Editor’s note: This series introduces one minister from a faith-based organization in the community each month.
Veola Thomas lives to serve, and her resume proves it.
She was a nurse in a hospital and retired after 18 years.
That’s when she started her next career. For the past 18 years, Thomas has served as co-pastor at Church of Life Deliverance Tabernacle Inc. in Lula.
“From being in the hospital and working in the medical center, it’s such a change,” she said.
Thomas said while working in ministry is a different physical setting than nursing, the core principle is the same. Both involve individual, intimate hands-on help.
Another similarity is many are “called” into both professions.
“Originally I went to school to be a nurse ... but I’m here because of the will of the Lord,” she said.
Thomas said when she answered her pastoral call, she moved from Atlanta to Lula to lead the Church of Deliverance with her husband, Willie L. Thomas. The couple went from seeing each other just at home to working side by side on a daily basis.
“He’s strengthened me,” she said of her husband of 26 years.
Their service to God affected their six children, ranging in age from 28 to 50-plus. One son is a pastor at a Gainesville church. And several other family members sing and show their love for God in church, she said. This has made her life interesting.
“It’s been an adventure,” Thomas said.
Thomas’ love for nursing, however, has never diminished. In fact, she still visits nursing homes, but shares the word of God this time.
“I like seeing people blossom, just come alive,” she said. “I’m here to make a difference, even if it’s just one life.”
Thomas not only focuses on offering the elderly her time and compassion. She works with the younger generation to show them right from wrong and not to give into temptation.
Her work had an effect on Laura Bailey, who has been attending Church of Life Deliverance Tabernacle, Inc. for 18 years. Thanks to Thomas’ teaching, Bailey said she’s learned to lift up people who are down, encourage the discouraged and speak life to a person who’s in a dark situation.
“There is so much evil in the world. Nobody seems to care about it,” she said. “God cares.”
And Thomas is a real woman of God, Bailey said.
“She not only preaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but she lives it,” she said. “Some preachers will tell you what the word of God says, but they don’t live it.”
Thomas sat down with The Times to talk about her second career as a co-pastor.
Question: What is your favorite thing about being a pastor at Church of Life Deliverance Tabernacle Inc.?
Answer: It’s to lead people to God, lead them in the right direction according to the word of God. To see a change in people as they come in and as they grow. To see how they started out and progress and how they grow up into God. What I really like is seeing the glow on their faces when God touches them.
Q: What are some of the strengths of this church community?
A: As far as the community, it’s small and people are friendly. We go out into the community and encourage people if they don’t have a church to get in church.
Q: What are areas that need growth or improvement?
A: The communication among the younger people. Usually the older people are pretty set on where they go to church and what they do. Mainly reaching out to all people, but mainly the younger people are the ones that seem idle. (We need) to talk to them about their beliefs and their soul.
Q: What is your hope for the Church of Life Deliverance Tabernacle Inc.?
A: The hope is that we reach many, many souls and that we be a light. That we are being an example to the community and to the people around us. What we say, we do and what we believe, we carry out and be factual, to the point and direct. To be led by the word of the Lord, never our theory, because Jesus said he’s the way, truth and life. And to make sure we stay focused on what it is God has called us to do.