Joey Woods wasn’t sure if the Lord wanted him to be the pastor of the church where he was baptized as a child.
He took his family to Union Baptist Church in Henry County, Kentucky, and they walked around the outside of the church praying together. They wanted to pray inside the building and Woods said he remembered a “basement door that was faulty. I was able to squeeze my youngest daughter in and she unlocked the door.”
The family went into the church sanctuary and prayed some more about whether or not Woods should become the bivocational pastor at the church. That prayer time gave him the comfort he was searching for over the decision.
“The church I was at was booming,” he said. “I didn’t have a good reason to leave.”
Woods said he left Union Baptist Church earlier in his life after a disagreement and began attending another church in the county where he had become an associate pastor — and then COVID hit.
“We stopped having services,” he said. “My wife and I had COVID. I was doing virtual services and Wednesday night Bible studies. A deacon from Union called and asked if I would come and preach a few Sundays because their pastor had retired.”
Praying for direction
Woods told him once he and his wife were cleared from quarantine he would preach for a few Sundays. He did and they asked him to come again, and then again, and then he was told the church wanted him to be their pastor.
“I prayed about it and kind of shelved it,” he said. “I wanted to see how things would work out.”
The church was down to a handful of people, he said. “Maybe 20 on Sunday morning. I knew most of those people there although I hadn’t seen many of them in several years. They said, ‘You preach from the Bible. That’s what we need.’ So I prayed some more (about becoming pastor).”
But the night of the “break in” gave him the peace he needed. He would accept the call to be the church’s pastor. Woods is also a deputy warden at the Pee Wee Valley Correctional Facility. “That’s my other full-time job,” he said.
The first Sunday in November marked his one-year anniversary at Union. The church held an Advent series leading up to the Christmas season last year that was well received and in March he started a Wednesday kids program that has grown to 20. Meanwhile, he teaches the adults in a Bible study on Wednesdays.
“I knew if you do things for kids, the parents will follow,” he said. “I knew we needed to do these things if we were going to grow.”
They had a Vacation Bible School this summer and five kids received salvation and “that started the baptizing,” Woods said. “I baptized someone every Sunday in September.”
The church has baptized 15 for the year and average nearly 60 on Sunday mornings now.
His oldest of three daughters, who is 16, leads the children’s church on Sunday mornings. “She said, ‘Dad, I hear you all week. I can do this for the kids on Sunday mornings.’’’
As for that faulty basement door at the church?
“Yeah,” he said, “that’s been replaced.”