Emmaus Has Changed, and so Have We!
-Barry & Linda Woodring
Six months before Pearl Harbor was bombed, I was born to the Woodring family in the Pennsylvania borough of Catasauqua. I lived there on Race Street until I graduated from high school and headed into the military around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1959. After I was discharged in 1963, I worked a job for several years before taking over my father-in-law’s grocery store and meat market in Emmaus in 1973.
The Emmaus/Macungie area has changed a lot in the past thirty years. Back then there were lots of open farming fields and grassy lots. Our little store and the nearby IGA grocery store were thriving and bustling with customers. Next door was a popular DJ Ice Cream shop which later became Yocco’s Hot Dogs. The landmark Trivet Restaurant on the nearby corner has remained popular, but so many other things have changed. As new chain grocery stores moved into town and the grocery wholesaler we used for our store went bankrupt, we decided to downsize and have the Woodrings’ Meat Market focus on selling meats, cheeses, and other deli items and rent out the other half of our building.
We ran the store this way for several years. Then, due to our age and health, we decided in 2004 to retire and sell our store and property. As we grow older and look back at our memories and old pictures, it seems that so many things have changed.
“But probably no change is as dramatic as the changed life that occurs when a person trusts Christ as personal Savior. I first saw that change in my own father.”
My father was a heavy drinker. At the age of 40, while out selling Electrolux vacuums door to door, he met a lady who shared the gospel with him. She told him of how Christ came to die on the Cross to pay for my father’s sins and give him new life, both now and for eternity. He trusted the Lord as his Savior that day, and his life changed immediately. He stopped drinking and became a faithful husband and good father. He was baptized in the Jordan Creek in Allentown and started attending church faithfully. As a young teenager, I was amazed and impressed with the change and wondered how long it would last. His relatives and friends thought he had become a real religious fanatic or nut.
In 1957 my father sent me to a Christian summer camp, where as a 16 year old, I clearly heard the gospel. Though the Lord began working in my heart then, it would be another 24 years before I truly turned my life over to Him. I soon graduated from high school and headed into the military, where I put spiritual things on the back burner.
Several years later, on August 19th, 1981, my godly father died. I was deeply sobered and determined to seek the Lord. I headed to a local church where some friends attended and went forward at an invitation after a service on September 30th, 1981, broken in my spirit. I knelt by the altar, repenting of my sins, and surrendered my life to the Lord.
“Though I had not lived the first 40 years of my life for the Lord, I gave Him control of the rest of my years.”
It was at that point that my life began to change dramatically. The Bible describes this change in John chapter 5, verse 24, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” This is what had happened in my life.
My wife and I looked for a Bible-preaching church closer to home and found the Lehigh Valley Baptist Church, just around the corner from our store. We began attending on Sunday nights. Two months later, on November 22nd, my wife, Linda, surrendered her life to the Lord and was saved.
I had started drinking and smoking while in the military and continued over the years. The Lord took away all desire that I had for alcohol and tobacco after I surrendered my life to Him, and I quit both habits. We were both baptized soon after Linda’s conversion and joined the Lehigh Valley Baptist Church.
Another big change was putting the Lord first in our lives, even if it meant we might lose some business and income. We had always kept Woodring’s Market open on Sundays, but that fall we determined to close on Sundays and trust the Lord. Our family and friends said we were crazy – we would lose business to our competitors. But that didn’t happen, and the Lord met our needs as we put Him first.
“Just recently I have had to deal with cancer. It has not been easy, but I cannot imagine dealing with it without the peace, strength, and grace that the Lord has given me.”
We have seen Him answer direct prayers over and over again. He has given us many opportunities to give the gospel to others, much like that lady in 1957 gave my father the gospel at her doorstep. It is our prayer and desire that you and everyone we meet will come to know the life-changing salvation that Christ offers to all – and that has changed our own lives!
In the Word of God, Jesus Christ offered this invitation in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” I want to extend an invitation to all my friends, family, former customers, neighbors, and classmates to experience the same salvation that Jesus freely provided to me!
Barry passed away from cancer on July 2, 2015, trusting in His Savior.