God uses murky waters to help atheist respond to gospel message
J.H. Grime (1851-1941) was a successful Southern Baptist pastor in the late 19th and early 20th century. He held numerous religious debates, authored several books (his History of Middle Tennessee Baptists and History of Valid Baptism are still consulted today) and edited a Baptist newspaper. Grime was also one of the few Baptists whose beard could rival B.H. Carroll’s.
Starting at the age of 25, Grime held 64 pastorates until finally his health forced him to retire at the age of 79. Among his pastorates were several Kentucky congregations, including Cave City Baptist Church, Glasgow Junction (now Park City) Baptist Church, Horse Cave Baptist Church and Upton Baptist Church.
Grime later recounted this story from his days in southcentral Kentucky …
Two young ladies were saved and presented themselves for church membership. Grime explained to them how they would now need to be scripturally baptized and how immersion was a picture of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Unfortunately at this time, few churches in Kentucky had indoor baptisteries. Worse yet, due to the summer drought, the creeks weren’t deep enough to baptize in. So in this case, the church used an old farm pond that was nearby. In the heat of summer, the pond had grown stagnant and filthy.
In this same community lived an atheist who had not darkened a church door in over 40 years. He knew both young ladies came from wealthy, cultured families and was curious if they would agree to be baptized in this dirty pond.
On the day of the baptism he walked down to the pond. The atheist listened as Grime first shared the gospel and then declared baptism was a command of Christ and the duty of every born-again believer. He watched as Grime led the two ladies into the water and baptized them. As they came out of the water, their white robes were stained with the mud and moss of the pond. Coming to the bank, both girls hugged their families and rejoiced.
As the atheist went back to his home, he wondered, “What made those girls do that? Why would two wealthy and cultured young ladies be willing to be baptized in such a nasty farm pond?”
He tried to eat, but the question still nagged his soul. He laid down to sleep but could not find relief.
“What did those girls have that he did not?” Finally at two o’clock in the morning, the atheist remembered the gospel message Grime had shared earlier. He fell to his knees, confessed his sins and trusted in Christ for salvation.
The next Lord’s Day, Pastor J.H. Grime and the congregation were surprised to see the man in attendance. They were even more shocked when the former atheist shared his experience of salvation and asked to join the church. He was received upon his profession of faith and was soon baptized in the very same pond as the two young ladies.
“…many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized” (Acts 18:8).
Ben Stratton is pastor of Farmington Baptist Church in Graves County and a Baptist historian with the J.H. Spencer Historical Society.