Chris Pelly is in the fight of his life.
Mr. Pelly works as director of the McDuffie County Roads and Bridges Department and recently learned that he has liver cancer.
A special laying of hands prayer service was held for Mr. Pelly at The Cowboy Church, located at Old Frontier near Thomson last Sunday morning. Chris Smith led the service, offering special healing prayers for God to rid the cancer that has invaded the body of Mr. Pelly in recent weeks.
"Rebuke any evil spirits and lift him up and be with the doctors," said Mr. Smith.
Several members of the congregation, as well as family, friends and co-workers participated.
"Chris has been plugged in out here for about two years," said Mr. Smith. "One day he came up to me and said, 'I want to be one of the spokes out here."'
Mr. Smith said ever since then Mr. Pelly had been a servant of God at the Old Frontier, which also serves as a Christian retreat for area young people.
"This is a surprise," said Mr. Pelly after seeing so many friends and co-workers gather to worship with him. "I'm sure Susan Smith had something to do with all of this. Thank ya'll for being here. I really appreciate it a lot."
Mr. Pelly told those attending the service that he wasn't afraid of dying if that was God's plan, "because I know where I'm going."
He also emphasized how important it was for those attending the worship service to take something with them when they left.
"Share the love of Jesus Christ," said Mr. Pelly.
For the past eight years, Mr. Pelly, who lives in the Raysville Community, has worked for the county. After becoming a re-born Christian about two years ago, Mr. Pelly became heavily involved in Old Frontier and is now a radio celebrity on the weekly show dubbed The Cowboys and Knot Head Show that airs over WTHO-FM.
"I can't tell you what an impact this place (Old Frontier) has had on Chris Pelly," said McDuffie County IT Director Kelly Evans, whose husband, Butch and two children also attended the church service last weekend. "Getting to know Jesus Christ changed his life. He hasn't been the same man in the last 18 months."
Butch Evans said it seemed as though Mr. Pelly lacked faith until about a year and a half ago.
"He's definitely got it now," said Mr. Evans.
Mrs. Smith, who has served as Mr. Pelly's secretary for the past eight years, sent out emails to dozens of county employees, as well as elected officials in McDuffie County and Thomson last week, urging them to support her boss at last weekend's special worship service.
"He's an exceptional boss, a good man and we all love him," said Mrs. Smith.
Several of the men who work under Mr. Pelly also attended the service and talked about their boss.
"He's a great boss," said Tim Steed. "I'm here to support him with prayer."
Another employee there to do the same thing was Chuck Muller, who has worked under Mr. Pelly for nearly three years.
"He's an outstanding boss," said Mr. Muller. "He's very fair. I'm here to praise the Lord with him."
Stephen Sewell, assistant chief of the McDuffie County Fire/Rescue Services, said of his friend, "He's always there when somebody needs him."
Ricky Hunter, another one of Mr. Pelly's workers, said, "He's a real nice person. He's a real nice man. I hope he gets well soon."
Walter Dorsey, another worker, said, "He treats everybody right. I've never known of him to mistreat anybody. I want him to know that we all care about him a lot."
Stephanie Reeves, a second grade teacher at Thomson Elementary School and a member of The Cowboy Church, called Mr. Pelly "a true warrior of God."
Mark Bentley, who works with the Georgia State Patrol and a church member there, said, "Chris is one of the finest men that I've come to know. He's a real solid Christian."
Rusty Allen, who is helping to oversee the county roads and bridges department during Mr. Pelly's absence, said, "I think he's a real good fellow. I'm praying for him."
Another friend of Mr. Pelly's, Wayne McNeal, who works with the Thomson-McDuffie County Recreation and Leisure Services, said, "I'm praying for him to get well. He's a real easy fellow to get along with."