Knoxville — "The Lord just led us here," says Wayne Wood, one of the new pastors at Knoxville's First Assembly of God Church.
Wayne, and his wife, Jackie, come to Knoxville from Des Moines, where they have been the past two years. They moved to Iowa from south Florida, where they worked with at-risk youth, to help Jackie's parents.
Jackie is no stranger to the area, Wayne says. She grew up in Des Moines and spent her summers in the Centerville area. Wayne has heard stories of how Jackie and her friends used to recreate in the Red Rock area, before the dam was built.
Wayne himself is a Florida native. Born in Bakersfield, Calif., while on a family trip, Wayne was raised in the Sunshine State. He worked in construction, as a commercial fisherman and a logger in Florida. Those industries do not exist in south Florida anymore, he said.
A man with faith all of his life, Wayne said he was led to turn everything over to God when he broke his neck. He was dying, and told by neurologists that he would never recover. With that medical advice, and the injury to his spinal cord, Wayne said he decided to "get right with God" and just the opposite happened.
"God chose to heal me instead of taking me home," Wayne said. He added that the doctors who told him recovery was impossible "didn't know our God."
Wayne dedicated his life to the Lord. He believes God is power, and the Lord will lead people to where the Lord wants them to be.
God led Jackie, who was still living in Des Moines when they met, to Wayne while she was on a trip to Florida. Together, they have six children and eight grandchildren.
While serving in Florida at a non-denominational church, the institution became credentialed with First Assemblies. When they moved to Des Moines, they were encouraged by a Des Moines minister to look into the open position at the Knoxville church. They also ran into Kerry Van Campen, another minister who was actually working at the same Florida church they were, just at a different time.
"He's actually the one that recommended us for this position," Wayne said. The fact that the ran into a "neighbor" in such a way, reaffirmed Wayne's belief that God has a plan.
"The Lord, he has plans for us to prosper in ways we can't see," Wayne said. He and Jackie went for a ride around Knoxville and were impressed. The friendliness and hospitality of Knoxville were only a part of the overall positive impression he got from the town.
"I love it. I love the slower pace," Wayne said. "What's not to love? You've got a race track and a fishing hole."
Wayne mentioned he is also a former stock car driver. Temptation hit him to get back into the business, after he took a look at the Knoxville Raceway.
At the pulpit, Wayne says he likes to "mix up" his preaching style. Some sermons will be expository and topical. He occasionally gets charismatic, but says he is not the kind of minister who will "jump over the pews." Regardless of the way he presents his message, Wayne said they are all strong and truthful.
"The Lord has led me to give," Wayne said. "He's first and foremost in everything."
Wayne and Jackie's first official week with the First Assembly of God Church was Nov. 28. They are glad to be in Knoxville, and, as for how long they will stay, Wayne said "that is entirely up to the Lord."
"Wherever He says, I know that's where we're going to prosper," he said.