Snake-handling preacher dies from rattlesnake bite in West Virginia

West Virginia preacher Mark Randall “Mack” Wolford, who believed Christians should handle snakes to test their faith, died after a rattlesnake bit him over the weekend.  Wolford was bitten on the thigh about 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon, but he didn’t come to the hospital until 10:30 p.m., a nursing supervisor at Bluefield Regional Medical Center told the Charleston Daily Mail. The incident occurred during an outdoor service at Panther State Forest, about 80 miles west of Bluefield in southern West Virginia, the paper said. Wolford had turned 44 on Saturday. He had seen his father die of a snakebite when he was teenager, the Daily Mail reported. The Washington Post Magazine had profiled Wolford in a story in November about the snake-handling faith. The Post said adherents cite 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.” More


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45 Responses to Snake-handling preacher dies from rattlesnake bite in West Virginia

  1. Ms Murl says:

    God gave us a brain……………………Some people twist…….God’s words……..I love the Lord, and I trust him……… he also gave me the knowledge that rattlesnakes have deadly……stay away from them, and do not make a fool of yourself!!!!

  2. Bishop Jo Maji says:

    I dont think anybody need be bothered by this news, God has just invited him to come and interprete the book of Mark 16:17 well. After that he will know the response God has for him as regarding misrepresentation of Gods Supreme Word. The Insanity of the end times

  3. Austin Wilson says:

    I hope everyone knows we were given a brain for a freaking reason. And god does create miracles, do not get me wrong, but this so called religion sounds as if you believe in god, he will protect you from the snakes venom, but honestly you are actually testing god by seeing if he will protect you after you made a full knowing stupid decision. We do not test god and what he does, he tests us. For example, he tested this man to see if he had any lick of sense to not hold a dang snake, and obviously the man failed.

  4. ok, so here’s the issue…this verse is not about behavior in the church, it is about God protecting Christians from danger….also, it doesn’t say that Christians will be protected from every type of danger….the Bible says it rains on the just and the unjust…there is a time for life and a time for death….what the Bible is trying to say that the apostle’s were often going to be in real danger and as long as God was moving in their lives and had a specific plan for their lives, they would be kept from danger…however, just like Jesus, many disciples have a purpose of martyrdom…God sometimes leads us to a difficult death, but rewards us thousandfold in heaven….that’s a difficult truth to accept, but we can’t escape it…Jonah was kept in a belly of a giant fish for three days to get the hint to go evangelize in the right place at the right time….I remember hearing about the preacher who was going visiting and someone pulled a gun on him, the man tried and tried to fire the gun at the preacher…he couldn’t do it….he got really mad about it,….i believe he ended up storming off….there was also an African missionary woman who hit a lion with a frying pan, the lion ran off…here’s the point…God is going to give you protection from the real danger sent to you by Satan, gangster or lion or otherwise….God is not necessarily going to protect you from your own stupidity by making a drano/bleach cocktail and drinking it like orange juice any more than he is going to protect you from tempting fate by jumping in lion’s dens and teasing rattlesnakes. Maybe God allowed this to happen to show that this manmade doctrine is DEFINITELY not what God wanted in His Word. Also, there’s plenty of people who have surely been tricked into believing in this thing by snakes with poisonous sacs removed, snakes who have poisonous sacs but they have been made to empty their sacs by using them on mice or some random object, or switching labels or lying about mixtures, or inserting something in the mixture to counteract it….there’s many ways to be duped in churches…i believe in childlike faith, but I also believe in common sense and using logic in discerning God’s Word

  5. Reuben Rai says:

    God said in Genesis of the Bible, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
    Do this mean that I should go to the African bushes and beat the Lions?

    • Mike says:

      No, it means don’t mess with animals that can kill you. #1 this scripture you quoted was before the fall of man, and the curse. Also we don’t put God to the test. Before the curse, animals did not kill man, after the curse, all creation was made hostile to man. Cold, hot, poisons, diseases, etc. I like snakes, and have handled them when I worked for the conservation, but I’m no fool. The viper in (Acts 28:3), did fasten onto Paul hand, so they do bite. Also it was God that kept Paul, not man.

  6. YHVH our heavenly FATHER also gave us commonsense and to literally apply what this scripture teaches by handling snakes in the way that these churches do is asking for trouble, One does not go courting dangerous snakes any more than one would court a demon force that has manifested itself, they is pure spiritual suicide, AND l speak from experience as one of the Ministries that YHVH has called me to in the name of YESHUA is the Deliverance and Healing ministry and from my experience with satanic forces, l stand on the word of YHVH , on Mark 16: 17-20, (AND THESE SCRIPTURES ARE FOUND IN THE DIRECT TRANLATION OF THE ANCIENT GREEK INTO ENGLISH IN THE HEBREW / ENGLISH BIBLE) and also many other verses in the scriptures. just as l only speak to demon forces, when commanding them to leave in YESHUA’S name, the same applies to dangerous poisonous snakes, STAY CLEAR OF THEM..
    Don’t tempt the LORD your GOD>> SHALOM

  7. Ronnie James says:

    To the family of Mark Wolford, Baruch Dayan Emet.
    Pastor Ricky Scaparo, you “strive to operate in excellence and in Integrity to provide accurate and reliable sources to inform your readers.” yet, your Snake-handling preacher dies from rattlesnake bite in West Virginia happened in May 2012?
    On the road to ‘accurate and reliable’ Endtime Headlines™ has taken a major detour!

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  10. Sad the bible say RIGHTLY divide the word…The holy Spirit will assist you….

  11. Buck Rowe says:

    You dumb ass people dont you know if you fool with fire you get burnt ! So he got what he wanted to be bitten by it like his dad did and died to, all damm snakes should be killed, not handled and shook around and danced with, jeeze, here your sign…

  12. Kathy Wellman says:

    Judge not that ye be not judged. I grew up next door to a church that handled snakes and these were good, God fearing people. They only handled the snakes when they felt led of God. I don’t believe in handling them myself, but I respect those that do because they are not trying to tempt God, they are truly trying to show him their faith. Don’t judge them to harshly, because the bible also says that God’s ways are far above our ways and only God knows their hearts. My prayers go out to his family and friends.

  13. Lynn says:

    I do not believe in this but I think we should pray for this mans family and not judge him for the things he did.

  14. Amber B says:

    Oh and from what the Holy word of God says…there was many killed and persecuted for the name of Jesus. Likewise, Jesus said if you live for him you will be persecuted for his name sake. He said to pick up cross daily & follow after him. I sure aint in no popularity contest, we must live to please God and thats all that matters! #wemustsaleouttothisworld

  15. Amber B says:

    Im sorry if I have offended you with my opinion, seeing you feel the need to “there your sign” me, a relationship with God cant be explained, but only experienced. I pray you reach out to my awesome Jesus and come to know him in the free pardon of sin. I cant say why others do the things they do just like I cannot explain to you why I worship my Lord and savior the way I worship him…but that its in spirit and truth. God wants us to have our faith and trust in hin and not things of this world. These people that worship God in this manner do not please their selves in the flesh, they strive to live holy and pure lives before God and everybody else. All im saying is everybody wants to focus on the serpent handling, when they are the most loving people who try to preach the gospel and show others their faith so you in return will see how great our God is. Whether these people or dying they have sold out for the gospel when you have “Christians” these days who dont want to quit pleasing their own selves to do any work for the Lord. I never said God called his churches to do this but I did say I would be careful on what you call stupid or what not. These people get into the presence of almighty God and some churches dont handle every service. Again I never said God said to do this to come to heaven, but you shouldn’t judge others just bc what they do is differently than you in worship. Go to one of their churches and im sure you will feel the spirit of Almighty God. Need healed, the bible says let your Faith be unto you. Stephen and other disciples were labeled as veing “full” of the Holy Ghost. Theres always more to recieve from God than aitting on a church pew in complete silence! Come out of religion and I invite you to enter a relationship with Jesus Christ. Seek him like silver and gold n you will dind him ia what the word declares. So here’s your sign 🙂 Jesus is coming soon, get to know him and have a relationship before your left behind 😉 God bless

  16. John wheeler says:

    I knew this young man, we grew up together, I pastor a church that does not believe you have to handle serpents! I knew his beliefs and he knew mine we never fussed or argued about that difference. He was a fine person and one of my very best friends, he knew what he believed and was willing to die for it. I still love him and respect him. We may all believe different but no need to look down or speak bad about each other. We fished, hunted, talked and all the things real friends do, we lived, our lives as best we could, we lived for The Lord Jesus!! I really miss him, John wheeler

    • Amber B says:

      Yes! Absolutely! God is love…show love! 🙂
      ♥ you John!
      So sad how fast people will tear others down! 😦

  17. Tonia says:

    There is no accounting for the stupidity of others!! These people are just daring these snakes to bite them and then presuming on God to bale them out. Even Jesus said that you can’t do that!!! I just feel sorry for the kids that are growing up in this twisted belief system and will do the same thing when they grow up!!

  18. Francis Yeboah says:

    I think in exercising this Faith he should not have gone to the hospital at all. Enduring the pain and not giving in to fear could have worked the miracle. God bless and direct us in Jesus’ name.

  19. mlc says:

    And theres your sign! why would god want us to handle snakes and put our lives in danger.
    ss for the loss of a life.

  20. Amber B says:

    Actually some snake handeling churches do drink poison and some handle fire. Although I do not personally handle serpants, I would be careful in saying that something is not of God, or stupid. In saying this, there is power in the name of Jesus. These people who do handle snakes, you cannot say they are without faith. Paul said in his writings, faith without works is dead. If you have faith you will want to put it to use, if you said I have faith. Ok well you cant show me your faith. But if I say I can show you my works bc of my faith. You see many people scream from the rafters thats tempting God thats tempting jehovah, but how many other ways do we tempt him? Do we not tempt him by not trusting him? We tempt God in various ways without you even knowing. Whereas God is a merciful God and a loving God but my God is also demanding, hes great to be feared and respected. Theres many evil intentions in our heart that tempts God, the greatest being unbelief! When the children of Israel was in the wilderness they tempted God with their murmurs and complaints, how often we cry and complain around when something isnt the way we should think it to be. I like what Gamiliel told those that was wanting to persecute Jesus’ followers, he told them think about what your doing and he used an example of a docterine that was not of God that it had come to nothing, died all on its own. He said if its not of God it will come to nought, so I ask of you, dont go around saying these things are stupid and not of God bc you see God is everywhere. God inhabits the praises of his people and I can truly say these people let their faith rise, they press to live their lives for God and see others delivered and saved. I do believe in the Holy Ghost fire and its not antique folks, God is the same yesterday today and forever, theres so many religions that believe that was a thing of the past, recently I was told that hos church said they did that in the old testament. ..I beg to differ, the day of pentacost was life changing for the church (acts 2:38) many docterines have completely taken away the Holy Ghost, saying it was a thing in the past but no sir God is still God & he said its expedient for me to go away so the comforter will come! Why would the Lord take away the comforter? You must repent & believe the gospel! I didn’t kno this man personally but I know many who were close with him & he was a mighty man of God! You need to fear the Lord, br careful what you say bc you very well could be talking about the Holy Spirit! Just a thought, they say if someone is bitten that means there is sin in the camp. We must come out from sin come out amongst the world & be a separated people saith the Lord & then will I receive you!

    • Cindy Jo says:

      Very well wrtitten and explained Amber.

    • Paul says:

      Tragically, Amber, the churches you mentioned above that drink poison, handle fire and deadly snakes to prove how faithful they are, may profess to believe in Christ, yet their such deceived actions are not from the Holy Spirit. This pastor may have believed in our Lord Jesus but he was no mighty man of God because the fruit of his death. I get another red flag when you threaten anyone from judging those who follow such unbiblical manipulation. I implore you to listen to the real Holy Spirit and not the deceiving spirits that had this pastor in such bondage he lost his life. Amber you exhorted people not to call such antics stupid, when in fact they are evil. I ask you, are you a oneness (UPC) pentecostal? Because if you teach the lie the Son is the Father, the lie one must speak in tongues to be saved, and the lie one must be baptized only in the name of Jesus, then you are no christian at all. I’m praying for you, Paul

      • Amber B says:

        No I am not oneness, I strive to live my life according to the word of God & to please God! I am pentacostal but I do believe in a relationship with Jesus. Your not saved by your works but I want to help others be set free by the gospel…if your asking me to deny Jesus ill not do that, just label me Jesus everything bc it was the blood of Jesus that set me free. Im not into religion, the church I attend is actually non denomination! I am sorry you misunderstood my post but I do not believe one must speak in tongues to be saved or be baptized in the name of Jesus again those things are mere religion at its finest, rightfully judge by ones fruit, not what your opinion is. These ppl strive to live for God & so now ill ask you not to judge me for your misunderstanding. I listen to the real Holy Spirit, I personally dont believe to do it, but what I wss saying dont run them in the mud just bc you worship differently, your calling this evil, I was saying to fear God. So are they hurting you? The verse said these signs shall follow those that believe…if u dont believe dont do it. Alot of ppl are real quick to judge me saying im no Christian when u dont know me…sir im praying for you to come out from religion and have a relationship with Jesus!

      • Amber B says:

        And paul do you believe speaking in tongues is a “charismatic” movement & not of God?

    • Lewis says:

      It’s not of God and it’s stupid. Ignorant is probably the better term.

      • Amber B says:

        & that is your opinion…dont go to a snake handeling church! 🙂

      • mikje says:

        Really Lewis? Not of God wow how crazy that sounds…..the Bible says,( and you do believe the bible don’t you?) The Baptism of the Holy spirit means: the baptism with, by, in or of the Holy Ghost (holy spirit). is part of New Testament salvation. John 3:5: Romans 8:1-16, I Corinthians 12:13, Ephesians 1:13-14, Titus 3:5… In Acts of the bible the terms Baptized, filled, received, fell on, came upon, and poured out the gift on, all describes this experience.. in the book of acts it is promised to all who believe in Jesus and obey him….now speaking in tongues means speaking supernaturally, as the spirit gives the utterance. in a language the person has never heard (Acts 2:1-11). don’t tell me its stupid! to me that’s Blasphemy of the Holy Ghost, (not good)…Speaking in tongues is of God my friend. The bible tells me I must repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus and receive the Baptism of the Holy Ghost with evidence of speaking in tongues…that’s the plan of salvation my friend….

  21. Snake handling Churches are legal here in West Virginia, but the Bible does not give a mandate that Christians or Churches handle snakes. They use the passage in Mark 16:18 where Jesus said “They shall take up Serpents” but He also said “and if they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them;” Yet they ignore that statement and you don’t see them drinking Drano in their services. Many Theologians say to be very careful basing doctrine on Mark 16:17-20, as it does not appear in early Greek Manuscripts, only in later Manuscripts. “Snake handling”, as well as “Foot Washing” is not a Church ordinance, such as is the Lord’s Table and Baptism. Jesus makes it very clear,”Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Matt 4:10). Unfortunately, this is what this “Preacher” did….

  22. Suzanne Utts says:

    This is a sad example of people not knowing when to apply a verse in the spiritual sense rather than the literal. We are able to overcome the snake/satan in the power of the Holy Spirit. We are not to be stupid and actually hold poisonous snakes.

    • I agree with you about this. Why do we feel we must do these outrageous acts in order to demonstrate that we love God? This is what the Scripture says we should do: “He has shown thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of you–but to do justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God.” Micah 6:8

  23. Snake handling is tempting God and one of the most lame things I have ever seen man do!

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  25. timloyal says:

    Reblogged this on Psalm 46 Church.

  26. SAMUEL says:

    The Bible warned us not to tempt YHWH our GOD. I wonder what will the preacher gain by handling snakes.We are commanded to go into the world and preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of YHWH GOD and not to play with snakes. See Mathew 28:.18 – 20

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