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Surprise! Minister, wife meet Oprah, receive unexpected gifts

Talk show queen Oprah Winfrey doesn’t make it out to the woods too often.
For a recent special, though, Winfrey and friend Gayle King hitched a pop-up camper to a Chevrolet Tahoe hybrid and hit the road to Yosemite National Park.
The purpose of Winfrey’s adventure: to meet Shelton Johnson, a black park ranger who complained that few African-Americans visit America’s national parks.
While exploring Yosemite, Winfrey ran into Woody Square, who has served since 1992 as youth and family minister for the San Leandro Church of Christ in California. Square is black.
“Hi, where are y’all from?” Winfrey asked Square and his wife, Judy.
“Guess why we’re here?” King chimed in. “Because we were told black people don’t normally come to the forest. And we go, ‘There’s a black man!’”
“Surprise!” Square replied with a laugh. “I’m the first one here.”

The Squares, who were visiting Yosemite with friends from Australia, posed for photos with Winfrey and couldn’t stop talking about the encounter.

“It was totally surreal,” said Woody Square, who earned an associate’s degree from York College in Nebraska, a bachelor’s in Bible from Harding University in Searcy, Ark., and a master’s in ministry from Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.

“The fact that we met her was amazing,” said Judy Square, who served with her husband for six years as missionaries to Papua New Guinea.

A week later, an “Oprah” producer called and invited the Squares to fly to Chicago and appear on the show. The producer said the show would take care of everything — flights, chauffeurs, accommodations and all tips.

During the taping, the Squares chatted briefly with Winfrey. Near the end of the show, the host again smiled at them.

“Woody, it seems like camping just brings you so much joy, right?” Winfrey said to Square, who visits Yosemite yearly. “So, come on up here, guys.”

As the Squares stood next to her, Winfrey said, “So, I would have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Yosemite, and everybody should get there at least once in their lifetime, don’t you think?

“But the truth is,” she said, “I have to finish the 25th season, and the next time I go, I’m going to find a butler. 

“So, I won’t be going anytime soon. So, I want to give you guys the keys to my Coleman camper. And, because you guys have been so great, you need something to pull it with. So, I’m throwing in the Chevy hybrid Tahoe.”

Woody Square leaned his head back in surprise. 

His wife put her hands over her face.

Winfrey didn’t know it, but the Squares’ 11-year-old Toyota Camry has 220,000-plus miles on it. They were hoping to make it last another two years.

“We really felt it was a God thing that brought us there at the right time at the right place,” Judy Square said of crossing paths with Winfrey. 


  • Feedback
    Hey, wan house. I know you will use your blessings well. Love,
    Rose Cobb
    Tent City Church of Christ
    Lae, Papua New Guinea
    Tent City Church of Christ
    January, 3 2011

    Congratulations Diwai
    God does work in amazing ways.
    mi igat bikpela hamamas tru long yutupela na long wok yutupela i save mekim, na mibilip dispela em wanpela wei long God i strongim yutupela.
    Wesley Wosse
    Lae. Papua New Guinea.
    Wesley Wosse
    Lae, Morobe
    Papua New Guinea
    December, 21 2010

    That’s awesome. Sometimes good things DO happen to great people!!
    Woody, Hey, If you visit Harding or AR, you’ll always have a place to park the camper! Love to se y’all again!
    Barry Bentley
    Holly Springs
    Pangburn, AR
    December, 18 2010

    Great to read all about your story. God is good and may He continue to bless you.
    Mi amamas tru lukim long pes bilong yu tupela.
    Love from Tom & Rens Bunt.
    Tom & Rens Bunt
    The Point Church of Christ
    Brisbane, Quennsland
    December, 15 2010

    Congrats Woody and Judy. You guys are a blessing and should be blessed. Drive on over and we will celebrate with you. God is indeed great!
    Dr Tobey Huff
    Vuda Point, Lautoka
    December, 14 2010

    This could not have happened to nicer people. Went to York with Woody. A great guy.
    david ramsey
    colorado springs, colorado
    December, 6 2010

    I saw the show and it was so exciting! Especially getting that Tahoe ~ what an awesome surprise! Oprah was really generous…and we know its a God thing! Blessing on the family and happy camping!
    Martie Noll
    Oak Hills
    San Antonio, TX
    United States
    December, 5 2010

    What a wonderful blessing for the Square family–I am sure they will enjoy the Coleman camper and the Chevy Tahoe they received from Oprah. This is definitely a blessing from the Lord. Best of wishes to the family.
    Sharon Skinner
    Central Church of Christ
    Shawnee , OK
    November, 27 2010

    I can’t think of a more deserving couple! God is good!
    Steve Byrne
    Church of Christ at Pearl Harbor
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    November, 24 2010

    Congratulations, Judy and Woody! I usually don’t watch Oprah, but I would love to watch the show when you are on it. Let us know! Herman and Sandy Hughes
    Herman W. Hughes
    Kelseyville Church of Christ
    Lakeport, CA
    November, 24 2010

    Great story of sharing no matter who you are
    Betsy Bauman
    Picayune Church of Christ
    Picayune, MS
    November, 24 2010

    (Please forward to Woody.)
    Dear Woody,
    What a wonderful surprise! I’m so happy for you. And I remember with joy our time together in Memphis.
    Billie Silvey
    Culver Palms Church of Christ
    Culver City, CA
    November, 24 2010

    When will the Oprah Winfrey Show Air?
    John Bost
    Strasburg, VA
    November, 24 2010

Filed under: National

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