Campbell Co. pastor speaks out about friend's snake bite death

Campbell Co. pastor speaks out about friend's snake bite death

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Hamblin was there when his mentor and fellow snake-handling preacher, Jamie Coots, was bitten. Hamblin was there when his mentor and fellow snake-handling preacher, Jamie Coots, was bitten.
"I'm not one bit ashamed of what I do or what I believe in, and I'll never be ashamed of it and I'll never stop," Hamblin said. "I'm not one bit ashamed of what I do or what I believe in, and I'll never be ashamed of it and I'll never stop," Hamblin said.

By WHITNEY GOOD
6 News Reporter

LAFOLLETTE (WATE) - Campbell County Pastor Andrew Hamblin, well-known for handling snakes during his church services, is talking about the death of his long-time friend and mentor.

Pastor Jamie Coots died last Saturday from a rattlesnake bite during a service at his church in Middlesboro, Kentucky.

Hamblin was there when it happened.

He said Coots was like a dad to him and he is still in shock over what happened, but he also said Coots' death does not rattle his beliefs.

In fact, he and Coots' family handled snakes at a private in-church wake after the pastor's funeral.

"I'm not one bit ashamed of what I do or what I believe in, and I'll never be ashamed of it and I'll never stop," Hamblin said.

He said last Saturday's church service at Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name church in Middlesboro began as many of their normal services do.

They felt called to handle snakes.

"We do it as a sign from God. God moving through us just like with healing, speaking in tongues, casting out devils, anything," Hamblin said.

Hamblin said his friend, mentor and father figure, Jamie Coots, pastor of that church, was handling three snakes. Nothing was out of the ordinary, but things quickly took a turn for the worse.

"I just seen, seen him do that, just flex his hand like, and I thought maybe one had just, maybe they had just slid out of his hand," Hamblin said.

Coots had been bitten by a rattlesnake.

Hamblin said it did not take long to realize something was terribly wrong, but there was nothing they could do.

Coots had always asked not to receive medical attention for snake bites.

"He never said he wouldn't never go to a doctor. He just said it was serpent bite, and when you make a vow to God you don't break that vow for anything. If you do you've lied and to lie is sin," said Hamblin.

Within a few short minutes, Hamblin said Coots was dead, his last words still ringing in Hamblin's ears.

"He turned around and he looked at me, and he said 'Sweet Jesus,'" said Hamblin.

It was unexpected, but not something to make Hamblin and Coots' family change their practices.

"We believe and preach it was appointed by a man once to die. We all have a death date. The only difference between us and other Christians is we take that literal interpretation and we lay our life down," said Hamblin.

Hamblin said he was planning to go to the service at Coots' family church Saturday night. He also said he and Coots' family are amazed at the amount of support they have seen from their communities.

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