Tragedies lead to salvations, baptisms in Hendersonville
By Scott Barkley
National Correspondent, Baptist Press
HENDERSONVILLE — Noah Iacob lived for only a week two years ago. But his story is interwoven with other stories as part of a revival taking place at Long Hollow Baptist Church.
Noah’s underdeveloped lungs became too much for his body to overcome. But after his death, his mother Jessie realized she needed the healing power of Christ in her life and, after becoming a Christian, was baptized at Long Hollow. Jessie, her son Zeke and husband Andrei began attending the church.
But Jessie’s earthly life ended Dec. 11 when she and her son were murdered by an intruder when Andrei wasn’t home. The suspect, identified as a former employee of the excavating business the couple founded, took his own life Dec. 13 after police had determined his location.
It is believed the suspect wanted Jessie Iacob, who operated the company’s finances, to transfer money into his account. After she complied, he shot her and her son anyway.
The heartache from such a story can lay heavy with anyone. But Andrei Iacob’s response after his wife and son’s funeral Dec. 19 has become part of a much larger story.
Realizing his own need for the gospel, Iacob talked with Pastor Robby Gallaty about accepting Christ and extended forgiveness to the deceased murderer.
He also asked others to pray for the man’s family, noting they had nothing to do with his actions.
Long Hollow had a baptism service scheduled Sunday (Dec. 20) for around 12 people. Gallaty asked Iacob if he would like to be added. Iacob agreed, but Jessie’s mother Wanda also wanted to be baptized after hearing Gallaty’s invitation at her daughter’s funeral.
Gallaty said Iacob’s reaction to a question reflects his understanding of eternity.
“I asked Dre if he was mad at the Lord for his family’s murder. He told me that he was actually thankful he wasn’t at the house. For had he been, he wouldn’t have been ready to meet God. ‘I’m going all-in for the Lord now,’ he told me.”
Due to a rapidly rising number of coronavirus cases in middle Tennessee, Long Hollow’s service Sunday was one of the lowest attended in his five years at the church, Gallaty added. However, at the end he felt led to ask anyone feeling led to come forward for baptism. By the close of service, 99 people had been baptized.
That’s not all. Word got back to Gallaty that people watching online had decided to be baptized in their bathtubs at home. On Dec. 21, the pastor made rounds to homes to do just that. To keep up with the requests, Long Hollow opened its doors the next day specifically for those wanting to be baptized.
As of Jan. 5, the total number of baptisms was at 225, said a member of the Long Hollow staff.
God is drawing people to Himself, but Gallaty also points to the impact of people’s testimonies in what he’s calling “a movement of God that I’ve never experienced.”
“One of those who got baptized was formerly in satanic worship. She didn’t think she could be saved because of all the horrible things she had done,” he said. “I told her that was a lie. The guy who brought her to our church had been a Satan worshiper for 10 years. I had baptized him and now he had brought her to the church.”
An officer who had worked the murder case joined those being saved and baptized. Two of his peers, members at Long Hollow, had been praying for him for years.
“People in our church have said they’ve never witnessed something like what’s going on right now,” Gallaty said.
In talking to Iacob about the death of Jessie and Zeke, Gallaty observed the name of the father’s son from two years ago.
“I told him how God had used Noah in the Old Testament to save a nation. For Dre, Noah had brought salvation to Jessie. Through her witness, her death brought salvation to Dre.”