Pentecostal pastor Mark Randall “Mack” Wolford was one of the nation’s leading advocates of snake handling as an article of faith. Last Sunday, he sent a message to the faithful to join him at a state park for “homecoming like the old days” with “Holy Ghost-filled speaking-in-tongues sign believers.” Wolford then proceeded to handle snakes as a demonstration of the immunity given by God to those who believe. He was then bitten and died. It came 29 years after his father — another religious snake handler — died from a snakebite in 1983.
Wolford and others believe in the literal meaning of Mark 16:17-18
“And these signs will follow those who believe: in My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
This is only the latest such death among snake handlers — deaths that are quickly dismissed as due to a lack of faith or God decided to call a member home.
Wolford had written to followers “I am looking for a great time this Sunday . . . Praise the Lord and pass the rattlesnakes, brother.”
Wolford’s death came as he was passing a yellow timber rattlesnake (and apparent agnostic) around the congregation. He then laid it down on the ground and sat down next to it. The snake bit him on the thigh. Rather than go to a hospital, he was take to a house of one of the faithful. He had been bitten before, but this time it was fatal. After he was transported to the Bluefield Regional Medical Center, he was pronounced dead.
He was 15 when his Dad died in similar circumstances. Mack Randall had just turned 44 the day before.
Source: Bangor Daily News as first seen on Reddit.