That’s Fred Wood’s motto.
As an alumnus of Boise Bible College, Fred Wood lives to serve well, love fiercely, and represent Jesus wherever he goes, even when things don’t go like he thought they would.
Fred and his wife both closed their businesses and moved their five kids from Grants Pass, OR to Boise. He was going to attend a new thing he’d just heard of – a Bible college! Kevin Bates (BS’01) and the leadership of Redwood Christian Church had said he should. Fred and his wife prayed, talked, and agreed. They left Grants Pass with an acceptance letter, Jesus, $600.00, and no place to live.
Learning came hard for Fred, who hadn’t seen the inside of a classroom in 20 years. By his sophomore year, he was given a 15% chance of graduating. He and Academic Dean, Chuck Faber, whom he sees as a formative influence, talked about this during his senior exit interview, where Fred coined the phrase, “15% and Jesus are all I need to succeed.”
Fred isn’t the kind of guy who will learn something just because someone says to. He needs to know why, and what difference it will make. This actually led to a lot of angst his senior year, as he saw that he was a bit different from many others – fiercely practical in his approach.
He vented to Professor Rich Schell (BS’86), who listened and asked questions, then told him, “Fred, you’re an applied theologian; it doesn’t make sense unless you can put it into practice.” Fred says that observation, along with Rich’s undying belief in him all through college, was a lynchpin of his decision to press on to graduate in 2012 with a BS in Preaching Ministry.
Chuck McCoy was another professor who helped Fred build the bridge from theology to practice. Fred was always amazed at how deep Chuck could take him into theology while still helping him to see why it mattered. Today, Fred strives to achieve Chuck’s teaching style.
While school was generally very tough and marked by repeated failure, frustration, and trying again, not everything was hard for Fred. He came with a God-given natural speaking ability and, if allowed, would have used it as a crutch. Professor John Whittaker (BA’92) worked with him in the areas of humility and scholarship, and wouldn’t allow his “gift” to be a crutch. John kept pushing him to say the right things, connect on a spiritual level, and research well.
As a result, Fred left BBC knowing how to dig deep, speak clearly, love hard, and serve well. Today, he is deeply grateful to John for this, and his congregation benefits from it.
Life after Boise Bible College
He also left with some very good friends, the kind “I can’t even call friends because it sounds weird – they’re family.” Cory (BS’14) and Kristen (BS’10) DeForrest, Amanda Knighten (AS’08), and Ryan Grove (BS’12) are a few he has “done time with and keep in contact with.”
Fred was interested in one degree – preaching. He had no interest in youth or seniors ministry. Fortunately, he has a sense of humor, or recognizes that God does, since his first two ministries were as a hospice chaplain and a youth pastor. But even in those ministries, he did what he was called to do: serve well, love fiercely, and represent Jesus wherever he was. This, along with his Bible college training, would come to serve him and his church and community later on.
Near the end of a nine-month internship under Kevin Hill (BA’87) at Holley Christian Church in Sweet Home, OR, Fred sent out hundreds of resumes to churches looking for a preaching minister. One day, a church in Oroville, CA called. Fred says it best, “First off, I didn’t know where that was, and second, California? Does God even know me?” But he drove down for the interview.
It didn’t take him long to realize this church had about as much chance of making it as he had had in college. He admits he was abrupt and tried hard to talk them out of hiring him. In the end, he said, “If I come, everything changes. Everything.” To his surprise, they agreed!
In February 2017, he became the preaching minister. He and the church, who had said in no uncertain terms they didn’t want to die, set out to do just that – change. The first year saw major changes, including a name change to Pursuit Christian Church. The church started taking on a new look and a new life. Every book he’d ever read said this shouldn’t happen. But, “Here we are,” he says.
Little did Fred know that righting the ship was just one of the huge tasks in front of him. He’d been known to say he wanted to “be on the hairy edge of swinging across the gates of Hell on a barbed-wire chain of hope and rescue souls from the brink of destruction.”
His chances to do that would come faster than he ever thought.
- In February 2017, heavy rains filled up the reservoir behind Oroville Dam to overflowing, damaging it. Fred’s first day on the job found the whole town being evacuated, as the dam threatened to break.
- In his first three months, he would perform five funerals.
- Five months in, the Wall Fire burned most of Oroville’s perimeter and forced evacuations.
- A month later, the Ponderosa Fire burned 32 more homes, taking out the eastern edge of town.
- Six months later, the Carr Fire burned portions of nearby Redding and surrounding areas.
- Then, California’s most destructive fire in history, the Camp Fire, destroyed nearby Paradise, causing indescribable human suffering, tragedy, and fear. Many of Fred’s church members or their friends or family lived in Paradise.
- A year later, northern California would have one to two-week rolling power blackouts in an effort to keep more fires from starting.
- And now, the Coronavirus has hit.
Nearly three years straight of major disasters. Fred says,
Fred sees people stepping up to serve and sees the church uniting other churches of the community, pooling resources, covering each other’s backs, reminding every Christian and non-believer that “Church is a Team Sport” (with a nod of appreciation for Jim Putman’s book and Real Life Ministries). “The only way through all this mess of a world we live in is together,” says Fred.
To Fred, “communitas” (community) isn’t just a fun Latin word taught by professor Danny Harrod (BA’79). It’s a Boise Bible College value, and it’s “how the church survives the tough stuff, it’s how we live in true love, it’s the example of how much our Creator loves us.”
Fred believes that every Boise Bible College graduate is called to innovate, adjust, adapt, and think out of the box. We have to do that to serve well, love fiercely, and represent Jesus wherever we are. Looking at Fred’s story, these are good words to live by.