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Haley Johnson Blazes a Trail for the Lord

By Kiesa Kay

Yancey CountyKiesa Kay


If life is measured in love, then Haley Johnson truly lives forever, not only through the love others feel for her, but for the love she gave, and the way she led so many people to the love of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. By the tender age of 29, this mother of one already had spoken to hundreds of people, sharing her testimony of troubles and triumphs. She listened, cared, and shared the Gospel.

Like her brother, Luke Johnson said, “Haley was a beautiful soul lost too soon.”

In the last year of her life, Haley initiated the idea of a nature trail on the grounds of the church where she grew up, South Estatoe Baptist Church in Burnsville, NC. The trail would be a place of peace, where people could walk in natural beauty and reflect on God’s gifts to the earth. The church has decided to create that trail and dedicate it in her honor.

“Haley wanted to start the community outreach walking track for others to be able to get healthy, spiritually, mentally, and physically, and to be together to support one another,” said her parents, Robin and Barry Johnson.

Haley Johnson blazes a trail for the Lord

Haley Johnson

Through her personal outreach ministry geared toward women in recovery, Haley inspired true and lasting change. She spoke not only to church groups and at nonprofit gatherings, but also in intimate one-on-one conversations that shook people to the core, helping them to feel heard and understood sometimes for the very first time. She helped others to believe in themselves and to find community.

At her funeral, the Rev. Ben Cole helped the mourners find laughter through tears, as he shared anecdotes showing Haley’s joy in life.  She saw that he wanted to preach, and she helped him reach that goal. She had the gift of seeing the goodness in others, strengthening and believing in them.

Shelley Streett Laws said, “Haley’s life challenges us to give more time, give more attention, give more laughter, give more encouragement give more hope, and give Jesus to all God puts in our path. We may never know the difference we make. I’m sure Haley had no idea how far the ripples of her love went.”

Some of those ripples will continue with the creation of Haley’s Trail. Contributions for the trail can be made to South Estatoe Baptist Church, 32 South Estatoe Baptist Church Road, Burnsville, NC 28714.


Kiesa Kay, poet, and playwright, is featured on the literary maps of both Kansas and North Carolina. Her plays have been produced in five states.


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