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Mesa Musings:

Pastor can’t help but be poignant

October 20, 2009|By Jim Carnett

Dr. George O. Wood has been my pastor and friend for many years.

Actually, the popular minister is a friend to many. He’s got a whopping 5,000 friends on Facebook!

For 17 years, Wood pastored Newport-Mesa Christian Center in Costa Mesa. That’s where I first met him. I sat under his teaching from 1983 to 1988. I’ve had many other pastors before and since, but he’s the one I claim as my pastor.

I began attending church at the age of 8 and, except for 16 years of wandering in the wilderness of agnosticism from ages 16 to 32, I’ve been a believer ever since. At 32, with three young children and a fourth on the way — and a massive hole in my soul — I opted for the pursuit of meaning and significance.

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Cerebral and academic, Wood is a remarkable teacher and compelling orator. His sermons appeal to people who think.

Wood was elected two years ago to the position of general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, headquartered in Springfield, Mo. Putting it in untechnical, layman’s terms, he’s pope for the 2.8-million-member U.S. denomination.

Wood spent 14 years as general secretary for the fellowship before being installed as general superintendent Aug. 9, 2007.

In his acceptance speech, Wood said: “The Lord [has] dropped a verse in my heart: ‘My yoke is easy and my burden is light.’ I know that many responsibilities await me — but I also believe that the Lord intended all ministry to be a journey of joy.”

Joy swathes his daily endeavors. Wood earned his doctorate in pastoral theology from Fuller Seminary in Pasadena. He holds a juris doctorate from Western State University of Law and is a member of the California State Bar. He did his undergraduate work in history, religion and philosophy at Evangel College in Springfield, Mo.

The son of missionary parents, Wood spent his formative years in China and Tibet. He’s the author of seven books. He has led more than 30 trips to the Holy Land, and I’ve had the good fortune of traveling with him twice: in the winter of 1988-89 and in the spring of 1990. For me, the trips were life-changing.

New impressions began to assail me on the first trip even before the wheels of our El Al 747 lifted off the runway.

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