An Award Long-Overdue for Charles Harrell Johnson, III

By Corey Brothers, Reporter

I said Son, “I consider this AWANA Citation Award Ceremony as your Rite of Passage into absolute Manhood — to lead, to protect, to honor, to love, to nurture, and to provide.” – Charles Johnson, Jr. (Photo by Rhonda Johnson)

It was a day of pride and honor and overall satisfaction when Charles Harrell Johnson, III received his AWANA Citation Award, an achievement that took a decade of dedication, and resolute and devout discipline. Ten years of hard work and memorization stood behind Johnson on October 3, the day he was awarded the highest recognition in the Christian International Club Ministry at West Chicago’s Glen Arbor Community Church.

Anyone who receives the AWANA (Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed) Citation Award memorizes up to 500 Bible verses over a ten-year period of time, and commits to community service or service projects. Johnson, a high school senior at West Chicago Community High School, received the AWANA Citation Award due to his conviction and his faith.

When asked, Johnson’s missionary, Ken Krup, said of Johnson, and the entire award process, “It was an honor to help present Charles Johnson III the Citation Award a few weeks ago. Charles attended AWANA at Glen Arbor Community Church and to earn this award, he needed to complete 10 years of materials (3rd – 12th grade). Each year’s curriculum contains about 30 weeks of content and requires scripture verses to be memorized. A Citation Achiever will usually memorize about 500 verses over the course of those ten years. It is a huge accomplishment to do that, it requires consistent hard work and motivation and many people (including me) are very proud of his achievement.”

Glen Arbor Community Church AWANA Commander Mike Eichin asks Johnson questions during the ceremony. (Photo by Rhonda Johnson)

Obtaining the AWANA Citation Award is no small feat. When asked about the process, Johnson stated, The Citation Award is for completing 10 years of work in AWANA. 10 years of work consist of 3 stages: T&T (Truth and Training), Trek, and Journey. A clubber must complete the required books in each stage to advance to the next. Each book has different topics regarding the Christian faith, and therefore different Bible verses and service projects.”

Johnson elaborated on the books required, saying, “For example, the high school book Journey: Witnesses deals with how to share the Gospel and includes activities/projects that help a clubber practice this skill. AWANA books famously include memorization challenges, as this is the most important part of the ministry. The goal with Scripture memory verses is for every clubber to develop an intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ by writing His Word on their hearts. To that end, each AWANA book has checklists to help students keep track of what they have memorized and what still needs to be done.”

As Krup explained, the AWANA Citation Award is a unique achievement that relatively few people receive; the ministry recognizes less than 600 recipients per year. 

The AWANA Citation Award, as presented to Charles Harrell Johnson, III. (Photo by Rhonda Johnson)

Johnson said that those working on the award are held “accountable by” “their youth leader” who reviews “their work, and by helping them recite their verses. Every lesson has prescribed verses to memorize. In the case of Truth and Training, each lesson has extra credit verses called ‘Silver’ and ‘Gold’, which are sometimes worth more candy points at the end of the night.”

Those working toward the achievement must also complete Bible Summaries. According to Johnson, “These are Bible reading assignments that occur in Trek and Journey; they require clubbers to read a certain number of Bible books, recite the main verse from each Bible book, and summarize each Bible book in their own words. Christian training seminars are another crucial part of AWANA. They take place during the Journey stage and are intended to develop servant-leadership in young adults. After an AWANA stage is completed, clubbers receive an award: T&T clubbers receive the Timothy Award, Trek clubbers receive the Meritorious Award, and Journey clubbers receive the Citation Award.” 

Prior to the ceremony on October 3, Johnson had been working toward the AWANA Citation Award for nine years. He boosted his progress to achieve the award early.

“I did two AWANA books in one school year, thus accelerating my progress,” said Johnson.

Not only has Charles completed the memorization work, but he has also worked on several service projects in pursuit of the award.

“Witnessing to my high school counselor; preaching the Gospel while at Great Lakes Bible Camp; doing a Halloween Outreach with Bible tracks attached to candy – just to name a few!” Johnson stated.

The award ceremony on October 3 recognized Johnson’s hard work and diligence; he was able to attend the long-awaited ceremony with family at Glen Arbor Community Church.

“It was a wonderful event that won’t be forgotten,” Johnson said.

Krup added, “The award program was a special time for his family and friends to celebrate a distinguished young person. I serve about 150 churches in the Chicago area, it is always a treat to attend these presentations.”

It goes without saying that the AWANA Citation Award is an incredible feat, and Johnson is deserving of recognition for his dedication, conviction, faith, and stalwartness. Follow the link to watch the video of Johnson’s achievement.