Our Pastor

Click to watch A Tribute to Pastor Sam, Pastor Sam's 20th anniversary at Packs Branch Baptist Church appreciation video. This video was made by Cheryl Stover to be presented to our Pastor at his 20th anniversary dinner on April 4th, 2009.

What better way to describe our Pastor than to use his own words. Following are excerpts from his personal testimony that he penned down a few years ago.

....My name is Samuel Graham Vance, born in a coal mining camp to Marion Dale Vance and Oma Wise Rasnake Vance on May 18th, 1941 at Bishop, McDowell county, West Virginia. I have five brothers and four sisters. My dad worked all of his adult life in a West Virginia coal mine; my mother was a homemaker and also had a few jobs outside the home. I can never remember our home being happy and very little, if any Bible teachings....

....I had plenty of teaching and training in the ways of Satan. He was the prince of our home with drunkenness, immorality, and constant cursing, aruing and fighting. My mother tried to hold things together such as food to eat, clothes to wear, and a home in which to live. My dad worked hard, but sometimes the drunkenness went on into the workweek. I remember drinking booze as early as the age of six....

....I left home at the age of 16 to stay with my sister, Jean, and her husband, Arnold, in Toledo, Ohio, and to go to Macumber High School, a vocational school. All the kids in my family left at an early age....

....I graduated from high school in June 1959 and landed a decent job in an automotive machine shop. I began to have the things I thought were necessary to make me happy in life - cars, girls, booze, and partying. But, nothing seemed to ever satisfy me. There was still a void in my life....

....in the summer of 1961, I was introduced to Delma Ann Bowyer, a young lady from Beckley, West Virginia. We dated for a little over a year and was married on October 1, 1962. I thought, "Surely this is all I need: a beautiful wife and a good job. Now everything is complete."....

...After almost 11 years of marriage, on June 19, 1973, Stacie Juanita, our beautiful daughter was born. As we were leaving the hospital to take her home, a guard there asked if he could see our new baby...

....I can still remember his words. He said, "And some people say there is no God. Who made that precious baby?" Well, you see, I thought I had! Those few words spoken by that guard stuck in my mind as a witness for God....

....On May 4, 1975, 22 months later, our darling baby boy, Samuel Dale, was born - the perfect American family, some would say. Yet, I continued to self-destruct....

....I had reached a point of desperation on August 24, 1975....

....I intended to end my life that night, but God had different plans....

....I walked out into the upstairs hallway of my home and cried out to God Almighty. He led me to the telephone about 2 a.m. on August 25, 1975....

....I called Bob and Debbie in Harper, West Virginia. They got on the phone and I asked how to be saved. They took me down Roman's Road (Romans 3:10, 23)(6:3)(5:8)(Romans 10:9,10,13). I said a sinner's prayer, repented of my sins, and was gloriously born into the family of God....

....I had been jailed three times for drunk driving, had wrecked several times, been to a so called alcoholic's school, and had even been to a psychologist who told me there was no hope for my drinking. I had a refrigerator full of beer and a wet bar, but thanks to God, "Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world." I have never touched another drop since that night....

....That morning I took a couple of showers. I didn't sleep much and by 9 a.m. I was ready to go to the Potomac Baptist Church....

....Two weeks after being saved and baptized, Tom asked me to be his soul winning partner. I began a ministry that is dear to my heart to this day....

....Two years later (1977-78), I found myself in Bible College. I didn't finish, but knew God was working in a mysterious way. We attended Mt. Tabor Baptist Church where I had grown so much in the Word....

....My work took me to Athens, West Virginia, in June 1979. We became members of Mt. Jackson Baptist Church. I stayed there almost 10 years and served in every position in the church except Pastor....

....I submitted to God's call to preach in May 1982. The devil and all the demons of Hell tried to discourage me. I was still working and was Assistant Pastor from 1983 to 1989 there at Mt. Jackson Baptist Church....

....Then God called us to Packs Branch Baptist church in January 1989. This is a small work outside Beckley where God has truly blessed. When we first arrived at the church, we didn't have water or land that belonged to the people. We would haul two loads of water each month for $65 each to operate the bathrooms. We seated less than a hundred people, with far fewer faithfully attending....

....God blessed and gave us 11 acres of land, city water, a brand-new church building that seats 250, out in the middle of nowhere....

....Do you remember where He brought me from? The Vance name in Bishop, West Virginia, wasn't much. People would say, "His daddy is a drunkard; there's not much to that Vance family. They probably won't amount to anything and will end up in jail or die drunkards.

Thank God there is a new name written down in Heaven and it's mine. Praise His Holy Name!....


To download the complete text of When The Lord Reached Down For Me! - The Life Story of Samuel Vance - click here.

If you would like a written copy of 'When The Lord Reached Down For Me! - The Life Story of Samuel Vance', please send your request to:

Packs Branch Baptist Church
Route 1, Box 28 Mt. Hope, WV 25880
Sam Vance, Pastor

(304) 877-3506 - Office (304) 877-5902 - Home