Mike Cope's blog

Thursday, February 26, 2004

I leaned to Eddie Sharp and said, "Right now I feel 20 years old." It was Tuesday afternoon at ACU lectureship, and Jim Woodroof and Terry Smith were speaking. It transported me back 25 years. Jim was the preacher at the College Church in Searcy (where I later preached for seven years) when Diane and I were students at Harding. Terry was the campus minister -- the one who did our premarital counseling. Isn't it amazing -- the power of familiar voices to sweep you away into a different era? They both sounded the same! Jim still sounded sincere, open and kind; Terry still sounded intense and God-hungry. Some Jim Woodroof memories: I still remember his smile and a slight nod of his head as he led us--again and again--through the life of Jesus. He said a couple times, "I so want to be with Jesus that I believe I'd go into the depths of hell if it meant being with him." When he preached, you had the feeling you were on a journey with him. Often he would stop right in the middle of preaching a text, wrinkle his brow, and admit (yes, ADMIT!) that he'd just thought of something that hadn't hit him before. I remember a debate at Harding lectureship about what songs our churches ought to be using. Someone who wasn't from campus was making his case for a certain kind of song, and then he was unkindly bludgeoned by an "expert" from campus who claimed the other man's preferences weren't worship but entertainment. It was a public whipping, administered with an angry face. Afterward, I watched Jim walk out with tears streaming down his face. He didn't say anything. He didn't have to. I remember leading a prayer at the College Church as a junior. Afterward Jim got up to preach and said a kind word about the prayer "the young man led." Isn't that crazy? He probably said just a sentence or two, but 27 years later I remember his affirmation. (He never knew my name, but I understood then and I understand even more now! Caring deeply about people doesn't always mean you can recall their names.) I can still remember Jim preaching through John and 2 Corinthians. I remember a message called "Now, Therefore" in which he urged us to respond to all the blessings we had received. Just hearing his voice Tuesday afternoon made me want to be a more eager, humble reader of scripture. As a preacher, I have followed two of my heroes: Jim Woodroof (with someone briefly in between us) and Lynn Anderson. In both cases, the closer I got to their tracks, the more authentic their ministries were.

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