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A. S. Petrey
Eastern Kentucky Baptist Missionary

      Petrey was born in Whitley County, Kentucky. He was born again at his home church on little Cane Creek. He was in the first graduating class of Cumberland College at Williamsburg. While he was at Cumberland College, his English teacher, Dr. Johnson, asked him to write an essay on John Bunyan. His teacher was impressed with his essay and told him that he had a definite impression that God wanted him to preach the glorious gospel of Christ. The words of his teacher stabbed him in his innermost heart, for he had been struggling with this decision. After he surrendered to preach, he expected to be pastor of a church with a least five hundred members. However, at the annual meeting of Mt. Zion association in Whitley County, a Mr. Prestridge brought a message on foreign missions. At the climax of his message he said, "Oh, brethren, pray God that He will lay His hands on Asbel Petrey and on some other young men here to carry the gospel to the needy foreign fields." Petrey saw his responsibility. to a lost world and in his heart he said, "Here am I, Lord, send me." The fascination of a large church vanished and he was willing to win souls anywhere.

      In the summer of 1897, some of Petrey's friends employed him to do evangelistic work in the mountain counties. One of the revivals he held was in the courthouse at Hazard which resulted in seventeen conversions. Baptists of the missionary kind had no church in Hazard. Just before he left Hazard, Dr. R. R. Baker and Pearl Combs told him that they had been praying much about a Baptist work in Hazard and begged him to come back and establish a church.

      The next day he started by wagon to Jackson where he would get a train to Winchester and from there by train he would return to Williamsburg. On his way to Jackson when they came to Lost Creek, the son of the Presbyterian pastor of Hazard pointed to some logs lying across stones in a shady nook and said, "That is the only Baptist church building in Perry County." Petrey had grown up in a community where everybody who was a member of any church was a Baptist. He could not stand the thought of so many people without a Baptist witness. Here was a vast land from London to Hyden, to Hazard, south to Whitesburg and west to Jackson and not a single Missionary Baptist Church on the highway.

      Petrey had a good position as a teacher in Cumberland College. He owned his own home near the college and was teaching teachers from ten counties. He told his wife of the great need in the Hazard area. After they had prayed about the challenge, they decided that it was God's will that they come to Hazard as missionaries. He resigned his teaching position and went to Hazard to make arrangements to move his family to Perry County. After an arduous journey, he arrived with his family in Hazard on February 10, 1898 when the French-Eversole war [feud] was coming to a close. Later he baptized survivors from both sides of that bloody war.


[The Kentucky Baptist Heritage Journal, Volume IX July, 1982 Number 1, p. 8; via Adam Winters, SBTS Archivist. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

Asbel Petrey
Kentucky Mountain Pastor

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