Discipleship can begin when we least expect it.
A calm and caring response from Pastor Adrian Rogers, displayed during a stressful time, was all Blake Krumalis needed to be wooed to church, introduced to Jesus, discipled, and pointed toward a life of faithful service.
It was Sunday, June 17, 1979. Adrian Rogers, the southern preacher with the trusted voice and the trademark simplicity had just been elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention. The report from the Baptist Press described the scene that Sunday this way:
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (BP)—A bearded 21-year-old white man with disheveled hair and shirt open to the waist accosted Adrian Rogers during his first appearance in the pulpit since his election.
Rogers was preaching a televised sermon on "The Christian's Relationship with this World" when the assailant, shouting at the top of his voice, bounded through a side door and leaped onto the platform. …The assailant struck Leonard Garland, a choir member and former "Golden Gloves" champion who leveled him with a roundhouse left.
The new SBC president said he finished his sermon and more than 40 persons responded to the altar call. "God uses the axe that the devil sharpens," Rogers explained (clearly speaking of the attack; not of the attacker himself).
The sermon Pastor Rogers preached that day with his actions is what impressed young Blake Krumalis.
“I’m just this teenage boy watching TV, and this comes on the local news. I remember the person being on the ground and Dr. Rogers had knelt down to just talk with the man and Dr. Rogers was praying with him. That made a real impression on me.”
Fast forward a few months to the following Easter. Blake’s mother and sister had started going to church on Sundays, but Blake and his dad preferred to polish their golf games. “Mom wanted all of us to go to church on Easter Sunday and I said, ‘Let’s go to the church with the pastor who prayed for his attacker. That looks like an interesting place to go.”
So the Krumalis family donned their Sunday best and arrived early at Bellevue Baptist Church, then at 70 N Bellevue Street in Memphis.
“We go in, and Pastor Rogers was teaching the pastor’s discovery class which was ‘What Every Christian Ought to Know.’ So, they just ushered us into the class, and he had 15 or 20 minutes left in his lesson and I remember just being so drawn to his voice and the way he put things that a 16-year-old could understand. So, we stayed for the 10:30 service and really loved it. We heard the choir, and I was just blown away.
“So, we started going to the church. I didn’t get saved right off the bat, but he created a hunger in me to read the Bible. My dad got a Bible too and we started going to church together and through (Pastor Rogers’) preaching and different things God was doing in our lives, me and my dad walked the aisle together three or four months later. God used Dr. Rogers in a major way to create a hunger in a young man’s heart.”
Blake completed the “What Every Christian Ought to Know” discipleship curriculum and became involved in college and career choir led by Dr. Jim Whitmire. He grew as a Christian and as a musician, playing the part of Joseph in the church’s singing Christmas tree performances for five years. After completing training at Mid-America Theological Seminary, Blake was one of three young men ordained in 1990 in the first ordination service conducted at Bellevue’s current location on Appling Road in Memphis. Pastor Rogers served as a reference for Blake when he took his first music pastor position in Winter Park, Florida.
Since then, Blake, now 58, has been in ministry in Arkansas, North Carolina, and, for the past 12 years, at Longview Heights Baptist Church in Olive Branch, Mississippi. Blake and his wife, Amy, have two sons, Daniel and Stephen, and two grandchildren, Landry and Ezra. Blake’s sister, Rhonda Inman, served as a secretary to Dr. Whitmire for several years, and his niece, Bailey Inman, serves on the broadcast ministry team at Love Worth Finding. Blake’s entire family—the one he grew up in and the one that will follow behind—pursues God… all, in part, because of one man’s quiet and gentle testimony during a sudden attack in 1979.
“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering” (Colossians 3:12).
“Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand” (Philippians 4:5).