By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
VIDALIA – Alton Pecanty was in a hospital room battling cancer when he called his neighbor, Pastor Wes Faulk, to discuss his eternal future.
During the course of the conversation, Pecanty placed his trust in Christ. Afterward he asked to be baptized alongside his wife, Betty, at the First Baptist Church, Vidalia, as a public statement of his faith.
Betty had committed to live for Christ years before, but had not been obedient in being baptized.
On Nov. 25, Faulk beamed with joy after he baptized Alton, 78, and Betty, 74, calling the moment one of the most special in his 14 years of serving as a pastor.
“In the midst of a recent medical crisis from a hospital room in Houston, Mr. Alton, or ‘chicken man’ as we call him, shared with me how he had not trusted Jesus before,” Faulk recalled. “Right there on life support, he prayed a sinner’s prayer and promised to get baptized when he returned to town. He made good on his promise and was excited to be accompanied by his wife, who accepted Christ years ago but had failed to follow through with baptism herself.”
Betty said the baptism was the most memorable moment since they were married 56 years ago.
“I wanted to do this for a long time, and when my husband accepted Christ I knew this was the perfect time for the two of us to be baptized,” she said. “I am so thankful he made that decision to accept Christ and now we can spend eternity together in Heaven. I wouldn’t trade it for the world and would encourage anyone to get saved today, because it’s not too late.”
Alton and Betty Pecanty are among 36 people baptized since Faulk became pastor at First Baptist Vidalia in 2016. He said the baptisms represent his members’ mindset of loving their neighbors for Christ.
The congregation, whose average attendance is 400 on Sunday mornings, carries out acts of kindness for school district employees, first responders and city officials, and provides meals for those attending weekly meetings for Celebrate Recovery, a Christ-centered, 12-step recovery program for anyone struggling with hurt, pain or addiction of any kind. Members also have participated in disaster relief trips to Baton Rouge, Houston and the North Carolina coast.
“We don’t want to be the First Baptist Church of Vidalia but the First Baptist Church for Vidalia,” Faulk said. “I’m so thankful and proud of my church for embracing this vision and loving on our community and others across the state and world. We are seeing the Spirit of God move through our church and out into the community, and seeing neighbors trust Jesus — the most important decision of their lives.”
Faulk said Pecanty has since been blessed to learn he is now cancer free.
“Alton is joyful with everyone he meets,” Faulk added. “His example is one we can all follow – it is never too late to trust Jesus. Likewise, his response shows the importance of never taking for granted an opportunity to share the Gospel with neighbors.”