Middlesboro, Ky. (WBIR) -- It's been two days since a Middlesboro, Kentucky, pastor was laid to rest after a snake he was handling bit him, and now his 21-year-old son said he is taking over the church and will continue to handle snakes.
Jamie Coots died Saturday night after a fatal snakebite at Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus' Name. Tuesday, family and friends said goodbye at Creech Funeral Home.
Cody Coots, Jamie's son, said following the wake, a smaller group went back to his father's church and handled snakes.
"I knew people were wanting to do church and we couldn't do that in the funeral home because that would be breaking the law," said Cody Coots. "I didn't want to disrespect the funeral home by saying 'hey, we're wanting to have snakes here.'"
While Coots has a permit to possess poisonous snakes, according to Kentucky law it is illegal to handle them, but Coots said it was one of his father's dying wishes to practice their faith until the end.
OFFICIALS: Pastor Jamie Coots refused medical care
"How many people can pray that that's how they wanted to die, and got exactly what they pray for? Not many," said Coots. "His next request was 'when you come to my funeral, pack my snakes, and handle them over my corpse.'"
Coots said his father was known as a fashionable, outspoken preacher who would have wanted his life celebrated with fire, speaking in tongues, and taking up serpents.
"He liked things to be styling and profiling. His coffin, they said 'that's a Cadillac coffin,'" said Coots. "It felt like he was here with us Tuesday night while we were taking up serpents next to him."
"We all took up serpents here at the mans' wake and funeral. I mean we don't quit," said Andrew Hamblin, a snake-handling pastor with Tabernacle Church of God in LaFollette, Tenn.
VIDEO: Pastor Andrew Hamblin speaks about Pastor Jamie Coots
Hamblin, who was mentored by Jamie Coots, was at the service Saturday night when Coots was bitten.
"He looked me right in the face, he looked at me and said 'sweet Jesus,'" said Hamblin. "He never opened his eyes, he never said another word."
The next day, Hamblin was back at his church in Tennessee, handling snakes.
"God moved on me and I took up serpents and I preached the 16th chapter of Mark and told them it was still real," said Hamblin, who said he and Coots had a father-son relationship.
"I've been there for Jamie whenever he's cried and he's been at his lowest points and he's been there for me at my lowest points," Hamblin said. "I had seen serpent handling on TV, but in real life he was the first man I'd actually seen take a serpent up. I handled my first serpent right here at this church straight out of his snake box. He handed my wife her first serpent."
Hamblin and the younger Coots said Jamie Coots didn't suffer.
"Usually people suffer for three or four days, they swell up, puke their guts up, start bleeding blood out of the mouth, he didn't do any of that," said Cody Coots. "He went peacefully. When they came over and pronounced him dead, he was sitting there looking like he was just sleeping."
Hamblin and Coots said despite another death caused by a poisonous snakebite, they will continue to practice their beliefs and preach that message.
"For me to step down on those things that he [my dad] taught me, I don't know if he would come back out of his grave and slap me clean across the face. That's how much he believed in it. I mean he was that strong in it. He believed in it enough he died for it, so I won't step down for anyone," said Coots.
Coots admitted that he has big shoes to fill. At a young age, he will now lead his church of about 20 people, on top of taking care of his own wife and child.
"I didn't want this. I told my dad, I said 'I don't want to be pastor. I've seen the way things have happened and I've seen things you have had to take care of. I don't want it.' He said, 'You're next in line. The lord is going to call you anyways.'"
Coots said he never got the chance to ask his father important questions, and is now praying for answers.
"I always told him to wait until he was 60 to die, and then I could take over the church," said Coots. "There are questions I don't know how to answer, and I sure don't have a solution for people's problems," he said.