July 18

Some of you are going to shake your heads at this story, but it is reportedly true.

The Gum Spring Baptist Church of North Carolina was constituted on this day in 1829 after Elders Hezekiah Harmon, Isaac Kerby, and another man named Hicks, had ministered in the area for some time. Hicks became the pastor of the New Hope Mountain Church, but for reasons unknown to me, it eventually dissolved.

While there, the Lord blessed with a great outpouring of His Spirit, and one of the converts was the wife of William Drake. When this lady wanted to be baptized as a testimony of her new life in Christ, her husband became enraged. He thought the idea was ridiculous and dangerous. He said if the preacher drowned his wife he would kill him. Constantly thinking about it, Mr. Drake became more and more beside himself – deranged. On the day of the baptism, Drake actually followed his wife into the water without apparently realizing it. The immersion went well, and Mrs. Drake went home with her husband following, but his agitation was different – it had become Holy Spirit conviction. He went to bed in agony of heart and over the next few days, physically wasted away.

A short while later, Pastor Hicks was invited to the Drake home to preach the gospel to a group of neighbors, with Drake listening from his bedroom. His resistence was broken down, and he called upon the Lord to save him. He then asked Bro. Hicks to baptize him, and the preacher agreed to meet him at the Haw River the next morning. But Drake disagreed, “It must be right now.” The pastor consented, and a group of men carried Mr. Drake into the river. I don’t know exactly how it was done, but the man was immersed, and when he came up out of the water, he had been delivered from whatever had incapacitated him, walking home with his wife.

In time, William Drake grew in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, becoming a deacon in the New Hope Church. Then a few years later, at the founding of Gum Spring Church, William Drake became the first deacon in the history of that congregation.