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Our Heritage

Johannson-nysum-1Rev. Paul & Gloria Johansson

Rev. Paul Johansson presently serves as Chancellor of Elim Bible Institute, of which he was President from 1994-2006. He is the Founder and Chairman of the Board of the New York School of Urban Ministry in New York City.

He and his wife, Gloria, have served 11 years in missionary service in Kenya, East Africa. There, along with other responsibilities, they established the All Nations Gospel Church and co-founded the Nairobi Pentecostal Bible College.

He holds a Masters Degree in African Studies from New York State University in Brockport. He spent 17 years at Elim Bible Institute as Dean of Students while teaching in the classroom and counseling Bible School students. He is a regular speaker at missionary and leadership conferences and holds overseas ministers training seminars.

He spent ten years in New York City, networking among urban churches and giving seminars for ministry and evangelism. Currently, he is involved in reconnecting with New York City pastors, along with home and overseas ministries. He serves as an elder in the leadership of Elim Fellowship.

He has published a book on Romans titled, “Free by Divine Decree.” Recently, it was translated into Mandarin. This book invites the reader into the courtroom to witness the case for our freedom, argued and decided. The verdict is in: condemnation is out!

He and his wife, Gloria, reside in Hampton, Virginia. They have two married children, four grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. They have been married and have ministered together for 59 years.

Johannson-nysumDr. Rev. Robert  & Jan Johansson 

Dr. Rev. Robert Johansson is Co-Founder and President of NYSUM.

Born and raised in NYC, Pastor Rob has spent the past 57 years in pastoral ministry. He was ordained by the Assemblies of God in 1959.

As Senior Pastor of Evangel Church in New York City for 48 years, he has served the City in many ways, cross-culturally and cross-denominationally. In 1989, Evangel Church moved to the Queens Plaza area, LIC. In June of 1999, Evangel dedicated its new $10 million facility, which included a new sanctuary, gymnasium, fellowship hall, church offices, and staff housing.

Presently, he serves in an advisory capacity to many churches, organizations, and leadership training throughout the Metropolitan Area. He has also ministered in Europe, East Africa, South America,India, and China.

Pastor Johansson is the founder of the largest Evangelical High School in NYC, Evangel Christian School, which presently has a enrollment of approximately 550 students that represent 73 countries.

At NYSUM, Pastor Johansson served as an Adjunct Professor for Nyack College and as an instructor in Urban Studies.

Pastor Johansson is a graduate of Elim Bible Institute and Roberts Wesleyan College. He earned a Masters Degree in Religious Education from New York University and was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Nyack Seminary.

He and his wife, Jan, counselor for Evangel Christian School for 17 years, live in Whitestone and have three married children and four grandchildren. His daughter, Carolyn Marko, is the Principal of Evangel Christian School. His son, Brian, serves as Vice President of the Bowery Mission in NYC. His son, Stephen, is Minister of Music at his church in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.


As the population of the world exploded in the 20th Century, cities were bursting at the seams with new immigrants. The American church, for the most part, tended to follow the “flight” to the suburbs. This left a remnant of strong believers holding the fort in the inner city. In 1985, there were 60 cities in the world exceeding five million in population, compared to only six cities of that size in 1950. In the last half of the century, many books, periodicals, conferences, and seminars called attention to this urban crisis.

While pastoring in New York City, Rev. Robert and Jan Johansson saw the desperate need for more labors to work alongside city churches and pastors. At that time, he had as many as 100 individuals in a disciple-making, serving community. In time, he was able to purchase an apartment building, though he knew it would not be big enough to accommodate the vision for more “student workers.” Another building seven blocks away from the church was found and bid on in 1977, but was lost when the offer Robert made was rejected. The need continued, but that specific building was not forgotten.

Three hundred miles away, Paul (Robert’s twin brother) had developed an internship program at Elim Bible Institute to send students to the major cities within a day’s drive. Many were sent to New York City, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Toronto, etc. In 1973, while taking an Ethiopian student to Manhattan, Paul became aware of a divine assignment to “start a school to train students in cultural and urban challenges.” this urban calling was the burden he and his wife Gloria carried since they established a church and Bible School in Nairobi, Kenya They moved from Elim by faith to New York City in 1984.

These two brothers came together, bringing two streams into one river, and gave impetus for the vision to become a reality. It was time now to begin organizing the New York School of Urban Ministry (NYSUM) concept. It was also at that time that Paul, Dean of students at Elim Bible institute, was invited by Pastor Jim Cymbala to start a Bible School at Brooklyn Tabernacle. All of these things were orchestrated by the Lord as the fulfillment of a seven-year prayer burden. A major confirmation of God’s timing became evident when the building in Astoria on 46th Street, which we tried to purchase in 1977, was again on the market in 1983. It had been vandalized and lost its certificate of occupancy, but to “eyes of faith” it was the fulfillment of his promise. After seven years of prayer, faith saw beyond the problems and recognized the possibilities! Immediately, Pastor Johansson handled the legal closing negotiations and several Mennonite families moved in to begin renovation.

When Paul and his wife Gloria moved to New York City in May 1984, they knew the challenge would be formidable. The underlying principle of NYSUM was to be a support and strength to the local churches and pastors in the city. With a clear “Word,” they launched into the purchase and renovation. Major financial gifts came from Evangel Church, Elim Bible institute, Elim Fellowship, World MAP, Campus Crusade and other individuals, plus a loan of $75,000 from the Mennonites. The NYSUM facility was dedicated by the late Bishop John Gimenez. of Rock Church, Virginia Beach in February 1984.

At the first board meeting, the officers appointed were Robert Johansson, Chairman, Paul Johansson, President, John Smucker, Secretary Treasurer and Carlton Spencer. This meeting and many others in those early days were spent seeking God’s purpose and provision.

The following year, the NYSUM leadership began offering practical urban courses to city pastors and their leaders. Some of the courses taught were: Pastoring the Urban Church, Urban Leadership, Christian Counseling, Time Management, Urban Evangelism, and Children and Youth Seminars. Today, many city pastors remember those classes as a “jump start” for their ministry. Soon afterward, Nyack College and Alliance Theological Seminary forged a partnership with NYSUM for urban teaching and training.

The underlying philosophy has always been, “the local church is God’s principle channel for world evangelization and discipleship.” The programs of NYSUM must strengthen and under-gird the local church and its efforts. In order to do this, the focus of NYSUM is:

  1. To bring Bible teaching to local churches at the NYSUM location.
  2. To make resources available to urban churches.
  3. To relate students to ethnic churches with cross–cultural involvement.
  4. To encourage student internships, which involve discipleship training and long-term mission commitment to the city.
  5. To provide missionary organizations and missionaries the opportunity to be trained in a cultural involvement, similar to the mission field they plan to serve.

From the beginning the school was staffed by “volunteers.” Under the leadership of Paul and Gloria Johansson (bookkeeper) was Judy Ebersole, serving as Ministry Administrator and Rosemary Esch, who directed Food Services with the capacity to serve one hundred. They were the seeds that later produced hundreds of skilled workers who joined us for short- and long-term commitments. To mention just a few they include Bill1troycr, Paul Johansson
Sr., Jim and Darla Snyder, Rick Hunter, Dan Mann, Bryan Keener, Joe Wehrer, Caroline Knox, Brian Johansson and Nancy DeArruda Emrich.

In 1987, a young couple, Rev. Peter and Darleen DeArruda, were led to move to New York City from an evangelistic ministry out of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. They came with servants hearts to minister at NYSUM in “however the Lord would lead.” They joined the staff and served in administration, evangelism outreaches, assisting in renovating the building and developing the vision. With many opportunities opened to NYSUM, they integrated quickly into assisting the leadership of the school.

Evangel Church provided a spiritual covering and support for both workers and over-all ministry. Gaining the trust of city pastors was crucial to our purpose. NYSUM was blessed to have gained acceptance into churches and denominations through the network Pastor Johansson had already established.

In accord with the stated purpose of NYSUM, all activities were designed to assist city churches. The compassion outreaches were focused on the homeless in the streets, alleys, and underground subways. NYSUM personnel were on a first name basis with many of the homeless, who looked forward to ministry teams visiting them. In the past twenty-five years, over 50,000 blankets (most donated by Operation Blessing and U.S. Defense Department) and toiletry packets have been given out. Thirty thousand church leaders, laymen and students have been involved at NYSUM in evangelism and ministry to the homeless. They quickly learned that a warm blanket on a cold frigid night and a kind word from a compassionate heart best expressed the love of Christ.

In NYSUM’s first brochure their philosophy was clearly stated – “Training city workers and assisting local churches to Claim the Cities for Christ.” Consistently, we have emphasized our purpose towards character development and practical methodology for ministering daily in the urban environment along with specific teaching concerning the city. This includes prayer, intercession, evangelism, spiritual warfare and devotional studies for personal growth and cultural awareness. Our statement of purpose today reads, “A training and resource center serving the urban church.”

The strong emphasis on evangelism necessitated purchasing a truck with an outdoor platform for preaching. We also purchased powerful sound systems and generators, which we made available to local churches when our students were assisting them in parks or street meetings. Teams, especially from Elim Bible Institute, became a great ministry resource for working with children and youth workers. In some instances, puppets and clowns became the order of the day. Occasionally, the pastor/student connection led to a student’s long-term city commitment.

It became evident through our compassionate ministry and prayer that the time had come to find a building to house hurting people. Peter DeArruda spotted a three-story brick building for sale in a rough area of Queens with the words
“cop killer” sprayed on the outside wall. We had been praying and saving funds, so in 1990 the building was purchased and designated as the New York Center for Urban Ministry. Peter led teams of volunteers to put in windows, install a roof and put in a large sidewalk. Mechanicsville Christian Center rose to the challenge and purchased and installed the new roof before winter. This was the beginning of making facilities available to needy women and a place for NYSUM teams to experience homeless ministry hands-on. In 1989, we expanded our vision and sold the building to Betel of America, which now continues the ministry to “forgotten people.”

It was a total surprise when in 1994 God directed Paul and Gloria to return to Elim to assume the Presidency. At that time he became the chairman of NYSUM, while Robert became the President and Peter the Executive Vice-President. We also added Rev. Cecil Henry as an official board member. With large groups coming to NYSUM, it became increasingly evident that larger facilities were needed. We began “watching and praying” for the next step.

God had an awesome plan! A block away from NYSUM was the seventy-thousand square foot, only partially-used Boulevard Hospital. Peter recalls that “I laid my hands on the building and prayed, ‘Lord, would you release this building for your Kingdom?” four months later, on the way to the office, Darleen saw the sign “for sale” on the building. That began a series of miracles that would culminate in

January 2, 1998 with the purchase of the hospital for three million dollars from Johnson & Johnson, a medical supplier. After further negotiations, they forgave six hundred and thirty one thousand dollars off the mortgage. We acknowledge the help of hundreds of financial contributors and the assistance of Rev. Charles Hackett, Director of National Home Missions of the Assemblies of God, as he helped facilitate the mortgage.

We took possession in early 1998, with the oversight of Pastor Johansson and the leadership of Peter and Darleen DeArruda. A massive renovation blitz began, which involved thousands of man hours from church groups across the U.S., as they quickly caught the vision. The Church of the Living God led by Gary
Moore, Elim Bible Institute led by Dale Stephens and Friends of the Cross led by Jeff Clark brought volunteer construction Teams to meet this tremendous challenge.

The first floor was leased to a medical group who sued us for five million dollars charging asbestos contamination. Again the Lord defended His work and the judge ruled on NYSUM’s behalf – we won the case! The hospital today is referred to as the NYSUM Headquarters to distinguish it from the first building, which serves as a Christian dorm residence for singles. The Headquarters now houses NYSUM’s offices, dining hall, classrooms and sleeping accommodations for 300 people. We continue to improve the accommodations with phases one, two, and three completed. The newest renovations include remodeling classrooms on the basement level of our campus as well as installing new carpet in the entire building.

More important than the visible buildings and the expanded facility, are the eternal changes in the hearts and lives of thousands of individuals who have been exposed to urban needs and been impacted by Divine compassion. Other similar ministries have been started using the NYSUM model in the U.S.A and other nations. The vision to lift up the hands of pastors and city leaders has held us on course, whether it be the giving of thousands of turkeys and dinners to pastors at Thanksgiving for their congregations or for Christmas gifts to children. We give thanks to Hampton Christian High School and Mechanicsville
Christian Center, Virginia for thousands of wrapped gifts distributed by them each Christmas since 1985.

Beyond the bricks and mortar are the hopeless and broken lives that have been rescued by evangelism and compassionate outreaches over the years. Over one hundred thousand people have been helped in one form or another. With this dedicated and sacrificial service over the past twenty-five years, we say with the
Apostle Paul, “We have laid the foundation …. Let every man take heed how he buildeth there on” I Cor. 3:10. NYSUM stands today as a beacon of hope, not calling attention to itself, but always pointing in word and deed to Christ and His Church – His Body – His Bride. NYSUM’S greatest days are still ahead!


urban course