Jenis James Grindstaff, who is in his 80s and on hospice care in South Carolina, just had his last wish fulfilled: to be baptized by immersion. The Facebook video of Jenis’s baptism has gained over 200,000 views.
“I’ve always loved Jesus,” said Jenis, whose son Jim came down from Ohio for the event. Jim told WLTX 19 that his father has “always read the Bible, but he had never been baptized. He wanted to show he believed more than anything else.”
Jenis James Grindstaff’s Final Request
Jenis Grindstaff lives with his son, Craig, and his daughter-in-law, Pam, under the care of Spartanburg Regional Hospice Home in Spartanburg, South Carolina. When he let the hospice team know that he wanted to be baptized before he died and that he did not want the water sprinkled, Chaplain Terrell Jones says she thought, “We’re going to make this happen.”
Because of Jenis’s physical limitations, he could not be baptized at his home or in a traditional baptismal pool. The hospice team’s solution was to use a 60-gallon tub with a seat and a door that allows patients to walk into it and sit down. The hospice special needs fund made it possible for the elderly man to be transported from his own home to the hospice home for the baptism. Nicholas Hagood, who helped with the transportation, said he was surprised when he heard the request was for a baptism. “When we read ‘baptism,’ we said, ‘Whoa,’” said Hagood. “We rarely see that.”
Jones was the main chaplain who performed the baptism, and she began by saying, “My beloved son, Jenis James Grindstaff, I now at this time baptize you in the name of the Father, Son, and of the Holy Ghost and in Jesus’ name.” She then helped Jenis lean forward and put his face into the water while a second chaplain, Katie Harbin, poured water over his back and head. “Amen, hallelujah,” said Jones as Jenis sat back up. “Come on and let’s celebrate family!” As those present applauded, Jenis said, “That felt good.”
When the baptism was over, the hospice team washed Jenis’s hair, oiled his skin and massaged his feet. “It’s about our patients’ wishes,” said Jones. “We’re grateful to honor Mr. Grindstaff’s wishes.”
Jenis told WYFF 4 that during his lifetime, he had served in the Navy at Guantanamo and also was an air traffic controller for 25 years. But despite his love for and faith in Jesus throughout the years, he had never been baptized. “The rest of his family, his brothers and sisters, have been baptized,” said his son Craig, “and for some reason or another, he just never got around to getting it done.” Now that it has been done, Jenis said he would like to spend some time drawing while he imagines what heaven will be like.
“Being able to honor wishes like this baptism is heartwarming,” said hospice home nurse manager Tameka Irvin. “Seeing that smile on his face fills my heart with joy.”
“It was really good,” Jenis said about the experience. “If I reach one person, it’s a great deal.”