By Karen L. Willoughby, Managing Editor
ATLANTA – A professional photographer has determined to use what he calls his “God-given gift” to advance God’s kingdom.[img_assist|nid=7512|title=Jason and Kim Woody|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=465|height=640]
Health issues led Jason Woody, a member of Iatt Baptist Church near Atlanta, to rethink his life and the way he had misused his talent for photography. Once known for the erotic fine art that was “quite profitable” when sold in New Orleans, Woody said he has decided to serve God with his camera.
He came to the realization in July that “It’s time to use these talents to bring people closer to Christ,” Woody said. He’d been growing in his faith for the last 18 months, believing God spared his life “for a reason” after a stroke at 33 and a heart attack at 40.
His desire: to provide free photos to people from the community who come to a church for a sitting. He will take the photos with a digital camera, and place them on a disk that he will give to the people. No cost to the people or to the church.
“I had never before thought of using my photography for God,” Woody said. “Now all I can think about is bringing people closer to Christ through it.”
Iatt Pastor Terry Smith said Woody “is a nice man; he’s helped a lot of people out in our community. He gets along well with all our people.”
Woody’s photography ministry started July 24, when about 50 families from the Iatt community came to the church to have Woody take their pictures, about double the usual attendance for Sunday morning worship.
“We advertised it quite a bit, in the community and in other churches, and we had a wonderful turnout,” said Smith, adding that he invited nearby family members also to get their photo taken at no cost, and other members in the church did the same.
Woody took no money for his ministry, but donations were taken for the church, which plans to use them in local ministries, such as school supplies this fall for children whose families could use a little extra help, Smith said.
“It takes time and preparation to [have this photography ministry], but it was beneficial to us and I think it would be to other churches,” Smith said.
Woody’s story is that of a man redeemed from alcohol and a life of dissipation. “What that does is unweave all moral fabric in your life,” Woody said. A stroke in 2002, at age 33, changed his direction.
“I lost vision in my dominant eye,” Woody said. “I had to retrain my brain to think with my left eye. At the same time, I was digging deep into my soul. I asked myself, ‘What are you doing with your life?’” He had ruined his health because of the bad choices he made, he determined.
But instead of turning to God, Woody returned to the life he knew. About five years later, he met Kim Taylor. Six months later, the two married. She was a member at Calvary Baptist Church in Alexandria; he started attending.
“That’s where I learned the Baptist church – Baptist members – typically are nondrinkers so at any church-related function or get-togethers, there’s no alcohol,” Woody said. “I realized, all of a sudden, I need to align myself with the Baptist religion!”
A year later, in the fall of 2009, Woody made a public profession of faith at Calvary. But he was going through the motions, he now says, until his heart attack in February 2010. That’s when, Woody says, he had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, and understood God had a plan for his life.
Months passed, months in which Woody repeatedly said to God, “I’ve been waiting and waiting; why do you need me here? … Then it came to me to do this Fellowship Photography. … It’s time to use my God-given talents to bring people closer to Christ.”
Call Woody at 318.646. 3978 or Pastor Terry Smith at 318.664.0522 for more information.