faith at work: Bishop making his visions a reality in Troy

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 11, 2002

Features Editor

Since moving to Troy, Johnny McCray says he has been receiving visions from God.

He gets them at work and he gets them in the shower. Sometimes it is something as simple as saying a word to someone and other times it is as formidable as bringing the entire city together.

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"God has given me a vision, not only for Troy but for the entire nation ­  blacks and whites. We, as apart of the human race, should be able to fellowship as one," said McCray, who is a bishop at the Church of God and Jesus Only of Troy.

Through trying to turn his visions into works, McCray has learned to get along with a little help from his family.

With an evangelist for a wife and a pastor for a mother-in-law, the support was a natural thing.

It was the spirit of God that first attracted him to his wife, Janet, and his mother-in-law, Lillie Barrow, just came with the package.

"It wasn’t her looks that made me attracted to her, although I think my wife is beautiful. It was the way she let the Spirit use her."

McCray said he met his wife while visiting the church "and I have been in love with her ever since. I know I have a true woman of God," he said.

The connection the couple shares with the church and with God has made their relationship solid and the two are able to rely on the other for support in their careers. "When she is down in the spirit, she will come to me and say, ‘pray with me,’ and I do the same thing with her.

"When I married my wife, I also took my wife to be my best friend," he said.

The Pentecostal church is located in a small, white building on Adams Street that usually draws a crowd of about 30 people, but it is not uncommon for the praise to fill the streets around the church.

With all the music and shouting, the atmosphere at the church was described as "high" by McCray.

"It’s high. Real high. The spirit of God is really in us," he said. "The Bible says that everything that has breath should praise God, and we really believe in shouting to God."

There are four evangelists, one bishop and one pastor at the church, but McCray is mindful that a rose by any other name would still be a rose.

"It’s all the same. We’re all doing the work of Christ," he said.

Each person takes turns preaching to the congregation.

McCray has a vision about the church, as well. "You won’t read in the Bible about a white heaven or a black heaven. Up there, there are no denominations, just a heaven. It really grieves my spirit to see the separation.

"Blacks and whites can eat together, they can go to the same ball game and cheer for the same team, so why can’t we all worship together?" McCray questioned.

According to McCray, this self-imposed segregation is due partly to the history of the South and how some African-Americans still hold the present day white population accountable for it.

However, the problem was only apart of McCray’s revelation. He is also ready to find a solution.

He has not contacted any of the other churches in Troy yet, but he said he would like to find a way to get the different churches in the city to meet together for fellowship and worship. This is something that he thinks could only be done once a month and still make a difference.

McCray said he is also holding off for a little while longer to give God more time to finish speaking to him. "I want to make sure the vision is complete," he said.

The small congregation is predominately black, but McCray said the doors are open for anyone to join them in fellowship.

McCray said he puts a lot of stock in his visions, because he has seen the result through the congregation.

"You can see that the yokes are being broken by the tears that are rolling down the people’s faces. You can see the tears and the joy and you know it’s from God. You know," he said.