Rev. Kyle Lake
The theme of the final prayer delivered last week by a Christian pastor who was electrocuted during a baptism was, ironically, “Surprise me, God.”
That disclosure came this morning on the national radio program, Coast to Coast AM, by Terry Esau, author of “Surprise Me, a 30-Day Faith Experiment,” who had been invited to speak at the University Baptist Church in Waco, Texas.
During a service last Sunday morning, Rev. Kyle Lake was standing in waist-high water as he prepared to baptize a woman. When he reached for a corded microphone, the 33-year-old was jolted by electricity, and did not survive. The woman going to be baptized was unharmed.
The incident took place just minutes after the 800 members in attendance had prayed aloud, “Surprise me, God.”
When asked if he thought the events were result of asking to be surprised, Esau, who witnessed the electrocution, said, “I wish I could answer that. I honestly, truly don’t know. That gets you into all kinds of really, really hard questions. ‘Does God cause everything to happen?’ or ‘Is there tragedy and chaos and stuff in the world because it’s the natural consequences of humankind and our freedom of choice?’”
Esau speculated on what Lake could have said about the stunning event, wondering if the young pastor might have quoted from a well-known bumper sticker reading “[Garbage] Happens.”
“I think he would have said, ‘There are laws of nature, electrical laws, and they were violated that day and I was in a really bad place where the violation happened.’”
Esau addressed some 4,000 Baylor University students the following day, and invited them to question and wrestle with what happened, saying God is not intimidated by our questions, though Esau couldn’t explain why the tragedy occurred.
“I see a lot of people who are going, ‘You know, we don’t know how long we get to live. And maybe I should take more seriously this day that I have. Maybe I should look more at what is the purpose of my life. Who is God? How does He fit in with me? What’s my story? What is our story? Where do we go from here?’
“If people can start wrestling with these questions instead of just putting their lives on cruise control and saying, ‘It is what it is, I need to make money, I need to be comfortable,’ then I think good has come from it. I think Kyle would be pleased with that.”
University Baptist Church has posted part of Lake’s final sermon on its website, as he wrote:
Live. And live well. Breathe. Breathe in and breathe deeply. Be present. Do not be past. Do not be future. Be now. On a crystal clear, breezy 70-degree day, roll down the windows and feel the wind against your skin. Feel the warmth of the sun. … Taste every ounce of flavor. Taste every ounce of friendship. Taste every ounce of life. Because it is most definitely a gift.
The church is now raising funds for Lake’s family, as Kyle is survived by his wife and three children.
Churches across America are discussing safety issues when it comes to baptisms, with some experts saying pastors should use only wireless microphones when performing full-immersion baptisms.