I grew up in Asheville with my mom and dad and two older brothers. I had a lot of great friends and we had a lot of great times as we did stuff together like playing Little League baseball and riding dirt bikes in the woods. For the most part, it was a happy childhood. But I did have one big problem that grew worse the older I got: I was a follower and not a leader. I often ended up doing the things that others around me were doing. Peer pressure ate me up. As a result, I struggled with lying, stealing, cheating, horrible language, lust and pornography, and on and on. All the way through adolescence, I followed this same pattern. At times I would think there was a better way, but I didn’t seem to have the power to change.
I figured out what was missing in my last couple of years in college at Chapel Hill. I had moved to an off-campus apartment and left behind all of my dormitory friends. It turned out to be a lonely period where I had time to do a lot of thinking. One thought was that I just didn’t like who I was. But I also started thinking about some lessons from my past. My mom and dad had always taught me that Jesus loved me and died on the cross to take my punishment for all the bad things I had ever done. They taught me that God had raised Jesus from the grave to prove He was able to change my life. They taught me that if I would turn from my wrong behavior and put my trust in Jesus and what He did for me, He’d forgive me and change me and give me eternal life. There in that quiet apartment, I put my trust in Jesus and surrendered my life to follow Him and no one else.
He immediately began to change me. The first change was that I lost the urge to follow others. It was ok not to be like the crowd. It was ok to be alone for a season. It was ok to be “different.” After college, I got married to a beautiful, blue-eyed girl named Tricia. We’ve been together now since 1985. Even with Jesus leading the way, things haven’t always been easy. After having a healthy baby boy named Jared, we went through the agony of three straight miscarriages. When the reality of that first miscarriage hit us at the doctor’s office, we were in shock. We stumbled to the car and collapsed into each other’s arms; I didn’t think we could cry that much. Numbers two and three weren’t easier but even harder; those were our babies that we would never get to hold on this earth. It was a painful, confusing season. But even in our brokenness, God showed up and got us through it. He even blessed us with a wonderful second son named Seth. Now we’re celebrating the birth of our first grandchild. We moved to Rocky Mount in 2011 and really love being here. I’m still not perfect but Jesus is still changing me!
Steve was born in Henderson, NC and raised near Richmond, VA (Midlothian). After graduating with a business degree from Elon College he married Virginia in 1985. They have four children: Melissa Felton (Andrew), Jana Woodcock (Neil), Zachary and Luke. Grandparenting is the latest calling on the horizon as Lawson and Ava have come into their lives. Steve earned his Master of Divinity with Church Music degree from Southeastern Seminary. After uniting with SABC as a layman in 1988 and then as a seminary student(1991-1993), the Roberson’s moved to Durham, NC to serve in their first full time position at Gorman Baptist Church. In 1997, God called them back to SABC where Steve currently serves as Associate Pastor, overseeing worship and administration.
I grew up in Mobile, Al with my Mom, Dad, and my younger brother. My Dad owned a furniture store and my mom was a school teacher. I enjoyed the outdoors and lived in the kind of neighborhood where mom would kick us out of the house and tell us to come home when the street lights came on. I was the good kid growing up and my poor little brother always got compared to me. But even though I might have seemed to be good on the outside, I still did the wrong things. I still stole things. I used to get in trouble for steeling school supplies from school. I still lied to my parents and would fight with my brother all the time. Though I might have looked like a good person, I knew I was not.
When I was about 7, I was sitting in church one day, Fred Wolfe was the preacher, and he gave an invitation for people to come to the front of the church who wanted to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. I did not really know what that meant or what I was doing, but I went to the front of the church. When I got there, I was met by Brother Jim, my children’s pastor. He took me to a side room and began to explain to me what it means to be a follower of Jesus. He used simple pictures to show me the truth about who Jesus was and what I needed to do. He showed me that those bad things I had done were sin and that death was the penalty for that sin. Next, he showed me how Jesus came and was perfect. Jesus never sinned, never earned death. My pastor explained that when Jesus died he took my place so that if I believed in him I would have my sin paid for. Brother Jim also taught me how Jesus not only died but also rose from the dead. He explained that If I sincerely followed Jesus that I would have eternal life with him. As my children’s pastor explained the truth about Jesus that day, I truly understood my need for a savior, and prayed and became a follower of Jesus. From then on, I have felt the peace and purpose that comes from following Jesus.
I was kind of a nerd growing up, and when I went to college I added math as an extra major just because I enjoyed the subject. The first math class I took in college was Calculus 2 and there I met my wife. She did not like me at first. She thought I was arrogant because I did not own a math book for that Calculus class and would just come in ever day of class and work the homework problems on the board off the top of my head. Thankfully, that was not the only class we took together, and she got to know me better through other classes and through working together as a math tutor. Eventually in our last year of college we started dating and shortly after we finished school we got married. One of the biggest struggles I have every face happened during our first several years of marriage. My wife and I wanted to start a family but struggled to conceive. On top of this, when we did conceive, my wife suffered through two different miscarriages. We did not understand why this had happened. We had gone from the joys of parenthood to the loss of a child. It was difficult but during that time we truly felt God’s strength and comfort helping us to get through it. In 2009, my wife and I moved to Rocky Mount and she was pregnant for a third time. This time God gave us the gift of our oldest daughter Caroline, and since then, we have had two other daughters born, Abigail and Julianne. Our daughters have truly been blessings in our life, a gift from God that we are so thankful for. And even though we have faced other struggles including a third miscarriage, yet we know that God is with us. It is him that we look to for life and hope.
Neil Woodcock was born and raised in Rocky Mount, NC and has been married to his wife Jana since 2011. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Liberty University; and his Master of Divinity degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC. Neil enjoys spending time outdoors and playing sports. He has served with us at Sunset as the Youth Pastor since 2010.