Mixing Golf and the Gospel will Change Lives – Bob Wood

Author: David Davolt
Published on: July 1, 2021

We desire to have our lives reflect our commitment to Jesus in all we do. How well we reflect Jesus will often be unknown to us until eternity. At a recent gathering, a Boise Bible College alum was honored when a disciple of his described the unique way our alum showed intentionality and focus to turn a life around to become not just a believer in Jesus and a reflection of Jesus, but also one who disciples others to make disciples!

Golf, for some, becomes a passion, almost an obsession. The challenge of hitting that little white ball with accuracy and just the right distance can bring out the best and worst in people. Some find themselves using their skill to teach others how to hit the ball, living a charmed life as a golf course pro. One course pro told of his life of hanging around the clubhouse, teaching others how to play, handling the office needs of a golf course, and not always getting to play much. It was easy to waste away the time drinking beer and living to please the people around him.

One particular golfer would regularly come to play and often talked the course pro into playing with him. The guest never told him to drink less or stop swearing; he just befriended and kept playing with him. One day the two of them found themselves in a $300/person golf tournament. The pro actually didn’t have to pay but got to play because of who he was. Partway through the tournament, he was drinking heavily, was dealing with people on the phone, and was playing horribly. Finally, his friend couldn’t take it any longer, poured the pro’s beer out, and took the phone away, saying, “I spent $300 to play in this tournament; quit screwing it up!” That blunt reaction startled the pro and made him reflect on life and his friend. This event led to a changed life.

One year later, the pro came to see Jesus as his Lord and Savior. His life change was so drastic and genuine that he started telling others about his experience and the Jesus he had come to know. He met a Christian woman, and they married, combining a total of 7 kids, including 5 teenagers, into one household. Soon he was helping in a local church with youth and saw the numbers grow and the commitments to Jesus skyrocket. Then, he started taking online Bible classes, moved to another city, and worked as an associate minister, where he saw people coming to Jesus. Shortly he was called upon to be the pastor at a church that needed reviving. Today he is seeing God work through his efforts as the church grows. All of this because a Boise Bible College graduate who enjoys the game of golf – but is even more passionate about Jesus – took the time to befriend a lost man and patiently nurtured him to become a disciple-making disciple of Jesus.

Bob Wood was born in Salem, Oregon, to loving, Godly Christian parents. His dad, Howard, was a very strong Christian leader and elder who was not swayed by traditions but lived by the Word of God. His mother, Ruth, was and still is a brilliant woman gifted in teaching, mentoring, and discipleship. As a native Oregonian with a strong Christian foundation, Bob’s passion for those who don’t know Jesus, especially those in Oregon, has grown over the years.

Like many growing up in the Vietnam era, Bob assumed he would be drafted, but the military draft ended 16 days before his 18th birthday. Not being drafted and previously turning down a couple of college music scholarships, Bob opened a book and comic bookstore that he named Paperback Palace in Medford, Oregon, where he had been raised. Though the bookstore provided a good income, it wasn’t satisfying. Early in the summer of 1974, Bob’s cousin, Jim Putman, invited him to go backpacking, and on that trip, Jim asked him if he would like to go that next year to Boise Bible College with him. To which Bob responded, “There’s a Bible College in Boise?” Bob agreed if he could sell the bookstore, he would join him in the fall. The bookstore sold, and off they went to Boise. This was a big adventure for someone who had never gone much further East than Klamath Falls, Oregon. This was a major step out of a west coast boy’s comfort zone.

Their first stop before arriving in Boise was in Payette, Idaho, where Jim’s brother and Bob’s older cousin, Bill Putman, were preaching. It was late, and they stopped in at the church’s parsonage to have a Coke before making the last hour drive to Boise Bible. While they were there, their high school youth sponsor, Juanita Frazier, stopped in to visit with Bill. With her was a young short-haired athletic-looking high school girl wearing bib overalls and a tube top. Her name was Sheri Hintz, and Bob recalls thinking, “This Idaho might not be all that bad.” Bob and Sheri became the best of friends, but it was another four years before that friendship moved into something more.

Bob’s first year at Boise Bible College, 1974, was the same year that Dick Ewing began as president. His freshman year, in his own words, “…was a total goof-off year.” He had committed to one year and had no intention of going a second year. The bookstore’s sale gave him enough funds to not work and to “enjoy” the year. The deal on the bookstore fell through, and he was confident his college years would be behind him. However, he received a phone call from a local shoe store owner in Medford who said, if you will come and sell shoes for me for one summer, you will never go without work, and you will be able to go back to Bible college. This gracious, Godly man was correct. When Bob returned to BBC for his second year, he had job offers at local shoe stores, which allowed him to pay for school and be debt-free.

Bob will be the first to admit that there were few people more immature than he was when he went to Boise Bible College, but with the help of his friends and cousins, Jim and Bill Putman, he moved forward in God’s calling on his life (even though his insecurities would haunt him for the rest of his life). Bob is quick to let everyone know that if it wasn’t for Sheri in his life and her Godly call, he would probably still be selling shoes and pretending to be a wannabe musician.

A few of the many highlights while at BBC were Kenny Beckman’s Ancient History class and the discipleship of Lee Magness. Bob loved learning Greek from Lee and participating in the musical dramas Lee had written and directed. Mr. Magness also encouraged creativity, such as Bob being able to write a musical drama for a term paper. Bob traveled with the college music and drama groups and has memories of flying with President Ewing on weekends, where he would sing, and the President preached. In addition, he had a short youth ministry at Ontario First Christian Church. Bob also remembers his senior exit interview where the staff and administration encouraged him to not go into the ministry.

Bob and Sheri married in December 1977. They moved to Weiser so that he could work as the youth minister at Weiser Christian Church and took some time off college to adjust to marriage. When he was hired as youth minister at Emmett Christian Church, he made a deal with them that they would allow him to finish his education at BBC while working. He graduated in 1982 with a BA. Sheri also attended, and their daughters Natalie earned an AS in 2003, and Emily earned an AS in 2005. Bob’s father, Howard Wood, also graduated in 1984.​​

Life After Boise Bible College

​Bob landed in Grangeville, Idaho, in 1982 as the preacher at the Christian Church. This was his first preaching position, and he learned much in the process. The church grew, and they stayed for seven years, the longest time a minister had lasted since the church was planted by folks from Oakland Church of Christ in 1901. During their time in Grangeville, Bob completed a Master’s degree at Pacific Christian College. He remembers the mentorship of Bill Putman, who talked to him regularly, and a thoughtful note sent to him at a critical point in time by Chuck Wigton (Chuck was then the minister at Sandpoint, Idaho, and later was Boise Bible Student Dean for a while). At Emmett, he had mentored Kevin Hill, and when Kevin graduated from Boise Bible College, he was hired to be the youth minister at Grangeville.

Bob and Sheri were called to Grants Pass to serve at Redwood Christian Church. They watched the church grow as he invested time with young men and encouraged several to attend Boise Bible College. They were there for 15 years when they were challenged to consider Church Planting to serve as the Director of OCEF – Oregon Christian Evangelistic Fellowship.  For some time, Bob kept saying no. In 2004, they finally felt God’s nudging and agreed to lead the OCEF. Today, Bob is working once again with Kevin Hill, who serves as a pastor in Sweet Home, Oregon, and is the Chairman of the OCEF.

Bob’s entrepreneurial spirit and ministerial experience have made him an ideal leader for the OCEF. Sheri leads the administration for OCEF. Her experience in banking administration, children’s ministry, and as a church administrator has prepared her well. She also leads Financial Planning Ministry seminars, helping individuals plan their estates. She is currently serving as the Chair of the Board of trustees for Turner Retirement Home. Bob is known for his strong doctrinal stand and for nurturing struggling churches back to health. Together they make a great team, the OCEF, and each holds their own on the golf course too.

For more than forty years serving in ministry, Bob and Sheri have led hundreds of people to Christ and encouraged dozens of people to vocational ministry. Bob has said that it may be because of his own insecurities that he believed, “If I could do this, anyone could.”

His ministry has been defined by his passion for the success of the Gospel and mission of Christ and his desire to encourage (infuse with courage) and protect the next generation of pastors and Christian leaders. With this passion for the success of the mission of Christ, Bob and Sheri have used their hobbies and other interests to get into people’s lives with the hope that the Holy Spirit would work in their lives. Bob has always said that he can only afford one vice at a time. Whether it was volleyball, softball, raising and breaking horses, hunting and fishing, or golf, during the various times of their marriage, they used their interests to impact others for Jesus.

Bob recalls that with each ministry change or transition, God made it very clear it was time to leave but never told them where they were going. Each call became very clear in its own time. Two years into their ministry with the OCEF, it became very clear to them why God had called them to this ministry. As Bob would say, “We cannot plant churches fast enough to keep up with the number of Christian churches which are closing each year.” From this conviction, the OCEF Partnership Ministry was birthed. In addition to overseeing the planting of several churches in Oregon, Bob has worked with the elders or leadership teams in struggling churches, some wanting to close, and other churches needing to make critical changes to survive to revitalize them into some of the most exciting and evangelistic churches in Oregon. In these “Partnership” churches which have been helped in the last 15 years, there have been over 1,000 baptisms. Along with this powerful resurgence and rescuing of churches, many pastors have been put into or been rescued to continue in the ministry. Each of the Partnership churches has dedicated themselves to helping the OCEF (i.e., the other Christian Churches in Oregon) plant new Christian Churches in Oregon and beyond and help rescue and strengthen other sister congregations.

Bob has proved that the values Boise Bible College holds to are vital ingredients to a successful ministry. He has always been innovative in his approach to ministry and relationship building. He values community and loves the Church. He has learned to serve others in humility as a servant leader. He is a champion for Biblical scholarship and teaches well, a Biblical Worldview based upon the truth of the Word of God – the Bible.

Bob has found a way to use the “vices” (and hobbies) of life – golf, sometimes – to bring the Gospel to those in need. He is passionate about starting new churches and strengthening established, existing churches to make disciples who will make disciples and mother new churches, which in turn will plant other churches.

Bob and Sheri are a team, and one of their greatest joys is seeing those they have brought to Christ bring others to Christ and to witness them leading at the local church level for the glory of God. Bob and Sheri have two daughters, two sons-in-law, four grandsons, and one granddaughter! You can find Bob encouraging a local church and leaders, spending time with his grandkids, or looking for a golf pro to share Jesus with!

When asked how Bob would like to be remembered, he said, “I don’t! I would rather they remember those who followed me and did much greater things for Jesus than I ever dreamed possible. May Jesus be the one glorified!”