Pastor Derek Scott Gandy remembers how high in the spirit everyone was at the True Cornerstone Church in Mobile, Alabama, on Friday night after prophetess Alisha Woodard was done preaching.
“She was the speaker that night and she did a fantastic job. The church was so animated and inspired. Everybody was high in the Holy Ghost,” Gandy told The Christian Post Wednesday. “We just had an incredible worship experience that night. It was just fire from Heaven.”
It was the second night of the 2020 Women of God Through Promise Conference at True Cornerstone Church and prophetess Woodard, described by Gandy and his wife, Kula, as a woman in her 20s who recently graduated from college, brought a powerful message.
That night, said Kula, Woodard preached from 2 Kings in the Bible about the story of Elisha the prophet and the Shunammite woman.
In the story, the Shunammite woman shows great hospitality to Elisha so as a reward he prophesies that she would have a son to add to her childless marriage. She gives birth a year later and her son grows up. He eventually gets sick one day and dies, grieving the woman. She then goes back to Elisha for help and the prophet brings her son back to life.
“She was talking about how the Shunammite woman didn’t ask for the son that she received, but when she received that blessing she fought for the blessing that she had received from the man of God and how even when she went to go get the man of God, when the servant even asked how she was doing, she said it’s well. So she kept the faith, she kept pushing on and going on, and when she got to the man of God she just reminded him,” Kula said.
“She was just encouraging us all that even when things like death is all around, even when it seems like the blessing does not look like it’s gonna be there, just keep on pressing toward it.”
Little did the prophetess know that at the end of the service that night she would be forced to wrestle with death after the “devil … showed up in a deadly way,” according to pastor Gandy.
The Mobile Police Department said in a statement that at approximately 11:23 p.m. on Friday, they responded to the church on Halls Mill Road after receiving a report about a person being shot. When they got there, they saw a woman on the ground who had been shot.
The suspect involved reportedly fled the scene as police arrived. He was pursued by authorities and subsequently returned to the church. As officers approached his vehicle, however, the suspect shot himself. His car then crashed into the church. He was pronounced dead at the scene while his wife was taken to a local hospital where she is recovering.
Pastor Gandy and Kula identified the couple as prophetess Woodard and her late husband, Elder Ulysses Woodard. They both led the True Word of Deliverance Church of God in Prichard, Alabama, but for about two weeks now, they had been estranged.
“It (the estrangement) was very fresh,” said Gandy.
Elder Woodard was Gandy's good friend and mechanic who always knew how to make him and his sons laugh.
What happened on Friday, he said, he never saw coming. Elder Woodard, he said, “wasn’t a monster.”
“I didn’t see this coming. … I didn’t see this coming. He wasn’t a monster, at least not that I’ve ever seen,” he said.
Without getting into any details, Gandy said his friend had “vented” to him about things in his relationship that he thought could have been helped with counseling but saw “nothing that would lead to this” — that his friend would shoot his wife in the chest while standing right next to him.
Gandy explained that on Friday night he was the last person to get out of the church when Elder Woodard approached him.
“When I went outside, he just said, ‘Pastor, can I talk to my wife please?’ And I said, ‘Sure, that’s your wife.’ And he never said anything to anyone. He did not stress anyone. He did not disrespect anyone. He never raised his voice at all,” Gandy said.
He said as he locked the door of the church he saw the elder and his wife talking. Everyone else had already left the church for the night except the Gandys and three of their children, two church members who were traveling with them, as well as the prophetess.
Pastor Gandy said when he tried to offer the prophetess a ride home after noticing things appeared to be getting heated between her and her husband, things got worse.
“My initial response was I got back out of my car and I said to them, ‘Let me take her home.’ We were gonna give her a ride home. We had picked her up for our service,” he said.
He said he eventually left the couple alone because he didn’t want to “get involved in domestic issues.”
“I sat in the car to wait for her to finish talking. But then when she started screaming, hollering, let go, stop, then he had come over,” Gandy said.
Prophetess Woodard was trying to get away to get into Gandy’s car but her husband grabbed her arm.
“He managed to keep her in his grasp and he managed to get to his car and that’s where he had his weapon,” Gandy explained.
When asked if that’s when Elder Woodard shot his wife, he said, “Yes.”
When asked where he was at that point, he said: “I was in my car. The door was open. We pulled on against the weapon, standing right next to me. And he shot her in the chest. I had had my daughter so when he shot her I pulled off to the other side of the building.”
Pastor Gandy said he and his wife are still trying to process the tragedy and he is working on getting counseling for his children.
“What I struggle with is the fact that our young daughters were there. And I struggle with them actually returning (to the church.) And I’ve been thinking about how do we find a way to purchase a new church to leave that site. Of all of this, that’s probably the toughest thing,” Gandy explained.
“Our little daughter, she actually saw him shoot himself, so it’s tough. He was my friend. We didn’t talk every day, we probably didn’t talk every week. We didn’t hang out other than when I go to the shop for him to fix my car but you know, we were friends,” he said. “He was my comedian. He was funny. ... He just kept me laughing. He kept my sons laughing.”
Kula Gandy described prophetess Woodard as a “very sweet young lady.”
“She was just doing her thing. She was about Jesus. She loves Jesus. She loves His word. She’s just a vessel that’s just willing to be used by God,” Kula said.
And that’s why she wasn’t surprised by how the prophetess fought with her faith to stay alive after she was shot.
“She was calling on Jesus. Myself and another sister, we went and were praying for her after he (her husband) had left. He was on a high-speed chase with the police. So as soon as his car left, we went there and she was on the ground and she was crying and she was calling on Jesus, and we got down there and we started praying over her and for her,” Kula said.
She said she visited her in the hospital on Saturday and doctors said she’s “looking to do good” in terms of her recovery.
Earlier this month, prophetess Woodard and her late husband celebrated the fourth anniversary of their church under the theme “A Church Yet Holding On” featuring 1 Corinthians 15:58, which says: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
True Cornerstone Church is asking anyone interested in helping with their recovery to donate by clicking here or via “Cash App” to $TCCgive.