Dr. John Remembers

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The photograph was taken in 1963 when I was a senior in medical school. Dr. Berry Moore Sr. on the left was the operating surgeon and was being assisted by his two sons; Dr. Berry Moore Jr. on the right and me, the tall, skinny one in the middle. To the best of my knowledge the patient survived!

I am currently the last of the 3 generations of Dr. Moore’s who practiced medicine in El Dorado, Arkansas. My grandfather, Dr. John Aaron Moore began his practice in 1898 and was joined by his son Dr. Berry Lee Moore Sr. in 1934. Dr. J.A. departed this life in 1943 and Dr. Berry Sr. continued in a solo practice until joined by his son Dr. Berry Lee Moore Jr. in 1957. Their practice of Family Medicine continued until 1966 when Dr. Berry Sr. departed this life. I became a physician in 1964 and continued in training to become a general surgeon. Following 2 years of active duty in the US Air Force, my family and I returned to El Dorado in 1971 when I began private practice in general surgery. My first office was with my brother, but because I had a referral surgical practice I moved my practice to join the Surgical Clinic of South Arkansas in 1974 while my brother continued in a solo general medical practice. I practiced in El Dorado until 1999, when I stopped doing general surgery; transitioned to a wound care practice and moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas to practice wound care at Washington Regional Medical Center. My brother practiced medicine until 2001 when he chose to retire to give home care to his wife LaNell who was diagnosed with a progressive dementia. On the date of his retirement, there had been a Dr. Moore practicing in El Dorado for a period of 103 years.

The purpose of this blog is to chronical the medical ministry of the Moore family to the people of South Arkansas for that 100 year period. I am recalling stories that my dad (Pop) told me of his years in training and his practice life before my brother joined him, and the few years they practiced together. From the time I began practice in 1971, the stories I relate are first hand.

In all of these accounts I purpose to show the hand of God in my life and in my family’s life. I want to recount how my life and practice was changed in 1977, when both my wife Cathy and I were born again into the Kingdom of God. We became radically different, and I began witnessing for Christ through the profession of medicine and surgery into which God had called me. In this effort and through this media, may Jesus Christ be honored and praised!

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“Thee I Love” — Part 3

Bride and Groom: Aug. 7, 1965

Our move to Branson, Missouri occurred in November, 2005, and Cathy and I bought a new home in the Branson North subdivision, a short 5 minute drive from the hospital. For the first time in our married life I was regularly able to have lunch at home with her. Our home was large enough to accommodate all of our family for weekend visits and special holidays since we were anticipating lots of visits to such a fun town!

The Wound Care Clinic position was ideal for me at this stage in my professional life, and fortunately all the nurses working there were believers. With the administration’s permission we had a 10 minute daily devotion and prayer time for our patients at the beginning of each clinic, and we were able to pray with many of our patients. Some were led to a faith in Christ while being treated in the clinic.

Within 2 years of living in Branson God opened the door for founding of a new ministry, The Free Medical Clinic of the Ozarks in 2008. Cathy and I believe this clinic is the supernatural fulfillment of the vision He had placed in our hearts in 1999 when He directed us to move to Florida to open the church medical clinic at the First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks. I have written about our experiences in the 5 part blog; The Free Medical Clinic of the Ozarks, Nov. 2012. It was exciting for Cathy and me to be involved in such a ministry, and we initially began working together as chaplains praying with and encouraging people coming to the clinic for free medical care.

Because Mary Kay and Dave were members of First Baptist Church Branson we didn’t look for another church home but sank our roots into the ministry there and finding perhaps the best church we had ever experienced. We were able to begin a younger couples Sunday school class which grew in numbers very quickly. I was fortunate to begin a new teaching ministry there and soon added 2 other Godly men, Hebo Hall and Dr. Marvin Schoenecke to assist in teaching. Under the pastorate of Neil Franks, FBC Branson grew into the largest Baptist church in Taney County. At my retirement from medical practice in November 2011, Pastor Franks invited me to join the ministerial staff in charge of new member outreach and marriage mentoring. Cathy and I  continued our mentoring of young married couples along with 12 other couples committed as mentors for the ministry.

One of the highlights of our life in Branson occurred in July, 2015 when Cathy and others organized and we had the 2nd ever Moore Family Reunion in Branson. The only other reunion of our branch of the Moore Family occurred in El Dorado in 1972, just 1 year after we moved there. Our reunion in Branson was over the 4th of July weekend and was a wonderful success. In attendance were all of our children and grandchildren, most of brother Berry Lee and wife LaNell’s children and grandchildren, and sister Marilyn, husband George and as many of their children and grandchildren as were able to attend. It was so much fun being all together finally, and everyone agreed to not wait another 45 years before having the 3rd reunion!

The year 2016 became a physically difficult year for me because of increasing problems  with coronary artery disease. Despite years of weight control and a regular exercise program, the genetic factor of heart disease in the Moore family began taking a toll on me. Seeking cardiac care in Fayetteville with a cardiologist Dr. David Churchill whom I knew to be excellent, the path led to an open heart procedure and triple bypass operation on December 1, 2016 in Fayetteville by Dr. James Counce. The operation was successful with no post-operative complications, but the recovery has been slower than expected and marked with persistent problems with atrial fibrillation. As of this writing I am still awaiting another procedure to control the irregular heart rate which keeps me weakened and unable to exercise as before.

Throughout the years following my retirement from medical practice in 2011, Cathy and I have drawn closer and more dependent on each other. During the initial recovery phase of my heart procedure when I was severely disabled, Cathy provided countless hours of care and support without complaint and with a cheerful spirit. She has shown me over and over what it means to be selfless and poured-out in loving one’s spouse, and this experience has been instrumental in our encouragement of the married couples in our ministry at First Baptist. We are convinced the life lessons God is teaching us now can become life-changing for others.

When I had the words “Thee I Love” inscribed in Cathy’s wedding band 52 years ago I had no idea how those words would be lived out. At the time of our marriage I just knew I was committed to her for life and she was committed to me. We have certainly had a few rough spots in the journey, but there never was a time either of us believed our union was not made in heaven. When we surrendered ourselves to the Lord Jesus that evening in Dallas in August, 1977 we didn’t know how the Lord was going to use us going forward together, but were very sure He was.

Over the past 52 years Cathy and I have been able to accumulate some things we treasure from our life together, but all these things pale in light of our real earthly treasures, our children and grandchildren. What a joy to know they are all saved and living lives which are pleasing to our Lord. Our son John Aaron and wife Gina live in El Dorado, Arkansas along with their two sons, Brady and Landon. Their oldest son, Drew has completed college as a mechanical engineer and works in Ruston, Louisiana. He and his fiance, Emily Chandler will be married in June, 2018 when she completes her college studies at Louisiana Tech. Our older daughter Mary Kay and husband Dave Janke live in Branson, Missouri with their two daughters, Rebecca and Sara Beth. Our younger daughter Ginny and husband, John Luther live in Fayetteville, Arkansas with their two children, Claire and Nathan. They are all the delights of our hearts, and Cathy and I are so blessed!

I really love the position God has placed us in for now and probably for the remainder of the journey, and to add a few words to  one of my baseball hero’s, Lou Gehrig in the speech at his retirement, “Today I consider myself the luckiest (most blessed) man on the face of the earth (because of the Lord Jesus and Cathy).

Dr. John

 

 

50th Anniversary

“Thee I Love” — Part 2

Bride and Groom: Aug. 7, 1965

Cathy and I moved from Valdosta, Georgia to El Dorado, Arkansas in August, 1971 to begin a new phase in our journey. Our 2 young children, John Aaron, age 4 and Mary Kay, age 2 were excited about this new adventure, but Cathy and I were just a little apprehensive with lots of unanswered questions about our future. Could I make a living doing surgery in the town I grew up in? Would we be able to make the right kind of friends for ourselves and our kids? Would we fit into the culture of this small Southern town which still had many prejudiced people who had just come through the tumultuous, racially charged 1960’s?

Cathy had the greatest adjustment to make, because she was separated by many miles from the culture in which she was raised and from any of her  family members. In those years I was not the supportive husband I should have been in understanding Cathy’s plight and the sacrifices she was making. I just assumed in time she would be able to settle into our new life-style and would find her place, her purpose and accomplish her own goals. My thoughts and goals then were professional in terms of becoming the best surgeon possible and providing the best resources for our family. Those were not bad goals; just not centered on Cathy and our kids as it should have been.

The next great event in our life together was the birth of our second daughter, Ginny on November 3, 1972. By this time Cathy and I had purchased the Moore family home in which I was raised at 1800 North Madison from my Mom. She moved into the rental home on East 7th Street where we had been living. Our new home was large with a very large yard in which our kids could play. Our across the street neighbors were the Clyde’s and their children Elizabeth and older brother Andrew would play a large role in our lives then and at a much later time.

We became members of First Baptist Church upon moving to town and immersed ourselves into the ministry of this long-established downtown church. We provided leadership and I was a teacher of a young couples Sunday school class. I was even selected to serve as a deacon. We were fully vested as church members, but both of us felt a certain emptiness in our hearts and in our life together. We didn’t fully understand our dilemma or our need until we attended a Bill Gothard seminar in Dallas, Texas in August, 1977. I wrote about our salvation and life-change which occurred at that seminar on August 6, 1977, and from that day forward we were different individually and toward each other (A Shopping Trip to Dallas; Aug., 2012).

I began understanding on a deeper level my primary responsibilities were to love Jesus with all my heart, and to love and cherish Cathy as Christ loves the church (Eph. 5:25-27). I acknowledged my professional life was important, but it paled in significance to the importance of my investments into the lives of Cathy and our children. There was a definite change in our marriage relationship but changes of that magnitude come slow.

Our involvement into the ministry at First Baptist Church deepened, and reached its’ peak during the pastorate of Dr. Mark Coppenger from 1983 to 1988.Those years marked our greatest spiritual growth to that point. We also became involved in the ministry of The International Congress on Revival (ICR) under Evangelist Bill Stafford’s leadership and together made many overseas mission trips to Brazil, Western and Eastern Europe and Ireland. We were extremely blessed to have my sister Marilyn and husband George Berry from Austin, Texas involved also in the ICR ministry, and we made many of the overseas mission trips together with them. Our love for them and the relationship with them, their children and grandchildren deepened during those years of ministry.

In 1989 Cathy and I moved our church membership from the First Baptist Church to Immanuel Baptist Church in El Dorado, and for the next 10 years were immersed into our ministry there. The most exciting times there were during the pastorate of Dr. David Uth in the mid-1990’s when Immanuel Baptist had its’ greatest growth period. David’s wife Rachel is the daughter of brother Berry Lee and his wife LaNell, so our connection to Brother David and Rachel was even closer and sweeter. We were honored to have Brother David officiate the weddings of each of our children; John Aaron to Gina Ratcliff in 1990; Mary Kay to Dave Janke in 1992; and Ginny to John Luther in 1995.

One of the more difficult times for us occurred in 1999 when we felt called to move to Largo, Florida and the First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks where I served as the initial medical director of the church’s medical clinic. I wrote extensively on this blog concerning our Florida ministry. (“God Will Make a Way” -Our Ministry in Florida; Apr. 2016). The stress of being so far away from our children and grandchildren during that 8 month period drew Cathy and me closer together causing each of us to depend upon the other more and cherish our life more together.

We were thrilled to make our next move in May, 2000 to Fayetteville, Arkansas where our Ginny and husband John Luther lived and to become more fully vested in their family. It was there I began serving as a wound care specialist at Washington Regional Medical Center, and was able to spend much more time at home with Cathy. I no longer had night call or weekend call, and the physical and emotional stresses of a busy surgical practice were lifted. Our home was a beautiful energy-efficient home which was a model all-electric home built by Ozarks Electric Company. We were told we were getting a “Cadillac home” at a “Chevrolet price” which was certainly the case. For the first time in our marriage Cathy had a new home which she could decorate exactly according to her taste, and I loved our Fayetteville home more than all the others. It was located in a new subdivision west of town and a short 5-8 minute drive to Ginny and John’s home which was located in Savoy.

A huge highlight of our time in Fayetteville was the birth of Ginny and John’s first child and their only daughter, Claire on August 19, 2001. It was so fun watching her grow and develop and for us to have the opportunity and time to be part of her early years. Fayetteville is a short 2 hour drive to Branson, Missouri where daughter Mary Kay, husband Dave Janke and their 2 daughters Rebecca and Sara Beth lived, and we frequently made the drive there for weekend visits.

Cathy and I were well-settled in Fayetteville and wonderfully happy with our life, but an unusual turn of events happened which turned our hearts toward another move; this time to Branson, Missouri. (The Free Medical Clinic of the Ozarks– Part 3; Dec., 2012). Friends and even some family members wondered if Cathy and I would ever settle down in one place. A church member and friend in El Dorado at Immanuel Baptist Church asked our son John the question, “Where are your parents living now?!

With considerable prayer and some agonizing Cathy and I believed it God’s will to move to Branson in November 2005 where I would be the sole Director of the Wound Care Clinic of Skaggs Memorial Hospital. More importantly we would be near our kids and grandkids living there. Our plans were to spend a “few years” in Branson, retire from medical practice and return to Fayetteville for the final days of our journey. At the time of our decision I told Ginny through tears, “Mom and I will return– this move is not permanent — I promise!”

— to be continued.

Dr. John

 

 

 

 

 

50th Anniversary

“Thee I Love” — Part 1

Bride and Groom: Aug. 7, 1965

 

As a young man having just received his M.D. degree from the University of Arkansas in June, 1964 I set out for Atlanta, Georgia for my internship at Grady Memorial Hospital having no idea the events of the next 12 months would alter my life forever.

The University of Arkansas Medical School in Little Rock is a good school but is relatively small in patient numbers, and I was looking for a larger training facility with thousands of patients annually. One of my top choices was Cook County Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, but fortunately my visit there was in December, and I immediately knew I couldn’t tolerate the extreme winter weather of Chicago. In just a few months after arriving in Atlanta I would discover the wisdom of my choice.

One of my best friends throughout college and medical school was Dan Moore, and he also decided to train at Grady in Atlanta (“the Gradies”). Dan had been married for several years, and his wife Marsha got a job teaching at an elementary school in DeKalb county. After a month or so she began telling me about “a beautiful girl she taught school with” who would be a good match for me. Marsha was always trying to find a good date for me, so I put off pursuing this latest prospect. After about a month of her prodding with no response from me, she said she was giving up on me and recommending her as a date for a pediatrician friend. I reluctantly agreed to go on a double date with the Moore’s. When I went to her apartment door to meet her, and she said she was “Cathy Young” I was immediately taken by her beauty and charm and couldn’t believe she had agreed to go out with me! Marsha had been telling her nice things about me which probably weren’t all true. Our first date was to a well-known pub for young people, and I discovered this type of place was not to her liking, so our next date was to church!

We continued dating over the next month, and I became certain Cathy was the perfect one for me, if she would have me. In November, 1964 I proposed marriage to her and she accepted! There were 2 major obstacles for our setting an exact wedding date. I had to be accepted into a 4 year surgical training program and then had to get a deferment for 4 years from active duty in the Air Force. The war in Vietnam was escalating in 1964 and the military was commissioning all doctors into service unless they were in an advanced specialty training program. Fortunately I was accepted into the L.S.U. Surgical program at Charity Hospital in New Orleans, and within a month I received a Berry Plan Deferment for 4 years! (See blog post; “A Life Changing Letter” ; Oct..2013). We set the wedding date for August 7, 1965 which was 1 month after beginning my surgical training in New Orleans.

Our wedding was beautiful and especially meaningful because Cathy’s Dad, George Young who was the premier building contractor in Fort Lauderdale had just completely remodeled Park Temple Methodist Church. Our wedding was the first event in that gorgeous church. I was in such a groom’s state of mind I don’t remember much of the actual ceremony! I do know I had the words “Thee I Love” inscribed in her wedding band, and I promised to love her unconditionally until death separated us! Our honeymoon was simply driving to New Orleans to our new first home with a few stops scheduled on the way. On my salary of $125 per month in Atlanta as an intern, we didn’t have much surplus cash for a more elaborate honeymoon!

Out first home was in Bissonet Plaza Apartments in Metairie, Louisiana which was about a 15 minute drive from Charity Hospital. Cathy got a job teaching 5th graders in an elementary school in nearby Kenner, and her income was our primary financial source since I was making only $175 per month at Charity Hospital. On our 1 month anniversary date Hurricane Betsy hit New Orleans, and I have written two blog posts about the harrowing experiences of that event. (The Wedding Gift We Didn’t Want; Aug, 2012; The Elevator Operator Aug. 2012).

We had many memorable experiences from our 4 New Orleans years, but none surpass the birth of our first child, John Aaron born on July 7, 1967. At the time we lived in a subdivision on the West Bank, and two of our neighbors and close friends were John and Jean Boyd. They were a retired couple in their 60’s from upstate New York, and became surrogate parents for us in addition to being wonderful friends.

Our next move was in 1969 when I went on active duty in the Medical Corps of the  Air Force, and we were stationed at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Georgia. I was the only surgeon assigned to the hospital which gave me the freedom to set my own schedule and have the independence very close to a private practice situation. During those 2 years the most significant event was the birth of our second child, Mary Katharine (Mary Kay) on February 10, 1970. I have written an account of her birth in an earlier post (A Birthing at Moody Air Force Base Hospital; Feb.,2015). We lived in a neighborhood in town with lots of kids and playmates for our children, and were able to enjoy a number of freedoms we had not previously experienced. We decided early on when we began having children Cathy would stop teaching school and stay at home with our children. The additional income from the Air Force of a major’s salary allowed us financially to do well on my income alone.

While in South Georgia an additional family benefit was to travel the 6 hours drive down Interstate 75 to Cathy’s parent’s home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It was such a blessing for all of us during those years to spend time with all of Cathy’s family, including her brother George, his wife Dawn and their 2 children Jenifer and George. Cathy’s sister Nancy and son Clay lived in central Florida, and we were able to spend some time with them also. I was fortunate to have been permanently stationed at Moody Air Force Base the entire time since the Vietnam War was in full force and many of my medical colleagues were sent to the front lines to provide care for the wounded.

When I was discharged from active duty in the Air Force in August 1971, Cathy and I  made the decision to move to El Dorado, Arkansas to establish our home and where I could begin my surgical practice in partnership with my brother Berry Lee who had been a Family Doctor there since 1957. I would like to say we had spent many hours in prayer trying to decide our next steps, but we were simply good church members and not believers in the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior. We had spent hours discussing the pros and cons of life in El Dorado, but prayer was not the central focus of our decision-making process at the time.

— to be continued.

Dr. John

 

 

 

 

 

50th Anniversary

 

 

 

Brother Mose Serves The Garden Club

 

Welch’s Jelly Glasses

Brother Mose

I have written several stories about my wonderful childhood friend and teacher Mose Graham. In the racially segregated 1950’s one almost always addressed a Black-American by his first name and seldom ever used the courtesy titles Mr. or Mrs. Our family loved and respected Mose Graham so much we always called him “Brother Mose.” I never heard anyone ever address him as Mr. Mose, and I feel certain he never heard it either.

His responsibilities at our home included yard maintenance and heavy-duty housework such as moving furniture or any objects too heavy for Sister Bobbie and generally assisting in any inside work Mom thought necessary. He occasionally would stay after hours to guard my sister Marilyn and me when needed, but this was rare. In remembering his activities and actions Brother Mose never sat in any chair in the house except in the kitchen while having lunch. He never even considered using one of the 3 bathrooms inside the house, but he and Sister Bobbie had the use of a small room attached to our home which we called “the servant’s quarters” which contained a bed, a chair, a small lavatory and a toilet. They used the servant’s quarters for short rest periods during their workdays which was usually 7-8 hours.

As a young boy I never understood why Brother Mose wouldn’t use a bathroom in our home or sit beside me at the table when I was eating alone in the breakfast room. On many occasions while having his meal in the kitchen I invited him to join me at the breakfast room table, but he politely refused by saying, “That’s alright Master. I’m jes’ fine right here.” He and Sister Bobbie called me “Master” not because they were ordered or I demanded, but because they loved me  and had given me that moniker much like a nick-name. In the beginning I was embarrassed by the name but accepted it as a loving name from them.

When Mom would have a social event at our home with ladies from her garden club or from the church she depended on Brother Mose to arrange the furniture and make certain everything was clean and orderly. As the ladies arrived he remained in the background and usually in the kitchen while they were there just in case Mom needed any extra help. He never mingled with the ladies nor interacted socially with any of them although most of them knew him by name. He never wore a special white jacket for any event, but always his usual work clothes, and the picture above is how I remember he dressed every day. He liked suspenders, and I don’t recall him ever wearing a belt.

On this particular occasion Mom had invited her garden club to our home for their monthly meeting. I assume the meeting place was rotated to the homes of the members, because she didn’t have the garden club in our home very often. As the ladies arrived Mom had some cookies and small cakes on the living room table where the meeting would occur but did not have any drinks on the table. When she asked if anyone would like a drink the first lady responded with, “I would love a glass of water”, the other ladies responded in kind. Mom went back into the kitchen and asked Brother Mose if he would bring a tray of glasses of water for the 8 ladies in the living room. “Yes’um, I’ll be glad to.”

Mom noted it took Brother Mose an unusually long time to bring the water but didn’t go back into the kitchen to check on his reason for delay. When he finally arrived in the dining room with the water Mom knew the reason. She said Brother Mose had gone into her cabinet and found one of her large Sterling silver trays, but when he saw the tray it needed cleaning, so he took the time to completely clean the tray with silver polish. Right in the midst of the beautifully polished tray were 8 of what Brother Mose considered our finest serving glasses, Welch’s Jelly glasses! In those days Welch’s Grape Jelly came in a colorfully decorated glass so when the jar was empty, it could be washed and used as an orange juice glass for children. My sister Marilyn and I loved having our juice each morning in a Welch’s glass.

When Mom saw the glasses she quietly and politely asked Brother Mose if he would exchange those colorful glasses for plain glasses which the ladies would prefer. I actually believe they would have enjoyed having their water while looking at those classic Disney characters, and might have even compared characters with each other. Brother Mose was so beloved by all of us Mom never corrected him in his choice of glasses, and he probably continued thinking he was serving the ladies with our very finest. He was such a kind and unpretentious man!

Dr. John

 

My Forever Friend Pastor Tyrone

Pastor Tyrone and Alisha

 

There are some men whom you meet for the first time you just know they will become a great and forever friend. Such was our introduction to Pastor Tyrone Thorpe and his wife Alisha in 2014 at a marriage seminar in East St. Louis, Illinois.

Cathy and I were invited along with our wonderful friend, Carolyn Lilley to assist in a marriage seminar to strengthen believers at 15th Street Baptist Church in East St. Louis. Carolyn, Cathy and I are members of First Baptist Church, Branson, Missouri, and our church has had a mission’s relationship with 15th Street Baptist and their pastor Andrew Prowell for at least 10 years. We had done 2 marriage seminars in previous years in their church and were purposing to make this teaching seminar an annual event. At this particular seminar Pastor Prowell’s brother, Tyrone Thorpe and wife Alisha were in attendance, and we were introduced. At the time Tyrone was serving as Deacon in another church, and he and Alisha were not regular attenders at 15th Street Baptist.

Several personal qualities Cathy and I immediately noticed in Tyrone were his infectious smile and his exuberant joy in the Lord. He seemed to be continuously smiling and praising God for everything to the extent it initially seemed disingenuous. The more we were with them convinced us he was for real. His obvious love for his bride Alisha was genuine, and we were thrilled having them at our marriage conference. They had been married for 3 years when we first met them.

Before the conference was over the Thorpe’s spoke with us about the possibility of returning the following year to participate in a conference they would organize and manage, and we readily agreed. We believed their enthusiasm and energy was just the spark we needed for a very special meeting.

Throughout the summer and fall months we stayed in touch with the Thorpe’s anticipating either a spring or early summer marriage retreat, which they would plan and coordinate. They set a date which was compatible with our schedule and made more complete preparations for the seminar which included several other couples which would be in leadership roles. We agreed to be in prayer together for God’s hand to be on the conference, and because we were separated by such a distance a conference call prayer meeting was scheduled for every 2 weeks for 2 months.

What an experience the conference call was for Cathy and me since we had not been part of such an event! There were at least 6 people on-line each time, and each was respectful of the one who was praying. It was thrilling for Cathy and me to be part of such a diversified group of believers whose sole purpose was to ask for God’s blessing to be upon the marriage seminar.

The seminar was so well planned by Pastor Tyrone and Alisha it was by far the best marriage enrichment we have ever been fortunate to attend. A highlight for us occurred on the evening prior to the start of the meeting when Cathy, Carolyn Lilley and I joined Pastor Tyrone and Alisha for supper at the Golden Corral in Belleville, Illinois near the Thorpe’s home. Our enthusiasm in that restaurant was fueled by the Thorpe’s, and especially Tyrone who seemed to witness to everyone present in that place. It was there I was especially drawn to Tyrone’s love for Jesus and his sincere desire to share the gospel with everyone.

Tyrone had been delivered years before from the deadly trap of alcohol, drugs and the life-style they create. His life was a total wreck, including breakup of his marriage and family and resulting in a prison sentence. By his testimony of hitting rock bottom and being homeless, his deliverance by the Lord Jesus was dramatic and complete. He had an intense and abiding heart interest for men and women, who like himself were trapped by their sin and circumstances.

In addition to his deliverance from the deadly trap of sin, he was delivered from the initial effects of a head and neck cancer which had possibly resulted from his life-style choices. He received multiple irradiation treatments followed by chemotherapy, and for more than 5 years seemed to have been cured.

At some point following all of this, he met Alisha who was working as a nurse at the VA Hospital in St. Louis where he also worked. They began dating and decided it was God’s will for them to be joined in marriage. Alisha had endured the harm from an abusive husband in her first marriage and through her faith and trust in the Lord Jesus had become a strong and faithful witness for Him. Tyrone and Alisha were made for each other and were married in 2011. Together they developed a ministry of hope and encouragement for any person who had been damaged by sin and their poor life-style choices. It was 3 years after their marriage we first met them.

The final chapter in Tyrone’s earthly life began in mid-2016 when he developed increasing symptoms of severe throat pain and difficulty in swallowing. He phoned me on several occasions, and we prayed together for each other. I was having increasing symptoms of heart disease and growing progressively weaker. Our times of prayer together by phone always encouraged me and drew me closer to the Lord Jesus which I heard in Tyrone’s voice. He began the testing process which resulted in recommendation of a major surgical procedure to remove the recurrent head and neck cancer.Near the same time I was recommended to have open heart surgery.

As it turned out, our surgical procedures were on the exact same day, December 1, 2016. Tyrone was operated at St. Louis University Hospital, and my procedure was done at Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Had they not been on the same day, we would have been present at each other’s hospital.

Tyrone’s operation for complete cancer removal was not successful, and he grew increasingly worse from the cancer. Alisha faithfully cared for him day and night, using her nursing skills and doing many things which would normally be done by other health care providers. We stayed in touch as much as possible, and I gained enough strength for Cathy and I to travel to St. Louis to see him in the hospital in mid-April. He was so weak and couldn’t talk because of his tracheostomy, but we saw that special twinkle in his eye and felt the mutual love in the handshake and ever-present smile. He was surrounded by family members, but we were able to stay for several hours, and especially giving time for Cathy to spend together with Alisha. I was fortunate to have about 30 minutes alone with Tyrone and Veronica his lovely daughter from his first marriage.Veronica lives with her husband and children in Tampa, Florida, and she is a wonderful example of a Christian witness similar to her Father.

My brother Tyrone departed this life on April 26, 2017 at age 60 years, and his spirit was immediately taken into the presence of His Savior the Lord Jesus Christ. I can only imagine the reverence and awe he experienced and can also visualize the enormous joy and gigantic smile which is now continually on his face. I miss him very much but am confidant I will see that smile and sparkle in his eye once again. (I Thess.4:13-18)

Dr. John

 

Seeing and Experiencing God’s Provision

Eye Exam

For the past 9 years of operation of The Free Medical Clinic of the Ozarks (FMCO) I have been continually thankful for God’s provision, and the many ways He has demonstrated He is always on time with just the right amount!

In the beginning when the founders and board members of the clinic were considering the extent of the monthly expenditures we were praying for God’s direction in supplying our needs. Because all who served the clinic were volunteers, including the doctors and nurses, our overhead costs were nowhere near what a private clinic might be. Nevertheless there were expenses for monthly rent, utilities, insurance, equipment needs and office supplies in addition to the cost of the medications which were to be at no cost to the patients. Initially we had no idea whether we might be involved in fund-raising which most if not all of the non-profit organizations in Branson were doing. Several local churches pledged monthly support and a few individuals who understood the magnitude of the ministry gave very liberal amounts.

In previous posts I have testified to God’s on-time provisions which have included Skaggs Community Hospital providing us with our present beautiful and spacious clinic in 2012 at no cost, and the ongoing use of the Patient Assistance Program (PAP) which provides medicines for almost all of our patients at no cost to them or us! The company which provides our weekly maintenance is Brokate Janitorial from Springfield, Missouri, and the owner Jeremy Brokate came to me in mid-2013 saying they would love to provide their services at no cost! There have been other instances in which God sent just the right person at just the right time to supply just what we needed.

One regular individual financial contributor from Sacramento, California has been sending a generous monthly check in honor of her father who died in 2012. He had been an integral part of the start of the clinic, and she has been contributing since 2013 without missing a month in her support of FMCO.

About a month ago a local optometrist was in my office discussing the possibility of his volunteering his time and skills to the ministry of FMCO, and we talked about how we might secure the much-needed but costly equipment for eye exams. There was discussion also about provision of eyeglasses for those needing them and where we might obtain good but low-cost eyewear. He said the cost for used eye exam equipment might be in the range of 5,000 to 10,000 dollars. My words to him were I was not anxious about such a high cost, because we have learned though experience God has always provided for our needs, and His provision arrived before we knew the need. He shook his head in agreement, and we both prayed God would make it clear how we would proceed.

While we were talking the monthly envelope from our Sacramento donor containing what I assumed to be her regular contribution was lying in my desk drawer. It had arrived the day before, and I intended to deposit it later in the day after our visit. When my optometrist friend left I removed the envelope from my desk and while opening it  noticed there was also an accompanying letter. There had not been a letter with the previous checks. I thought this person might be notifying us she was no longer able to continue the support, so I took out the letter to read before looking at the check.

The typed letter had some introductory salutations which were personal, and then she stated she had recently sold some family property in Arkansas and wanted to donate part of the proceeds of that sale. There was a following statement,”I think Mom and Dad would be pleased.” The check was for $10,000 which is the largest single contribution ever given to FMCO!

I bowed my head in gratitude to thank our Heavenly Father who had once again demonstrated His love and on-time provision for the ministry He had begun nine years ago and had been supplying all of our needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19). I couldn’t wait to tell my optometrist friend about the amount of the gift.

Dr. John

Giving Up “Boots” aka “Harry”

“Harry” In His Chair

 

Our daughter Ginny loved cats, and I have told her she must have inherited that love from her mother, because I don’t care much for cats. My sister Marilyn always seemed to have a cat when we were growing up, and because her cats aggravated my dogs, they aggravated me also. I did my best to return the favor whenever possible.

Cathy had numerous cats during her childhood, and she had lots of “cat stories” from her past. In a moment of extreme weakness I even gave Cathy the present of a Siamese cat for her birthday in March during our courtship year. I must have forgotten the following August when we were to be married, I would be living with “Ming.” Since our other daughter Mary Kay also inherited cat love from her Mother, it appeared I was destined to always have one or more cats around the house. Our son John, like me didn’t care much for cats, and we tried our best to agitate them with our pet dogs as often as possible. We never meant any physical harm to them however.

At one point when Ginny was approximately 8 years old we came into possession of a cat who was part Siamese and some other breed. As I recall the kitten had been abandoned, which was all our merciful girls needed to know. Ginny was first in line for a new kitten so this one became hers. Since the kitten had distinctive white paws and was a male Ginny named him Boots. I was thankful the kitten was male so we didn’t have to take him to the veterinarian for a spaying. Boots was seemingly more playful and friendly with me than our previous felines, so I think I kind of “liked” Boots.

Our across the street neighbors were the Clyde’s and their younger daughter Elizabeth (Bitsy) was close friends with our kids, especially Mary Kay and Ginny, with whom she was closer in age. Bitsy loved animals, and in fact when grown she became a veterinarian and now lives with her family and practices veterinary medicine in Mattoon, Illinois. Whenever we went on vacation we engaged Bitsy to watch over and feed our animals, which she not only loved doing for us but appreciated the extra money we paid for her kindness.

One year in March when Boots was approximately 2 years old we took a family vacation to Fort Lauderdale, Florida to spend time with Cathy’s parents and family. During our 10 day absence we again enlisted Bitsy to feed Boots and make certain he was safe. As I recall we didn’t have a dog at the time which was rare for us. Upon our return Bitsy sadly reported she hadn’t seen Boots for about 5 days, and had no clue about his whereabouts. He was pretty much a home cat and to our recollection had never been gone for such an extended period of time. That night all of us, and especially Ginny asked God to return Boots safely home.

Within the next month when no sign of Boots was evident I believe we all gave up hope of his return. All except Ginny. She prayed multiple times during the day, at all our meal times when it was her turn to pray, and especially at night as we listened and agreed with her pleas to our heavenly Father. She never stopped praying for Boots when some of the rest of us had given up.

Approximately 8 months later on Halloween evening our kids were preparing to go into the neighborhood for their annual “trick or treating” when there was a ring of our front door bell. It was Bitsy who was short of breath from running as she told us excitedly, “I’ve found Boots!” “Where in the world did you find Boots, and why didn’t you bring him home?,” we asked her. “When I knocked on Mrs. Reeves door and she came to the door, there was Boots standing beside her. I asked her why did she have Boots?” She answered, ” Do you recognize this cat? He came to my door about 6 months or so ago, and I thought he was a stray cat because he had no collar and was very hungry. I began feeding him and he was happy to stay with me.” Bitsy said I told her Boots was his name, and he belonged to the Moore’s. Mrs. Reeves who lived in a beautiful 2 story home 2 doors down from us, had been a widow for 5 years. Her husband Harry who was owner of B W Reeves Department Store, a landmark store in El Dorado since the oil boom days of the 1920’s, had died a few years previously from heart disease and complications associated with old age.

Mrs. Reeves was shocked at this revelation and told Bitsy, “This cat has decided to stay with me, and he’s now an inside cat. I have had him de-clawed, neutered and named him “Harry” for my dear, departed husband. Harry never leaves my side and even sleeps in the bed with me! I just can’t give him up.” Ginny was so excited Boots had been found and wanted him home with her, and now Mrs. Reeves is saying she can’t live without “Harry”! I immediately phoned Mrs. Reeves, and while she was recounting the story Bitsy told us, she began crying uncontrollably at the thought of returning Boots to us. I told her we would explain this to Ginny, allow her to decide, and we would let her know.

As we sat down with Ginny to explain the dilemma of Boots she also began crying so we prayed with her as she made her decision. She went into our yard, picked some flowers and walked the short distance to Mrs. Reeves house to knock on her door. I think Mrs. Reeves was a little surprised to see Ginny with her flower gift and was almost shocked when Ginny told her, “I want you to have Boots as a gift from me.” She hugged Ginny and through tears told Ginny what a sweet girl she was for this gift while promising to take good care of Harry.

We were all very proud of Ginny’s loving generosity in giving up Boots, and I promised her I would find another cat for her very soon. Ginny’s attitude helped reinforce to us we must hold our possessions in an open hand so when our Father decides to move them to someone else, we can give freely and cheerfully. He always gives back more than we had in the beginning. (Luke 6:38)

Dr. John