88-year-old man’s baptism stirring hearts at River Baptist

by MARK MAYNARD, Kentucky Today

BARBOURVILLE, Ky. (KT) – Revival has come to the River Baptist Church after a series of baptisms, including an 88-year-old former police officer.

Pastor John Loudin said some of it started about a year ago when an older woman in the community passed away. Her husband had not accepted Jesus as his savior.

“Within a day before she passed away, he was saved,” Loudin said. “She woke up from her coma and he was able to tell her.”

The man’s son and daughter were later saved along with a friend of the daughter, the pastor said.

Wesley King, the 88-year-old ex-policeman who was saved, was a lifelong friend of the man who told his wife on her deathbed that he had accepted Jesus.

“All that has brought revival in our community,” said Loudin, who baptized his 17-year-old daughter Serenity on the same day that King was immersed by his grandson and son — both pastors.

He said the celebration at River Baptist could be heard from far away.

“It was huge, people clapping and crying," Loudin said. “It was a service off the charts.”

When Loudin became pastor of River Baptist in October, there were 15 to 20 members attending regularly. That number has more than doubled, he said. “I can only attribute that to God doing great things and using ordinary people.”

The crowd was especially big for the baptism service Sunday. He said there were 133 in attendance. “If we had five more, we’d have had people standing,” the pastor said.

Gary King, the grandson, is pastor of nearby Bethesda Baptist. He had asked the church to have a fill-in for him on Sunday. Instead, church members said they would rather join him in the service at River Baptist and more than 30 attended.

Henry King, the son of Wesley and also a pastor, was in the baptistry with his son and father.

“It’s really cool to see the change in him,” Loudin said of Wesley King. “The first time I met him, he kind of nodded at me. Every Sunday he’d come in the morning and walk on in, giving me a nod. Three weeks ago, his grandson called me and said his grandfather asked about being saved. He said, ‘I think God is dealing with him.’ I told him I’d put an extra effort in when talking to him. I was greeting everybody on our porch, and he got out of the car. He was halfway across to me and hollered at me and said, ‘I need to talk to you.’”

Loudin said he went immediately to him, and King told him: “I want to be saved.”

“It was right after Sunday School and I said, ‘We will do that right now.’”

The next Sunday, Loudin said, King’s demeanor had completely changed. He was smiling and happy when coming inside the church. “It blew me away,” he said. “He grinned from ear to ear.”

“The thing about both of these guys, it’s not like they were wild and buck crazy,” Loudin said of King and his friend whose wife had passed away. “They were both good guys and were phenomenal guys in the community, well-respected. They just weren’t saved. Sometimes, to me, those guys are harder to reach.”

The pastor said King was by far the oldest person he’s ever seen experience salvation.

“It has been amazing. We have baptized six this year. Just phenomenal. I’ve had people ask, ‘What are you doing down at River?' I tell them I’m not doing anything. If you’re hungry, God will feed you.”