“This led to Landen having a compromised immune system and the only way to try to fix that would be to have a bone marrow transplant,” Luke Johnson, Landen’s father, said. “He went into the hospital in May 2017 to have his transplant. After that, some complications began to happen. He fought for two and a half years, but his body had enough, and his organs failed him. He passed away on September 13 of last year. He was nine years old.”
Having a rare condition was not the only thing unique about Landen. He had the ability to light up any room he was in. He was very outgoing and before the transplant, he travelled around at a high rate of speed, sometimes on all fours.
“He had so much energy,” Johnson said. “When he was five years old, he told me that he wanted to be saved so he’d know he’d go to Heaven. From then on, he told everybody about his faith and his relationship with the Lord.”
On the day of Landen’s funeral, his page had over a million hits on it. He was followed by people in nine different countries.
“I had a senior citizen reach out to me and tell me that they never knew how to pray until they started following Landen and he inspired them in their prayer life,” Johnson said. “Someone from a little island in the Mediterranean called Crete sent me a message letting me know how inspiring Landen was. We had a nurse who took care of Landen for about two weeks before he passed send me a message about the hope that she has now. Her faith was struggling at the time. The stories and go on and on.”
Johnson is the pastor at Highland Drive Free Will Baptist Church in Lincolnton, but he’s relatively new to being a pastor.
“When you go through trying circumstances in life, it puts in perspective what the important things are,” he said. “I’ve been a believer since I was 17 years old and experienced life changes only found in the gospel. I grew up in ministry because my dad was a pastor and I think I initially ran from that. We have a whole new understanding of the grace of God and the strength he provides. None of us will ever know the pain Landen went through every day because he never complained.”
Landen always told his father that he wanted to be a preacher.
“I think he preached a lot more sermons than I’ll ever be able to preach in my life because of the influence he had,” Johnson said. “People tell us that they’re so sorry for our loss, but if you lose something, you don’t know where it’s at. I know exactly where Landen’s at – he’s with the Lord. I didn’t tell Landen goodbye, I told him I’d see you later because I knew we’d be together again.”
Johnson is in the process of forming the “Landen Story Foundation” to follow through with Landen’s practice of giving and doing for people.
“We want to do what we can to help the families that are going through what we went through,” he said. “When your child passes away, there’s not a left after that. We want to do all we can to help those families who are enduring that tragedy as well as those who have children dealing with a rare condition.”
Keep watch on Landen’s Facebook page for specifics on the foundation which should be set up to begin helping families by the beginning of the year. To donate, checks made out to the Landen’s Story Foundation can be sent to P.O. Box 1733, Lincolnton, N.C. 28093. An online donation link will be posted to the Landen’s Story Facebook page at a later date. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.