More times than not, that's all it takes to begin the process. That, and a tissue.
"You can see that some of them are on the brink," he said.
Mr. Johnson saw plenty of first responders and victims on the brink — or even over it — during his most recent work as a chaplain.
Mr. Johnson was called to the Paradise Camp Fire, the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history.
The blaze began on Nov. 8. By the time it was contained on Nov. 25, it had killed 86 civilians, injured 12 others and five firefighters, burning more than 150,000 acres in Northern California while leveling the town of Paradise, Calif.
As of early December, the fire incinerated or badly damaged more than 19,000 structures, including homes and businesses, causing an estimated $7.5 billion to $10 billion in damage.
"This was one of the worst (disasters) I have been at," Mr. Johnson said.
Here's how he describes the scene: "I have never been to a wildfire that had destroyed as much and as many buildings. ... The weirdest thing for me was to drive down the main street in Paradise and see a store that you literally see ash on top of a foundation, or maybe part of a wall or a cinder brick wall, and next to it, see those big signs — those nylon or plastic banners — floating in the wind. I'm sure they got hot, but it didn't look like it got damaged."
He called the scene capricious.
"That's the best word I can think of, as (the fire) would take some buildings and not others. It was a very fast-moving fire, and you would see trees that were still standing. ... Driving through downtown (Paradise), everything you see is gray or black."
He spotted a deer that was completely black. "I'm not sure if it had fallen in ash," he said. "It looked like a concrete deer in the yard that was painted black. I didn't know if it was alive until it moved its head a little."
Mr. Johnson led two groups there, one for the Southern Baptist Relief and the other for the first responders. His original task, he said, was to help repopulate Paradise and the surrounding towns.
The rain severely delayed that.
"It was a wonderful rain when I was there," he said. "It put the fire out, but it also washed away a lot of the ash material that (contained the remains of) some of the dead."
The former Sears store in Chico, Calif., he said, resembled the day after Christmas. Booths were bustling with activity, so victims could apply for passports, birth certificates, driver's licenses, small-business grants, etc.
He did what he does best: Spend time with first responders, police and victims.
Some of the locals, he said, took out their frustrations on utility workers who were called to the area. "I spent a lot of time with those folks," Mr. Johnson said. "They were busting their heinies to get their job done, and they were taking the brunt of it from a few folks."
He is friends with three pastors in the area whose churches miraculously survived the devastation.
"The fire came right up to their property edge and stopped. It was almost like goose-bumpy stuff," he said.
Two of three pastors lost their homes, but, he said, it was far more important for their churches to survive. "That's where they're going to be taking care of the community needs."
He told another story of a church that kept 30 people safe who were unable to escape the city. "I can't imagine going through that," he said.
A native of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Mr. Johnson began his journey to becoming a chaplain after he started a church in a small Oregon town in 2006, shortly after moving to the Pacific Northwest. It was there that he became friends with a deputy who later was dispatched to an accident in which a little girl was hit by a car and severely injured.
The tragedy traumatized the deputy, whose daughter resembled the injured girl. As he tried to help his friend, Mr. Johnson became inspired to help others. "The Lord just kind of bends my heart in that direction," he said.
He soon began hundreds of hours of training that continue today.
In the seven years since he officially became a chaplain, Mr. Johnson has been called to respond to several traumatic incidents, including:
The Taylor Bridge fire in Cle Elum, Wash., that destroyed 61 homes and blackened 36 square miles in 2012;
The Oso, Wash., mudslide that buried 49 homes and other structures in 2014, killing 43;
A shooting in 2014 at nearby Reynolds High School in Troutdale, Ore., where one student was killed;
The Okanogan Complex Fire in north-central Washington, which burned more than 304,000 acres in 2015 and claimed the lives of three firefighters; and
The Eagle Creek fire in Oregon in 2017 that burned 50,000 acres in the Columbia River Gorge.
When Mr. Johnson was called to the Taylor Bridge fire, he wasn't sure he had enough paid time off (PTO) remaining. Word got to Mr. Lybeck, then the company's chief financial officer.
Soon Mr. Lybeck, who himself had done charitable work in Mexico years earlier, created a policy whereby employees may donate their PTO to co-workers who respond to major disasters.
"It was highly impactful and emotional for me," Mr. Lybeck said of his time in Mexico. "It changed me. … I heard Kenton needed help, and we needed a policy to make that happen."
Mr. Johnson said he saves PTO time in order to respond to disasters, especially for hurricane season.
"I try to be careful," he said. "... But I know Point S has my back. If I am short, it's good either way. That means I can go (to disasters) with confidence that my company is going to take care of me. I can't tell you what that means to me."
Today, Mr. Johnson mentors others who are interested in becoming chaplains. And here's his secret:
"It's kind of like what I do here at Point S: You've got to read people," he said. "... You've got to know what makes a person tick. A lot of the skills are life skills. You don't treat everybody the same way."