February 11, 2003
LEBANON – Steven Strauch, pastor of First Baptist Church, Conway, apparently escaped serious injury when he was stabbed in his church office on Thursday, February 6.
Strauch was treated in the local hospital emergency room for three stab wounds. Only one of the wounds required stitches. The pastor was released by the hospital after treatment.
According to Perry Wolfe, Director of Missions in the Laclede Baptist Association, Strauch was in his office when a transient walked in about 9:30 a.m.
“Apparently the man came in and asked for assistance,” Wolfe said. “The church is located only about a quarter mile off I-44. They get a lot of transients coming through asking for assistance.”
Wolfe, who spoke with Strauch after the incident, said the pastor was attempting to help the man. “Steven told the man that the church could provide food and fuel assistance, but did not give out money. He turned away from the man and was calling the nearby restaurant. While Steven was on the phone, the man attacked him. He evidently had a small knife.”
With the phone still connected to the restaurant phone, Strauch began fighting off his attacker and yelling for help. The restaurant worker heard Strauch yell, “This guy’s stabbing me.”
The restaurant employee called for medical and police help. The attacker, however, disappeared by the time police arrived.
“Steven was stabbed in the left hand and had a knife mark in his abdomen near his belt buckle,” Wolfe said. “He apparently also was thrown against a book case during the scuffle and hit his head. Steven didn’t even remember the man taking the billfold out of his pocket.”
Police found the billfold on the church parking lot.
Wolfe said the last week has been a series of traumatic events for Strauch.
He was involved in a one-vehicle accident last Saturday night while returning from a funeral home visitation at Buffalo. “Steven had spent the day at the Youth Quake in Bolivar and had stopped by the funeral home in Buffalo on the way home,” Wolfe said. “He was traveling on one of these narrow, blacktop roads when his wheel dropped off the pavement.
“He suffered head trauma in the accident and was airlifted to a Springfield hospital. He had been released from the hospital on Monday, and this happened on Thursday,” Wolfe said. “His congregation loves him and has been smothering him with kindness. We decided it would be best to place Steven in isolation for the weekend so he can get some rest.”
Schools had been canceled in Conway the day of the stabbing because of inclement weather. Strauch’s wife and children were in his home located only about 150 yards from the church. Nobody, however, saw the attacker.
The pastor described his attacker as a white male, very dirty with greasy, long dark hair, wearing a green or blue heavy work jacket and brown work gloves.
“We’re living in an age when you can’t even pick up a hitchhiker,” Wolfe said. “It’s bad. We’re living in bad times.”