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Harold Pike, 86, accepts KBC lifetime evangelism award, asks prayer for son

Rev. Harold and Martha Pike (center) are flanked by Kentucky Baptist Convention Executive Director-Treasurer Todd Gray (left) and KBA President Wes Fowler pray for the Pikes' son, Mark, who has cancer and COVID.

ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (BP) – Rev. Harold Pike, who was recognized Tuesday at the Kentucky Baptist Convention Annual Meeting with the Lifetime Leadership in Evangelism Award for his 61 years of service, used the occasion to ask prayer for his ailing son Mark Pike.

Harold, who is 86 and the senior pastor at First Baptist Dayton (Ky.) since 2011, was standing with his wife Martha when he became emotional talking about the loss of one son to cancer 11 months ago and now a second son also has cancer and COVID-19. He said Mark Pike was on a ventilator and in a coma for the past 23 days.

“I really, really want you to help us to pray that we will not lose another son,” said Pike, his voice breaking. “As moms and dads, we assume we’ll die before our kids (but) it’s been the other way around, I know for a lot in this room, that may be true, too.”

A brilliant athlete, Mark Pike played a dozen years for the Buffalo Bills in the NFL, including being on all four of Buffalo’s Super Bowl teams. He was a special teams dynamo with more special teams tackles (255) than even the more acclaimed Steve Tasker, who was a perennial All-Pro special teams selection.

Pike led the team in special teams total tackles for seven of the last eight years he spent with the Bills, flying all over the field with reckless abandon. By the time he retired in 1998, Pike had played all 12 of his NFL seasons with Buffalo, dressing for 173 games. Not bad for a seventh-round pick out of Georgia Tech. He played high school football for Dixie Heights in Edgewood, Ky.

Harold Pike was quite an athlete himself, playing basketball at the University of Louisville. He was on the Cardinals 1956 NIT championship team. He was still playing competitively in 2002, at the age of 66, on an adult team called the Cincinnati Cougars, who lost in the finals of a 65-and-over tournament in Buffalo. Pike made the all-tournament team.

But he was born to preach, not play basketball.

“The first preaching class I had at Southern, the professor said, ‘Harold, you will never make it as preacher. Maximum I give you is three years.’ He said, ‘You better stick with basketball, because you’ll never make it preaching.’ Sixty-five years later, I’m still preaching Jesus,” Pike said with a laugh. “The secret? I got in the Word and I stayed in the Word every day since Jesus came into my life in August of ’71.”

Pike preached at several places, but the longest tenure was at Southside in Covington, Ky., for 37 years.

“When I finished Southside, I was interviewed on television,” he said. “The reporter said, ‘Tell us what you’ve accomplished.’ I said, ‘Well, I haven’t done anything.’ He said, ‘You’ve been in that church 37 years and didn’t accomplish anything?’ I said, ‘Well, I’ve been present when the Lord did many mighty things but I didn’t do it.’’’

Pike took over at Dayton in 2011 at the age of 75, and he’s still going strong.

“I want to close with this,” he said. “To me, the greatest single promise is Isiah 41:10. He said do not be afraid because I am with you. Do not be discouraged because I am your God. I’ll do three things for you: strengthen you, help you, uphold you with my victorious right hand. We claim that promise for our son who is fighting for his life right now.”

With that, the crowd gave him standing ovation and Todd Gray, executive director-treasurer of the KBC, and KBC President Wes Fowler prayed alongside Pike and his wife for their son.

    About the Author

  • Mark Maynard/Kentucky Today

    Mark Maynard writes for Kentucky Today, www.kentuckytoday.com, where this article first appeared. Kentucky Today is a news resource of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

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