Let’s Start Talking Founders earn Missions Award The Woodwards

By Paige Adams

Let’s Start Talking is one of the most successful missionary programs among churches of Christ. It all started on the OC campus with Dr. Mark and Sherrylee (Johnson 93) Woodward.

Let’s Start Talking (LST) is a global ministry enabling groups of missionaries to share the gospel through English lessons.

LST teachers study with more than 5,000 people in more than 60 countries per year, using the Gospel of Luke to teach English to students.

Mark participated in mission campaigns every summer in college, and Sherrylee’s college years were when her desire for missions grew stronger.

“I always wanted to do mission work after college,” Sherrylee said. “I wanted to spend time sharing the gospel overseas.”

Mark and Sherylee met on a campaign to Scranton, Pennsylvania. After that, they wrote letters, visited each other, fell in love, and married in 1971. 

Mark had already committed to be a part of a mission team in Germany. They left the U.S. only four months after they were married. But it was a perfect situation for the newlywed missionaries.

“I fell in love with a man, a mission team, and a mission all at the same time.” Sherrylee said.

After serving in in Germany for eight years, they moved to Oklahoma Christian, where Mark took a job teaching English, German, and Literature. 

Sherrylee spent two years finishing her degree in Teaching English as a Second Language, graduating in 1993. They both cherished their time at OC.

“Everything was different, the atmosphere, the personal relationship you could have with the faculty, their care for your mind, body, soul and spirit,” Sherrylee said. “It was a wonderful place to be, and a wonderful place to raise your family.”

The Woodwards began taking a few students back to Germany with them each year. God used those efforts to seed something bigger.

“We didn’t know we were starting Let’s Start Talking. God started it, we just figured out what he wanted us to do,” Mark said. “The way it spread to other countries was through alumni like John (91) and Kelly (Brewster 90) Osborne, who went to teach English in Japan. They started to talk with the church there, and suddenly we had an invitation to Japan.”

Eventually, there were students all over the world who were inviting LST workers to come join their ministry. The most powerful lesson they learned on the mission field? “God will do the work of converting people,” Sherrylee said. “He has the power. It’s our job to tell the story.”

Fall 2017

View more stories from the Fall 2017 issue of Vision magazine.