JACKSON — Adrian Knipper loves the Lord, and he loves people. As a pastor for almost 30 years, Knipper has visited, counseled and prayed with many people.
In 2017, Knipper retired as pastor of Porter’s Creek Baptist Church in Middleton after an extended illness left him homebound and confined to a wheelchair. At the time, he had no idea that his prayer ministry was about to multiply exponentially.
“(The prayer ministry) started slow,” Knipper said. “I was in and out of the hospital for about a year in 2015 and 2016. When I was in the hospital, a lot of folks came and prayed for me. … I got to thinking about it and decided when someone asked me for prayer, I would say ‘Let’s pray now.’ ”
But Knipper’s extended illness took a toll. Confined to a wheelchair, he realized he no longer had the strength to pastor his church. His recovery took time, but his commitment to pray for others didn’t waver.
“After I got home, two men from our church helped me and my wife get to and from our doctor’s appointments. We always had prayer together. Any time I heard somebody was sick or going through something, I’d call them and say, ‘Let’s have prayer,’ ” Knipper said.
In 2019, the couple’s everyday prayers began to multiply. Knipper keeps a log of the people he prays with. While many are from the local area, he has also prayed for people as far away as Mississippi, North Carolina, Texas and Florida.
“The first year, 2019, I prayed with 525 people over the telephone,” Knipper said. “In 2020, I prayed with 631.” By 2021, Knipper had prayed with 903 people, and so far in 2022, he has prayed with more than 753 people.
“I’ve seen God answer prayer,” Knipper affirmed.
“I’ve seen evidence of how God responds to sincere prayer. … Through my sickness — even though God didn’t bring me where I wanted to be or where I thought I should be — I know God was at work to lead me to do other things, like this prayer ministry … God has worked in my life and worked things out.”
Diane Goodman is the secretary of Porter’s Creek Baptist Church. She has known Knipper since the late 1980s. She says prayer is nothing new to Knipper.
“He was always one to visit the hospitals,” and he didn’t hesitate to introduce himself to patients and families and offer to pray with them, Goodman said. “That’s how the church grew.”
When Knipper’s illness prevented him from visiting, “the next best thing was getting on that telephone,” Goodman said. “We’ve always known he was praying for us.”
Wayne South, who along with Bill Boyd, continues to help Knipper and his wife, Peggy, get to medical appointments and preaching engagements agrees that prayer is foundational to Knipper’s ministry.
“We used to take him to Nashville to see his doctors,” South said. “People would call him and ask for prayer, and we would pull over on the side of the road and pray for them. … I’ve never met a pastor as loving as he is.”
South says Knipper’s example has been a model for him and the church. “He’s made a prayer warrior out of me, and we have more prayer warriors in the church than ever before,” South said.
Like South, Boyd began praying with Knipper after driving him to medical appointments in 2016, but he has been on the receiving end of Knipper’s prayers for nearly 30 years.
“Anytime we need him for anything, we can always call on him,” Boyd said. B&R — Lovell has written about Baptist work for more than 20 years. She lives in Spring Hill.