Evangel Profile

Jonas Woods (’01): Christian recording artist

October 24, 2014

It was a summer night in downtown Springfield, and Evangel student Jonas Woods was playing guitar for an eclectic audience. The passersby included people of all walks of life, among them businessmen, drug dealers, prostitutes and the homeless.

While the humdrum of the square could bother some college kids, Woods was used to it. During those days he often came down to perform after his Greek summer school classes ended.

But tonight, something would be different.

As Woods played “American Pie,” a man approached him and asked if Woods believed in God, to which Woods quickly answered yes. The man then began attacking Woods’ faith.

“With that simple and weak response, he began to dismantle me piece-by-piece until I had nothing left,” Woods says.

After taking the verbal beating, Woods packed up his guitar and returned to campus. And as he thought about what had happened that night, he came to a fresh conclusion about his walk with Christ.

“I realized in that moment that although I had the book knowledge for my belief, I had yet to step into the amazing, real relationship with my Creator,” he says.

With that realization, Woods began approaching his downtown concerts differently. He started praying before His performances and began taking time to listen to the people he met on those summer nights. It was a change in perspective that would help lay the groundwork for the future of his musical career.

Today, Woods is a full-time Christian recording artist, traveling the world with his family as he performs concerts, leads worship and speaks at 150 to 200 events per year. From those days as a student strumming his guitar on the square to his wife’s recent battle with cancer, Jonas Woods’ career has continued to show him the value of staying close to his Creator.

Jonas Woods

As a full-time recording artist, Jonas Woods tours with his family and appears at 150 to 200 events per year.

Hello Evangel, Farewell June

Woods’ musical endeavors began when he was young. While growing up in Rhode Island, Woods began playing violin at age 5. When Woods began looking at colleges, he gave Evangel a visit based on a recommendation from his cousin. The visit won him over.

“I fell in love with the attention to detail and to the stellar faculty,” Woods says. “I was hooked.”

Woods received a violin scholarship and played in the Evangel University orchestra. He also frequently led worship in Chapel.

As a freshman, Woods met Becky Armstrong, a missionary kid from Egypt with a beautiful singing voice. The two began dating and would eventually marry, beginning many years of ministering through music together.

As he studied Biblical Studies and Psychology, the close attention of the professors provided the self-proclaimed “crazy kid from Rhode Island” with the direction he needed.

“I was so impressed — and am still impressed — with the personal attention that the professors give to each student,” Woods says. “I was protected, loved and taught amazing things about life and God that I’ll never forget.”

After graduation, Woods and his wife began a band called Farewell June. A producer in Springfield soon discovered the band and took the members to Nashville to sign a record deal. Farewell June put out two albums, 1939 and Identity Crisis, and toured with artists like FFH, Anthony Evans and Petra.

In 2009, Farewell June made the decision to break up, and Woods ventured into his career as a solo artist. Woods released his first solo album, Transparent, in 2010. He also began touring with his wife and two sons, Hunter and Liam.

Tales of the Bittersweet

Woods and his wife began penning the music to his second solo album, Tales of the Bittersweet, in 2012. Within a couple months, they received news that would make the road to this album more of a journey than ever before.

It was a normal day when Becky Woods went to the doctor’s office for a normal checkup. But the news she received was anything but normal. She had stage IV non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It was cancer — the scariest news the Woods family had ever had to endure. It was news that would test Jonas Woods’ personal faith in a new way.

“All my life I’ve told people and believed in my heart that God was real and that He loved me, but until this moment it had only been conceptual,” Woods says. “At that moment, I realized that I had to determine whether I really believed that God was real or not.”

Taking time off from his music, Woods supported his wife as she went through chemotherapy. After eight months of fervent prayer and medical treatments, Becky Woods emerged cancer-free.

“We recognize the power of medicine and respect the genius of doctors, but we also recognize that only God has the ability to give or take life,” Woods says. “We are blessed to serve such a loving God.”

Woods released Tales of the Bittersweet in May of 2014. Subtitled “A Sonic Novel,” this record was produced by Paul Colman, former member of the Newsboys and the Paul Colman Trio. The album is available now on the Jonas Woods website and on iTunes.

From all his experiences, Woods says his advice to students is to surround themselves with the best role models and friends that they can. He says their formational value is essential.

“The choices we make at the beginning of our years influence who we become,” Woods says. “I was blessed to associate with great men and women of God who inspired me, influenced me, and loved me through my toughest years. Find those people. Become those people.”