Even as he battles brain cancer, former US president Jimmy Carter remains committed to fulfill his day-to-day duties. In particular, he does not want to miss preaching at the Maranatha Baptist Church in his Plains, Georgia, hometown.
Carter, who will turn 91 on Oct. 1, has preached at the church for over 35 years and maintained a steady number of churchgoers. But ever since he announced that he is battling cancer, the crowd ballooned, with some people like Lynne Fallow and her daughter Chapin driving all the way from South Carolina to Carter's church just to hear him speak, according to CBS News.
The line of church attendees starts forming hours before his service. Jan Williams, who manages crowd control, said that it must be because of Carter's charisma.
"Mr. Jimmy is one of the kindest Southern gentlemen, who speaks what he thinks, stands up for what he believes in," Williams said. "Every Sunday that he teaches, he has a very good possibility of making a tremendous difference in somebody's life now and their future afterlife."
Carter usually begins his sermon with an update on his health. So far, he has received four treatments of immunotherapy already.
Williams added that Carter loves the crowds, and that is why he ends each lesson with a photo session. "I don't think once you're a politician you ever get over being a politician," Williams noted. During his recent service, Carter had to sit down upon doctors' orders while the crowd had their pictures taken with him.
Some church attendees, such as Ken and Jan Bryant don't normally go to Maranatha Baptist Church, but they decided to go last Sunday so they could have a moment with the former president.
"We said, oh, we can't miss out on that opportunity. That's just something we have to do. That's a once-in-a-lifetime thing," the Bryants said.