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Walt Gartrell, one of the original founding members of Judah was a mighty man of God. From his birth God moved in many special ways to lead him to the ministry that he would eventually have. Raised by a single Mom who was a minister, he learned early on to trust in God for everything. He was an extremely talented young man. In his early teens he strayed from the church and started playing guitar on the Lawrence Welk Show, and has played with country greats Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and Don Rich. All the while he was running from God. His mother continued praying for her son until he came back to God. One night God showed him his hands and they were nothing but knubs, the fingers were all gone. God spoke to him and told him if he continued playing in the world he would lose his fingers.  He repented that night and gave his heart and life back to God. His mother was on her knees praying for him when he walked in. From that day he turned his life totally to Christ and began focusing on winning souls for Christ. He used his talents and his life for soul winning. Walt never met a stranger. He could play lead guitar like no one else. He could play upside down, could memic just about every great guitar player including Les Paul and Chet Atkins. In 1971 he fell in the tub and got a blood clot in his head. He was hospitalized to dissolve this. In the middle of the night the blood clot moved to his heart and he died. He described dying and going to Heaven. Jesus led him thru Heaven and showed him many things but told him but told him he couldn't stay. God had a work for him to do. He was then put back into his body. 6 weeks later he was back in the pulpit preaching and never slowed down. A few months later he married Brenda Wilkins. She was the daughter of Rev & Mrs. Woodrow Wilkins.


He and Brenda stayed busy ministering weeks on end with very little time off during their 32 years of marriage. They had a son, Paul Daniel who was born prematurely and only lived 16 days. God blessed them with a daughter named Deborah. Walter said "I've seen Heaven and I've seen Hell and you wouldn't want your worst enemy to go there". He often spoke to ministers who were going thru physical problems to NOT SLOW DOWN. He said "don't let fear keep you from the pulpit. We must win the lost at any cost. If you die in the pulpit, what a way to go!" He was the type of man you never forgot meeting. He was a true Southern Gentleman. He loved life and loved Jesus Christ. To him witnessing and winning souls was the greatest thing in life. He never let a day go by that he didn't make time to tell someone of Jesus. Whether he was playing his guitar, writing songs, or ministering in sermon, this was a mighty man of God who lived his life passionately. He never took anything for granted but lived every day with fervor and commitment to God. Even now as we minister across the nation people will walk up to us and tell us about something Bro. Gartrell did or said to them that they will never forgot. He made a difference. He was God's man of the hour. The heritage Walter Gartrell created during his life lives the continuing ministry of Judah.