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Waldo Woodcock loves people, but loves Jesus most of all

 

Judy Rogers

Waldo Woodcock and his wife of 62 years, Sarah, first met on a blind date while attending separate schools in college. Waldo has served Georgia Baptists in numerous roles over the years, including as a pastor and 28-year stint as GBC state missionary in Discipleship Training.

CONYERS — He has been called the “Honey Man” because he has given out multiple jars of honey to friends and acquaintances across the state of Georgia.

He has sometimes been called “The Squirrel Man,” because he has the ability to lip sync Ray Steven’s song “The Mississippi Squirrel Revival” to entertain groups all over the state and beyond.

Waldo Woodcock is one of Georgia Baptists’ treasures and after being retired for almost two decades is still serving Christ with strength of body and keenness of mind.

Woodcock was born in Bulloch County on Jan. 2, 1929. With a wiry smile he explained, “I was born about three miles from Portal and near Hope U Lik It.” He was the only child of Martin and Marie Woodcock.

 

How it all began

His dad was the managing foreman for a turpentine business and Waldo grew up working for his dad in that business until World War II, when the family moved to Savannah, where Martin became a crane operator for the construction of Liberty Ships.

As a student Woodcock graduated from Savannah High School, continued his education at Armstrong Junior College, and then went to Mercer University where he majored in English and psychology. He completed his formal education by graduating from Southeastern Seminary in 1955.

As a child the Bulloch County native didn’t go to church very often. He exclaimed, “I went to church with my grandmother occasionally, because she would let me ride to church with her in a horse-drawn buggy.

When Woodcock was 15 years old a friend, Charles Ziegler, invited him to play on the church basketball team. Zeigler stated, “Waldo, I must tell you that we have a rule for those who play on our basketball team. The rule is that if you play on our team you must come to our Sunday School class.”

“Mrs. Russell was my teacher,” Woodcock stated, “and she told me that Jesus loved me and that He died for me, and that I could live forever by trusting Him. That is how it all began.”

Woodcock testified, “Because of the strong preaching of Dr. Searcy Garrison, who was the pastor of Bull Street Baptist Church in Savannah, and the members of the church who modeled the character of Christ I made a profession of faith on Mother’s Day night of 1944 and was baptized by Garrison.

“Bull Street Baptist Church was a citadel of influence in those days under Dr. Garrison’s leadership,” Woodcock recalled. “Dr. and Mrs. Garrison took an interest in the youth of the church and took us to various places to minister – places like nursing homes.

“In those days the adults of the church prayed for the youth. Ike Fogle was one of those men. One day he told me, ‘I am praying that you will know God better and find out His will for you life.’”

“Evangelism includes making disciples – Christ followers – and until we get that definition into the framework of how we do business we will continue to decline.”

Waldo Woodcock

During his second year at Armstrong God called Woodcock to preach the Gospel. He explained, “I was a lifeguard at Savannah Beach and had an experience there that God used to call me into the ministry.

“One day there was a little handicapped girl at the beach. I called her ‘Little Ann.’ She was unable to do anything for herself, so I picked her up to put her in the edge of the water. At that time God spoke to my heart and said, ‘This is what you need to do – help others, serve others.’ I interpreted that as a call to serve God as a minister.”

During his student days at Mercer, Woodcock met Sarah Ivey, who was a student at Bessie Tift College in Forsythe. One of the students at Tift, Betty Chambliss, invited five Mercer men to come to the Forsythe school to go on blind dates with five of the women from Tift.

Woodcock was paired up with Sarah. That blind date was the beginning of a relationship that extended into a marriage that has been marked by 62 wedding anniversaries to date. They never had children, but have embraced the young and old, the rich and poor, the advantaged and disadvantaged wherever they have served.

 

Heavily invested

Through the years Waldo Woodcock has had an extensive ministry and made a profound impact for Christ in Georgia. From part-time pastorates near Dawson and Millen while a student at Mercer to a 28-year tenure as a Georgia state missionary Waldo Woodcock has been heavily invested in the work of Christ’s kingdom.

Woodcock provided leadership in the Discipleship Training ministry of the GBC. At one time that department had responsibilities and oversight in the following areas: prayer ministry, church administration, church secretary development, church recreation, drama, deacon’s ministry, summer missions, B.S.U. (now Baptist Collegiate Ministry), youth ministry, family ministry, vocational guidance, new member training, and a host of other ministries.

However, at age 85 Woodcock continues to serve Christ by serving others. He continues to emphasize the need for leadership and discipleship training. He explained, “Evangelism must be more than getting someone to pray a prayer for salvation. Evangelism includes making disciples – Christ followers – and until we get that definition into the framework of how we do business we will continue to decline.

“I think we are studying the Bible more than we ever have and authors are turning out more and more Bible study material, but we are not doing what God says. If we learn more, but fail to do what we learn to do we are just heaping judgment upon ourselves.”

Woodcock now has a passion to get Georgia Baptists and Southern Baptists to pray. He stated, “I don’t have much of a platform for ministry now, but I am hoping to find a way to develop a flea market ministry and am especially interested in getting grassroots Baptist people to praying for revival.”

GBC state missionary John Bryan refers to Woodcock as a “prayer giant” and has asked him to be Mission Georgia’s “Ambassador of Prayer.”

Recently, the Retired Ministers’ Association honored Woodcock with a special tribute to his life and ministry at the Baptist Mission and Ministry Center. Cecil Clegg presided at the meeting and referred to the honoree “as a man who has honored Christ with his life and ministry by going the second mile in serving others.”

Sarah described her husband as “unselfish, more than kind, and loving.” Then she added, “There was a little girl who was saved in one of Waldo’s revival meetings who said, ‘I love everybody, but I love Jesus most of all.’ That statement typifies my husband’s life.”