A Close-knit Faith at 101

Even at her age, Doreen Woodward finds new ways to share Jesus.

Olivia Fairfax, Adventist Record, and Adventist Review
A Close-knit Faith at 101
One of Doreen Woodward’s nativity sets produced through a knitting hobby that, even at 101, she continues using as a ministry to share Jesus. [Photo: Adventist Record]

Doreen Woodward turned 101 in 2023, but even today she continues to find new ways to minister and share the gospel of Jesus.

Woodward’s nativity set ministry began around six years ago when she knitted a nativity set for family members for Christmas. When the members of her family and friends saw it, they were charmed and asked Woodward if she would make more. It was then that she realized she could perhaps turn this hobby into a ministry. Since then, she has made at least 12 nativity sets, each fetching between $AU50 and $100 (about US$32-$63), with all the profits going to the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA). 

Woodward’s intention when starting out in this ministry was to provide the nativity story to “homes where there was not much mention of Jesus.” She said her hope in doing this was that “at least once a year children would ask what it would mean.” In her mind, Christmas was an opportunity to share the story of Jesus to those who would otherwise not have an opportunity to learn or talk about Jesus. 

Woodward recollected, “The first one I made ended up going to Poland. Another went up to Queensland [Australia].” The nativity set that went to Queensland was bought by a teacher who worked in a public school and used the nativity set to teach his students about the story of Christmas. Woodward has been able to spread Jesus to many through her ministry. Her carer, who is not a Christian, has learned about Christianity and what it means while caring for Woodward as she knits her nativity sets, even wanting to get involved and knit an angel herself to give to her landlady. 

For Woodward, the biggest blessing from her ministry has been “seeing the joy people have when receiving them.” She says it is “a joy to know that I can do something — witness.”

Woodward lives in Glenorchy, Tasmania, Australia, and has been actively involved in church life ever since her baptism when she was 17. A highlight of her church life was the day her husband, Charlie, joined the church by profession of faith in his 90s. Over the years, she has taught children’s Sabbath School, served as head deaconess and church clerk, and at 101 she still regularly hosts church fellowship meetings in her home. 

When asked what her secret is to be living a long life, Woodward replied that the secret is to be content with what you have and to simply allow Jesus to take care of the frets and worries of this life. 

Woodward’s life has been a true example to people of all ages of how to minister to others and live a purposeful life. These have been 101 years of faith and ministry that has inspired us all.

The original version of this story was posted by Adventist Record.

Olivia Fairfax, Adventist Record, and Adventist Review