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Pastor ‘puckers with porker,’ celebrates answer to prayer

MALONE, Fla. (BP)–Locking lips with a pig most likely
would not be on anyone’s top 10 list of things to do, but
for one Baptist pastor, it was an answer to prayer.
Gary French, pastor of Friendship Baptist Church,
Malone, Fla., came face-to-face with a pink piglet as a
result of months of prayer for his church and its growth. In
fact, French gave the pig a big smooch during a recent
Sunday morning worship service amid his congregation’s
giggles and laughter. The intimate moment came in
appreciation to church members for accepting a challenge to
raise their Sunday school attendance to 150 people during
“I expected the congregation to bring in the new
members, I just didn’t know it would happen this soon,”
French jokingly said. “It was definitely an answered
French reported that in recent months prayer has been
the lifeline of the rural church, located in a small farming
community near the Florida/Alabama state line. At his
request, church members have committed to pray for each
other, the pastor, the church and unsaved people in the
Each Sunday at 7 a.m., 11 laymen and deacons gather to
pray with French and the church staff. During the
pre-service meetings, the men lay hands on French as they
seek God’s will for the worship service and the church’s
ministry. These men also meet weekly as prayer partners to
hold each other accountable to their commitment to pray.
Wednesday evening services also are centered around
prayer. Instead of a traditional Southern Baptist prayer
meeting, French delivers a short devotion and the
congregation gathers in small prayer groups for a time of
intercessory prayer.
“God’s Word tells us that we have not because we ask
not,” French said. “To communicate with God, we decided we
must pray and ask God to bring us people.” French said he
initiated the prayer emphasis as a result of his own
newfound commitment to prayer which he rediscovered at a
conference last year.
“During the meeting, the presence and power of God was
overwhelming,” he said. At that time, “I made up my mind
that I was going to personally seek the Lord and ask him to
show up in lives of our church members like he had in the
men’s lives at the conference. I knew the only way to do
that was for our church to pray.”
Their prayers have paid off. In recent months, Sunday
school attendance at the church has boomed from 85 in 1996
to more than 150. Average attendance in worship services has
grown from 110 to 160, filling the sanctuary to its
This growth has filtered to nearly all areas of the
church. The youth group has grown from 11 to 22 members and
the choir has doubled in size.
In the last three months, French has baptized six new
converts, three times the number of people baptized in 1996.
Five others are currently awaiting baptism.
“Prayer has totally changed our church,” said Keith
McMillan, bivocational youth minister. “Before last
February, Satan just seemed to have hold on our church. But
through prayer we’ve done a 360-degree turn, growing both
numerically and spiritually. It’s just awesome; you can see
it on the faces of every member.
“I thought I had known the power of prayer, but not
like this,” McMillan said. “Through the prayer partners and
the church’s commitment to prayer, I’ve learned prayer is
the key to everything.” According to McMillan, the church
soon plans to initiate a ladies prayer partner program. “Our
ladies are seeing the change in their husbands and how
prayer has given us a hunger to know God better. They want
in on it, too.”
French’s commitment to prayer recently won him approval
by the Chipola Baptist Association. During their annual
meeting in October, he was named prayer coordinator for the
45 churches and missions as they kick off their 1998
“Partners in Prayer” emphasis.

    About the Author

  • Stella Anderson