'Serpent-Handling' West Virginia Pastor Dies From Snake Bite

Puas yog pastor yuav muab nab los teev hawm Vajtswv ne? kuv pom muaj
ib pab ntseeg Vajtswv tau muab nab los hawm Vajtswv rau hauv church
thiab, nej leej twg puas pom li hais los no dua.

'Serpent-Handling' West Virginia Pastor Dies From Snake Bite
ABC NewsBy ARLETTE SAENZ | ABC News – 9 hrs ago


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'Serpent-Handling' West Virginia Pastor Dies From Snake Bite (ABC

'Serpent-Handling' West Virginia …

A "serpent-handling" West Virginia pastor died after his rattlesnake
bit him during a church ritual, just as the man had apparently watched
a snake kill his father years before.

Pentecostal pastor Mark Wolford, 44, hosted an outdoor service at the
Panther Wildlife Management Area in West Virginia Sunday, which he
touted on his Facebook page prior to the event.

"I am looking for a great time this Sunday," Wolford wrote May 22,
according to the Washington Post. "It is going to be a homecoming like
the old days. Good 'ole raised in the holler or mountain ridge
running, Holy Ghost-filled speaking-in-tongues sign believers."

Robin Vanover, Wolford's sister, told the Washington Post that 30
minutes into the outdoor service, Wolford passed around a poisonous
timber rattlesnake, which eventually bit him.

"He laid it on the ground," Vanover said in the interview, "and he sat
down next to the snake, and it bit him on the thigh."

Vanover said Wolford was then transported to a family member's home in
Bluefield about 80 miles away to recover. But as the situation
worsened, he was taken to a hospital where he later died.

Jim Shires, owner of the Cravens-Shires Funeral Home in Bluefield,
told ABC News that Wolford died Monday. Wolford's church, the
Apostolic House of the Lord Jesus in Matoaka, will host a viewing
Friday and a funeral service Saturday morning. Wolford will be buried
at the Hicks Family Plot in Phelps, Ky.

Officials at the Panther Wildlife Management Area had been unaware of
Sunday's event until they were notified by callers after the service.

"We did not know that this event was happening, and if we had known
about it or if we had been asked for permission, permission would not
have been granted," Hoy Murphy, public information officer for the
West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, told ABC News.

Hoy said West Virginia state park rules prohibit animals other than
dogs and cats on the property.

While snake-handling is legal in West Virginia, other Appalachian
states, including Kentucky and Tennessee, have banned the practice in
public spaces.

Snake-handlers point to scripture as evidence that God calls them to
engage in such a practice to show their faith in him. Mark 16: 17-18
reads, "And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name
shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. They
shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall
not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall

Wolford told the Washington Post magazine in 2011 that he is carrying
on the tradition of his ancestors by engaging in snake handling.

"Anybody can do it that believes it," Wolford said. "Jesus said,
'These signs shall follow them which believe.' This is a sign to show
people that God has the power."

Wolford said watched his own father die at the age of 39 after a
rattlesnake bit him during a similar service.

"He lived 101/2 hours," Wolford told the Washington Post Magazine.
"When he got bit, he said he wanted to die in the church. Three hours
after he was bitten, his kidneys shut down. After a while, your heart
stops. I hated to see him go, but he died for what he believed in.

"I know it's real; it is the power of God," Wolford told the
Washington Post Magazine last year. "If I didn't do it, if I'd never
gotten back involved, it'd be the same as denying the power and saying
it was not real."