Jack the Baptizer

Jack is in the center of the picture.

The other night, I received a phone call from an old friend. I first met him 33-years ago when I graduated from college and began preaching for the church in Nitro, WV. My friend’s name is Jack Higginbotham (no relation). He called that night, bubbling over with excitement because he had baptized three people into Christ.

Allow me to back up and give some context to this phone call.  My friend, Jack was born with Cerebral Palsy. This ailment has severely affected Jack’s speech, eyesight, and though Jack is able to walk, he is very unstable and frequently falls. Jack has had a very difficult life. Because of his speech and his continually falling down, he was made fun of by his peers growing up. His father was an alcoholic and abandoned him. His brother suffered from a grand-mal seizure as a baby, and lived for the next quarter of a century unresponsive, curled-up in a fetal position. Jack’s mother cared for his brother 24/7 until his death. Just months after his brother’s death, Jack’s mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and shortly thereafter, she too, passed away.

All the while, Jack’s faith in God, and his desire to go to Heaven was undaunted. I have spent hundreds of hours talking about God, the Bible, and heaven with Jack. Before I moved from Nitro, Jack had a burning desire to preach a sermon. Such a desire was impossible due to his speech difficulties. But that didn’t stop Jack. He dictated what he wanted said, and had a brother deliver his sermon for him. I’ll never forget one part of his sermon.  Jack roughly said, “My life has been a succession of tragedies. I’ve been made fun of all my life. I’ve lost everyone close to me and who loved me the most. These things might cause some to want to give up, but not me. For me, they give me more determination to live my life faithfully. You see, I long for heaven! I long to be able to talk like everyone else. I long to be able to walk and run without falling and being laughed at. I long to have a perfect body, instead of this broken one I have. And I long to be reunited with my mom and my brother, and to meet Jesus who makes all this possible.” His sermon left me in tears 33-years ago, and as I recall his words at this moment, my eyes still well up with tears.

You can’t be around Jack and not know he is a Christian. He is the epitome of an unashamed disciple of Jesus. So when he called the other night, he could barely contain himself. You see, Jack had the privilege of baptizing three men into Christ. He initially called to get “pointers” on how to baptize these men and not drown them and himself! (Remember, Jack has terrible balance). He determined to have a gospel preacher (Craig Culbertson) join him in the baptistery in case he needed some help. However, Jack did just fine. Jack told me this was one of the greatest moments in his life. And Just before we hung up the phone that evening, Jack said, “From now on, just call me, ‘Jack the baptizer.'”

I share this story with you because I want my friend, Jack to be an encouragement to you. I want you to rejoice with him, and thank God for being able to use, not only the strong and healthy, but the weak and broken.  I also hope Jack removes far from you any excuses you may have been using as to why you can’t evangelize. Jack reminds us that the power is not in the vessel, but in the gospel!

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