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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The Evangelist Gives An Invitation

Revival Preacher

Evangelistic revivals are fast becoming events of a past generation in the modern church. I am old enough to remember when a scheduled revival meeting would begin on a Sunday morning continuing through the following Saturday evening, and if the meeting was successful it  might be extended for another week. As time progressed the usual revival of the 1980’s and 1990’s was reduced to a Sunday morning through Wednesday night. Fewer and fewer churches after the 1990’s even scheduled evangelists to come preach, until now only a very few pastors consider an evangelistic revival a relevant event for their church. I believe the church is missing a very significant tool for outreach evangelism, which for many decades was responsible for tens of thousands of spiritually dead sinners to make lasting professions of faith. I use the term lasting because one of the arguments against revivals is many recorded professions of faith from the past were simply emotional responses to high pressure techniques of over-zealous evangelists.

In a previous post I related the account of my friend Rev. Anton (Buddy) Uth’s first evangelistic visit. He was a college student at Ouachita Baptist University at the time, and upon graduation went to seminary to receive his M Div. degree at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He pastored many Southern Baptist churches in the south during his years of ministry. I was privileged to know and love him because his son David, who is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church Orlando is married to our niece Rachel Moore. Brother David became our pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in El Dorado for a 5 year period in the 1990’s. Besides being a wonderful pastor-shepherd, Brother Buddy could tell some of the most interesting and hilarious stories of any pastor I have known. I always thought one of his best stories concerned a visiting evangelist.

I don’t recall Brother Buddy revealing the name of the evangelist, and this account might well have been the first time this man had preached in one of his churches. In the modern church very few pastors wear a coat and tie, but in the majority of Southern Baptist churches prior to 2000, it would have been unthinkable for a pastor or evangelist to wear anything but a coat and tie. This evangelist had on his nicest suit and came fully prepared to lead a successful meeting.

For the initial service on Sunday morning Brother Buddy didn’t recognize prior to walking onto the platform with the evangelist, the visitor had failed to close the zipper of his pants. The visitor; however recognized his own mistake when he sat in his chair on the platform while the choir was singing the opening anthem. This was certainly not the time to close a zipper with all the congregants  watching the activities behind him. The preacher thought he could easily close his zipper when he stood to preach standing behind the pulpit, and the action would not be noticed by even the most observant viewer.

The church sanctuary was an old one without air conditioning and during the hot summer months the windows along the sides were kept open. This meeting was being held in the latter days of August before Labor Day. With the help of the ceiling fans the circulation was enough on most Sundays to keep the inside temperatures pleasant enough for a 1-2 hour service. The pulpit had been built years before by one of the skilled members, and to add a little color and formality a small silk cloth with tassels was covering the top of the pulpit. Those overlays were common in many country churches. The evangelist had no idea this colorful but unobtrusive item was about to become a focal point of his message that morning.

At the close of the choir special the evangelist kept his Bible and notes in front of him as he stood and quickly positioned himself behind the pulpit. While he was making introductory praise remarks to Pastor Buddy and the congregation he quickly pulled on the zipper and succeeded in closing it. His preaching style was not typical of many evangelists in that he primarily remained behind the pulpit while preaching. It was more common for preachers to move back and forth across the platform while speaking, stopping frequently to emphasize a particular point. This particular style for this preacher delayed the discovery of what had just occurred.

The evangelist  noted during his message the pulpit overlay seemed to moved slightly when he shifted positions, but he attributed it to the slight breeze coming into the auditorium and thought nothing of it. He remained stationed behind the pulpit and re-positioned his preaching notes. Nearing the close of his message he began making an appeal for anyone desiring to make a public profession of faith or re-commitment of their life to Christ to stand and make their way to the front of the auditorium. He said he and Brother Buddy would be at the front to receive them and pray with them. He asked the pianist to begin softly playing “Just As I Am.” With a quick turn and move the evangelist stepped fully out from behind the pulpit, and he discovered what had occurred when he zipped up his zipper!

One of the tassels was trapped in the top of his zipper and the entire overlay with his Bible and preaching notes came flying off the pulpit. He was suddenly fully exposed to the congregation with the brightly colored overlay hanging down from his pants. He made several attempts at freeing the tassel, but it was so deeply embedded it was not to be removed apart from being cut free. Brother Buddy said he and the entire congregation were so near to breaking out into laughter, the solemnity of the invitation time was gone. As the evangelist turned his back to the crowd he continued in his efforts to free the tassel. Brother Buddy said all he knew to do at the moment was to call on the Chairman of Deacons seated near the front to close in prayer. At the moment he seemed less likely to break out in laughter and was able to successfully voice a prayer.

As Brother Buddy usually said when recalling this funny incident, “Don’t ever assume what God may do in any church service. He will have His way.” God wants us to come to Him with a humble and contrite heart knowing anything good we have is from His hand. (Psalm 51: 16,17). I can think of few things which will humble a preacher more than standing in front of his hearers with a brightly colored pulpit overlay hanging from the front of his pants!

Dr. John

 

 

 

Aunt Fanny’s Cabin

Dining at Aunt Fanny’s Cabin

Prior to moving to Atlanta, Georgia in June, 1964 to begin my medical internship I had never lived in a major city. My 4 years in medical school in Little Rock were spent in a town so much larger than my home of El Dorado, Arkansas, yet by city population standards Little Rock is not a metropolis. Because of the immensity and intensity of the work of a medical student I didn’t get to enjoy many of the benefits of the city of Little Rock.

Atlanta was different in so many ways and frankly was a bit intimidating to a small town guy. I was at once very excited to move to a major city with my new MD degree and all the doors which might be opened, but at the same time frightened I might be swallowed up in the immensity of it all and lose any personal identity. At that point in life faith played no role in my thinking, and I was not seeking after God to direct my path. My secular thoughts led me to believe like the poem “Invictus”; I was the master of my fate and the captain of my soul.

Fortunately within a few months of living in Atlanta and working at Grady Memorial Hospital, I met a young and beautiful woman named Cathy Young with whom I fell madly in love. My work schedule at the hospital was crazy in those days since I was on call for 36 hours and off duty for 12 hours in a 2 day span. Those kind of work hours are no longer allowed because of the physical and emotional drain, but at the time I thought nothing about it because I was single, young and strong! Sleep and rest were accomplished by short, quick naps interspersed by 3-4 hours of deep sleep when available. Cathy will tell you I occasionally took short naps on her couch while waiting for her to get ready for a date.

My salary at the hospital was below poverty level, but this was the culture of medical training in those days. We expected the temporary poverty awaiting the time when larger incomes could be attained. Cathy was earning a salary for her teaching responsibilities as an elementary teacher, but her income was modest at best.

Our dates did not involve any expensive outings because we were relatively poor. Perhaps once each month we could afford dining in a moderately priced restaurant, but never in a 4 or 5 star restaurant. We ate lots of hamburgers and hot dogs, but I don’t recall ever feeling deprived. Had we been invited to a 5 star restaurant by someone who could afford it, we would have felt uncomfortable and out-of-place.

Perhaps our favorite restaurant for a special date was Aunt Fanny’s Cabin located in Smyrna, an Atlanta suburb. We didn’t get to go there often, but when we did it was a visual and culinary delight. Opened since the 1940’s Aunt Fanny’s Cabin catered to people who loved good Southern comfort food served in an atmosphere of a culture  long since gone.

When we lived in Atlanta the Civil Rights Movement was near its’ peak in intensity and confrontation. Reverend Martin Luther King whose church, Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta was a prominent figure in Atlanta and throughout the entire South. Sadly there were many death threats hurled against him and his family. At Grady Hospital there was always talk among our hospital staff we expected he might be brought to the emergency room at any time either severely wounded or killed. From a racial hatred and intolerance standpoint Atlanta was a risky and sometimes frightening place to live in the mid-1960’s.

Cathy and I never felt threatened or intimidated in any public place in which we dated, nor did we believe by eating in a restaurant like Aunt Fanny’s Cabin were we endorsing a stance of racial prejudice. It was a fun place we could occasionally afford and not only did we love the food, we had a good time there.

Upon entering the restaurant and being seated at a table with a red and white checkered tablecloth, a young black boy named “Jimmy” would come to the table with a large black board with a hole in the top of the board. Written on the board in white chalk were the  4 main entrees of the restaurant. Jimmy would say with a big wide-mouth grin; “Aant Fanny sez, howdy folks, what’ll it be? Today’s specials are — our famous Southern fried chicken — six dollas. Gen u wine Smithfield ham — six fifty. Charcoal broiled steak — sebn’ dollas and Rainbow trout — sebn’ fifty”

The price of the entrée included the side dishes which were brought to the table and  served family style. The sides included black-eyed peas, turnip greens, green beans, squash and mashed potatoes with gravy.The baked corn bread was absolutely delicious. As I recall when one finished the meal and was still hungry, desserts were available at a small extra charge. The meals were so filling only the heartiest diners had one of their desserts.

Occasionally Jimmy would stand at the table while allowing customers to read his menu sign and might recite a jingle or do a shortened version of the “Hambone.” This was a syncopated hand slap associated with a rhyming tune about a character named Hambone. I had known how to do the “Hambone” since junior high days in El Dorado when Buzzy Sutherlin and I had “Hambone” contests. Cathy had never seen such a thing and was intrigued by having seen me do it once or twice in private. One one occasion at Aunt Fanny’s Cabin I told Jimmy “I’ll bet you a dollar I can do the “Hambone” better than you.” We had a brief contest in front of several tables of near-by customers, who all seemed to enjoy it. It embarrassed Cathy just a little, but she didn’t urge me to stop. I didn’t prolong the contest fearing it might jeopardize Jimmy’s job, and I gave him a dollar for his good nature in contesting with me.

Cathy and I will always fondly remember our days of courtship in Atlanta. Despite the stresses of available free time, financial insufficiency and big city living, we had a blast. All of our remembrances of dining at Aunt Fanny’s Cabin are wonderful and I wish we could find restaurant food like that once again! We never considered the atmosphere of the place to be demeaning or insulting to black people, because neither of us was racially prejudiced. The restaurant was closed in the 1980’s for some of those reasons.

Dr. John

PS: I always thought I beat Jimmy in the contest!

 

“I Didn’t Know You Would Be My Neighbor”

In my medical practice life of 45+ years, I have had the privilege of serving with many outstanding doctors. The two most outstanding to me were my Dad, Dr. Berry L. Moore Sr. (Pop) and my brother, Dr. Berry L. Moore Jr. (Bubba). Upon our return to El Dorado, Arkansas in 1971 when I begin my general surgical practice I was introduced to some very colorful men who were practicing medicine there. All were older men with lots of practice experience, and I was excited to have the chance to learn from them as much as possible. Pop had died from heart failure 6 years earlier, but Bubba was near the top in his practice experience and wisdom.

Mom was still living in the family home on North Madison, but the home and gardens were far too large for her to continue living there, and a decision about her future residence would soon have to be made. Living next door on the north side in a home they had custom-built were Dr Frank and Lillian Thibault. They had been good neighbors to Mom and Pop for years and never caused any significant neighborly problems. Their yard and grounds were not neat and well-manicured like Mom and Pop’s, but they didn’t have a boat and trailer or a junk car in their yard and had their yard mowed at least once or twice each summer.  They had not been very social with Mom and Pop and pretty much kept to themselves. I don’t remember ever seeing either one of them at our home nor hearing any account of them having Mom and Pop over for a cup of coffee.

The stories concerning Dr. Thibault were myriad and most were focused either on his personal appearance or his automobile driving exploits. For reasons known only to him he seldom had a clean-shaven face. When seen at his medical office or the hospital he had a 3-4 day growth of facial hair which was never groomed. In addition he wore bedroom slippers the majority of the time. I don’t remember ever seeing him in a pair of shoes. Perhaps he had a medical issue with his feet which made the wearing of regular shoes painful, but I never heard that explanation given. An account was told by Dr. John Henry Pinson, the Union County Coroner how he over-heard a radio transmission from a trooper of the Arkansas State Police on their frequency. The trooper called in to report an individual with no personal ID had been stopped for speeding on the highway near Sheridan, Arkansas. The individual identified himself to the trooper as Frank Thibault, an El Dorado physician, and the trooper wanted to know if anyone could confirm the identity of such a person. Dr. Pinson keyed in on the frequency and identified himself to the trooper, and told him he was a friend of Dr. Thibault. He told the trooper if the individual was “clean-shaven and wearing shoes” he was an imposter!

Another story told me by Dr. Thibault himself involved a later traffic stop by a different Arkansas State Trooper. The doctor had just purchased a new Pontiac and was “breaking it in” by driving to Little Rock to attend an Arkansas Razorback football game. About half-way to his destination he was pulled over for excessive speed and given a ticket by the trooper. Dr. Thibault asked what the fine would be, and the trooper said, “It will cost you $50 which you must pay now.” Dr. Thibault handed the lawman a 100 dollar bill and told him, “I’ll be coming home tonight around 10 PM following the game and this will cover that fine!”

Dr. Thibault had a long career practicing Family Medicine in El Dorado, and I think he had a large number of of loyal patients who depended on him. He never referred any patients to me for a surgical procedure, but we collaborated on a few acute trauma cases assigned to us as on-call doctors. From my observation of these patients he had sound judgement and current medical knowledge. I heard from several people who had been patients of his for years they believed despite his unusual personal traits he was a “brilliant doctor.” I had no reason to doubt their assessment, but he was surely different.

I was in the Emergency Room at Warner Brown Hospital on a cold December afternoon when Dr. Thibault was brought in having sustained a shotgun injury to his right hand. He had been duck hunting that afternoon and was getting out of the boat while pulling his shotgun out of the boat barrel-first. The gun was still loaded with the safety off, and when he pulled on the weapon the trigger struck an object and the shotgun discharged through the middle of his right palm. I assisted Dr. J.C. Calloway, Orthopedic surgeon with an operation to save his hand. The operation was successful, but for the remainder of his life Dr. Thibault had a severely deformed right hand which hampered his doing any more medical procedures. His gun safety judgement was certainly faulty.

I heard Pop once say, “Old Frank is strange, but I think he is a pretty good doctor. He and I get along just fine.” As a teenager I was present in our side-yard one afternoon when Pop made this comment tongue in cheek to Dr. Thibault, “Frank, the Lord says in the Good Book I am to love my neighbor like myself. But he didn’t tell me Frank Thibault would be my neighbor!” Frank just laughed out loud without making any comment. When Cathy and I moved into the family home years later I occasionally reminded Dr. Thibault of Pop’s comment about being his neighbor and told him I concurred with Pop. He always laughed and once said, “Unfortunately we don’t get to pick our neighbors.”

Dr. John

The First Evangelistic Visit

Trailer Park

Christ calls all of His disciples to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth and promises He will go with them. (Matt. 28:18-20). Despite the importance and the provision of His power, this one imperative strikes more fear into the hearts of Christians than any other command. All Christians are aware of their responsibility in this regard, but sadly very few have led a non-believer to a saving knowledge of Christ.

I love hearing wonderful stories of faith in which a person is brought from spiritual darkness into the light of Jesus’ love and is saved. I particularly loved hearing my brother Berry Lee (Bubba) recount stories of his patients praying to receive Christ as their Savior either in Bubba’s medical office or in the hospital while being treated for serious medical issues. I never saw a physician pray with a patient for the first 10 years of my medical practice until I saw Bubba pray with one of his patients. Within a year of that time, I gave my life to Christ and was mentored by Bubba on how to minister Christ to my own patients.

One of my heroes of the faith is Reverend Anton (Buddy) Uth who was the father of Dr. David Uth. Brother David who is now pastor of the First Baptist Church of Orlando, is married to Rachel, Berry Lee and LaNell’s middle daughter. Cathy and I have known and loved Rachel since she was born, and when she began dating and finally married David we have loved him and his family as well. Brother Anton was a Southern Baptist pastor for many years and faithfully served our Lord in numerous churches until his death in 2009 at age 80. His widow Joann lives in Bryant, Arkansas and is still active in her church, Geyer Springs First Baptist.

Brother Anton could tell some of the best and funniest stories of his many years of ministry. I’ll always remember his account of his first evangelistic visit which occurred when he was a student at Ouachita Baptist University.

By Anton’s admission his early life was not spent as a believer pursuing God’s will.  Following his conversion he decided to begin his education toward a ministerial degree by enrolling at Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) for his undergraduate degree. He was older by almost 10 years than most students and was eager to learn as much as he could as quickly as possible.

One of his close friends was Bailey Smith who was a senior at OBU although he was 10 years younger than Anton. Bailey was an enthusiastic soul-winner who in his ministry as pastor of the mega-church First Southern Baptist Church of Dell City, OK. was able to lead as many as 2,000 people a year to Christ. Anton said he wanted to learn how to witness his faith to others, and there was no one at Ouachita better equipped to teach him than Bailey. He agreed to take Anton out on an evangelistic visit and demonstrate how easy and wonderful it was to lead someone to a saving faith.

On the designated afternoon Bailey and Anton made their way to a local trailer park which Bailey indicated he had visited on more than one occasion. He told Anton this particular park was very fertile grounds for lost people, and he had led people there to Christ in the recent past. Anton said he was very excited to learn from such a bold and experienced teacher.

They approached a particularly shabby trailer which Bailey said housed a lost man whom he had visited one time in the past. Bailey knocked on the door, and in a few moments according to Anton, it was opened by a large, unkept man with a 2-3 day  growth of beard. He was wearing pants with no shoes and a tight-fitting t-shirt with lots of black chest hair exposed. Bailey said, “Good afternoon Mr. Johnson. I’m Bailey Smith whom you met before, and I want you to meet my friend Buddy Uth. May we come in?” “Sure, come in and have a seat. I need to go back in the bedroom for a minute,” he said. Anton said he and Bailey sat in two chairs in the living area and awaited Mr. Johnson’s return.

In less than a minute Mr. Johnson appeared in the living room with a double-barreled shotgun pointed at the two evangelists and said, “I told you last time you were here I would kill you if you returned!” Anton said he was so stunned at this turn of events he was temporarily frozen in the chair, but the moment Mr. Johnson appeared with the shotgun, Bailey instantly bolted out the door of the trailer without speaking. Within another moment Anton said he followed Bailey through the door and started running as fast as he could, noticing Bailey was at least 10-12 paces ahead running at a faster pace. Mr. Johnson meanwhile was shouting curse words at both men, and Anton said he expected to hear a shotgun blast and feel the pain of the pellets at any moment! When he finally caught up with Bailey who had stopped to catch his breath and were far enough from the trailer to be out of shotgun range, he also stopped. His first words to Bailey were, “I’m sure glad you brought me out to teach me how to be a soul-winner. I can’t imagine what the next lesson will be like!” Anton never gave me a follow-up account, but I suspect they did make other more fruitful visits together without re-visiting Mr. Johnson.

Jesus said in Matthew 10:13-14 when we go to a house to witness and are not received nor heard, just leave and shake the dust off your feet. I suppose the first lesson Anton learned on his first evangelistic visit with Bailey was the technique of dust shaking! 🙂

Dr. John

“May I Give Him a Tetanus Shot?”

Burn of Foot

For all of the years I practiced medicine as a surgeon in El Dorado, Arkansas I had to take ER call at least once every 3 or 4 days. There was an  approximate 10 year period when I first began practice in 1971 there was not a full-time ER physician hired by the 2 local hospitals to cover emergency cases. His responsibilities would include all emergency medical problems and minor surgical procedures such as laceration repair and drainage of uncomplicated abscesses Larger hospitals in the state such as Baptist Medical Center, St. Vincent’s and University Medical Center in Little Rock were some the first hospitals in Arkansas to hire physicians to work in the emergency room and  Emergency Medicine soon became a medical sub-specialty.

The early method for ER coverage was relatively simple. Every physician on the hospital staff was on a rotation schedule and was responsible for treating every emergency room patient who presented to the ER for a 24 hour period. Most of the emergencies could be handled by telephone while other more serious conditions required the doctor going to the ER to examine and treat the patient. Some physicians were more diligent and precise in treating patients and spent more time in face to face encounters. Newer physicians in town were placed on the schedule following the less diligent since the rule was if the on-call physician refused or was unable to treat a patient, the ER nurse had the authority to contact the next physician on the list. It was not an ideal system but most of the time it worked.

An older primary care physician whom I’ll identify as “Dr. C” was always on the schedule immediately ahead of me. He had the propensity for having a few drinks of beverage alcohol following his work schedule each day and occasionally would have a few too many drinks which affected his medical judgement. The ER nurse could immediately discern his sobriety and if necessary would call me to resolve the appropriate treatment for the patient. I didn’t like having to cover an additional night on-call but understood the reasoning.

In the early hours of a Sunday morning I received a phone call from Mrs. Montgomery, the chief ER nurse at Warner Brown Hospital. In her quiet, sweet voice which was immediately recognizable she said, “Dr. Moore I have a 21-year-old Black-American man who is inebriated and got into a fight this evening. He has multiple lacerations which need sutures.” I said, “Mrs. Montgomery, I’m not the one to treat him. Dr. C. is on call.”  She said, “I called him and he told me to just flush him down the commode.” Teasing  her a little I said, “Have you done that?”, to which she responded, “Dr. Moore, he’s too  big!” I knew the problem with Dr. C that evening so I told her I would come to the ER  and treat the individual. As I finished the work on the patient I jokingly told Mrs. Montgomery I agreed with her assessment of the patient regarding the commode!

In another encounter years later at Union Medical Center (now The Medical Center of South Arkansas), I was walking through the Emergency Room on the way to see a post-operative patient on the 3rd floor when I was stopped by one of the ER nurses. She said, “I know you are not on call, but I have a young man in Room 1 who has a 2nd degree grease burn of his right foot. He works for Church’s Chicken and some grease was accidentally spilled on his foot. May I give him a tetanus shot?” I walked into Room 1 to briefly inspect the wound which was not infected, and I ordered her to give the tetanus booster. She said, “Where do you want me to give it?”, knowing she was asking should she give it in the arm or in the buttocks. Without thinking I quickly said, “Just give it to him in that foot.” Immediately the young man jumped off the gurney and bolted through the door and out of the ER into the parking lot. He ran into an adjacent neighborhood with no bandage nor a shoe on his burned right foot. It all happened so suddenly, and I was laughing so hard it took a few minutes for us to alert a security guard to run after the fleeing patient! When he was finally brought back to the ER the runaway said, “I wasn’t going to let that nurse give me a shot in my sore foot.” We reassured him he would not be given a tetanus shot in his foot, and he was given the appropriate treatment for his injury.

The uncertainty of the injuries and the identity of the injured patients caused me some anxiety during all those years of taking emergency calls. When I was called to treat someone with a life-threatening injury I was always concerned it might be a family member or someone whom I knew well. As I grew older and had experienced some very emotionally draining emergency room encounters, I welcomed the day when I was no longer required to take ER call. To this day when I hear the sound of an ambulance or see the flashing lights, it causes me to cringe a bit thinking the next ring of the telephone might be a call for me to come to the ER.

Dr. John

Wayne Barber and His Bubba Teeth

Dr. Wayne Barber

 

Cathy and I had the privilege of knowing and hearing some of the best preachers in the world as a result of our involvement in The International Congress on Revival (ICR). We joined in the work of this particular ministry in the early 1990’s as a result of our friendship with Brother Bill Stafford who was the President of ICR.

Brother Bill assumed the leadership of ICR upon the death of its’ founder, Brother Manley Beasley in 1990, and despite his demanding schedule as a Southern Baptist evangelist he was fully vested in ICR. He invited me to join the board of ICR which was meeting annually in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Brother Bill’s hometown. It was at the initial board meeting I attended Cathy and I met Wayne Barber and his wife Diane. Wayne was Pastor of Woodland Park Baptist Church, a large and growing Southern Baptist church in which Brother Bill and wife Sue were members. Other members of this church which we later met were Kay and Jack Arthur, founders of Precepts Ministry; Costel and Mia Oglice, Romanian missionaries for Precepts Ministry; Dorie Van Stone, Precepts missionary; John Ankerberg, prominent Christian apologist; and Dr. Spiro Zodiates, one of the world’s prominent  Greek Biblical scholars. There were many sweet and dedicated Christians who regularly attended Brother Wayne’s church, and Cathy and I loved being in that atmosphere!

I was on the board for 2 years before Brother Bill convinced Cathy and me we would have ministry opportunities in making the overseas conferences which were primarily held in western and eastern Europe. There were also meetings in those days in Australia and in South Africa. While I was on the board we added Ireland where  conferences were held for 2 separate years.

Our initial attendance of a conference in Austria was in February, 1993, and we were able to take Mary Kay, our older daughter and new husband Dave Janke along with our  younger daughter Ginny, who at the time was regularly dating her future husband John Luther. We all met in Innsbruck, Austria for a 3 day rest period before the conference in Salzburg, Austria began. It was in Salzburg we first heard Brother Wayne preach, and he was on the schedule for at least 4 sessions. There were 5 other preachers present in addition to Brother Bill, and the quality of preaching and worship was outstanding. From this initial ICR conference we attended, Cathy and I only rarely missed going overseas with the team and considered those meetings each February as spiritual highlights of the year.

Several years after our initial conference Cathy and I were able to invite our good friends Brother Tommy Freeman and wife Sharon to accompany us to an ICR conference which was again held in Salzburg. I have written 2 earlier posts concerning my love and appreciation of Brother Tommy, and the impact he has had on my spiritual growth. (Church Visitation with Brother Tommy, Oct. 2012; and The Prairie Grove Revival, Oct. 2015). Brother Tommy’s personality is one which is intense and focused, but he does have a good sense of humor. He had never met Wayne Barber nor heard him preach prior to this meeting.

Although Brother Wayne was an outstanding preacher he had a mischievous sense of humor, which could sometimes catch people who didn’t know him off guard. Wayne was a physically large imposing man who was 6′ 8″, weighing approximately 275 pounds, and his size alone commanded attention. He always had a huge smile with beautiful white teeth, and always acted as if he had never met a stranger.

By this time my brother-in-law and sister, George and Marilyn Berry from Austin, Texas had joined the ICR team, and we were all meeting at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta for our overseas flight to Austria. We met George and Marilyn first and introduced them to Brother Tommy and Sharon whom they had never met. Over the next 10-15 minutes we had a lively conversation recounting stories of our children, mutual friends and people from El Dorado, Arkansas with whom we had fellowship.

Coming down a long concourse we spotted Brother Wayne and Diane walking toward us. All of us except Brother Tommy and Sharon recognized them. Wayne had a huge smile on his face revealing a hideous pair of Bubba teeth! He bear-hugged all of us, and when we introduced Brother Tommy and Sharon, he bear-hugged them as well! None of us mentioned the teeth, but as I hugged Wayne I told him, “Brother Wayne you have never looked better!” After a few minutes Wayne and Diane excused themselves and moved back down the same concourse to greet other attendees.

When he had gotten out of voice range Brother Tommy asked, “John, did you say he was pastor of a large church in Chattanooga?” “Yes,” I said, “one of the largest churches in the city.” “Surely he must have a dentist in the church who would help him with his teeth problems.” “What problem is that?” I asked, while keeping a straight face. “Oh John, did you see those teeth of his? They would be a huge distraction while he is preaching.” “Brother Tommy, when he preaches he doesn’t open his mouth very wide and no one pays much attention to his teeth. Everyone in his church loves him and think he is a great preacher.” Brother Tommy continued, “John, somebody needs to help him with those teeth because they are only going to get worse. I think as a member of the board you ought to try to help him.” I didn’t comment further and didn’t say anything more about Wayne’s teeth.

Later in the day before our flight departed Brother Wayne visited with us again and had removed his fake teeth revealing his own perfectly white teeth. Nothing was said about the teeth, but Brother Tommy said privately to me, “John, I’m going to get you! You really got me on that one.”

Brother Wayne served the Lord at Woodland Park Baptist Church for several more years after this and then moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico to pastor Hoffmantown  Church until 2011 when he and Diane returned to Woodland Park. Although we were no longer serving in the ministry of ICR, Cathy and I along with Marilyn and George Berry were privileged to hear Brother Wayne preach again in 2013 at The Cove, which is Billy Graham’s Training Center in Asheville, North Carolina. George and I each carried a set of Bubba teeth, and at our initial reception with the Barber’s we grinned widely! He loved it.

Ironically Brother Wayne departed this life on August 29, 2016 at The Cove where he was scheduled to be the conference speaker. He had developed a form of ALS a few months prior, but was trying to finish his course well. Cathy and I, along with Marilyn and George praise God we got to know and love Brother Wayne. (Bubba teeth and all)!

Dr. John

The Witness at the Sugar Bowl

 

 

 

Sugar Bowl January 1980

I have been an Arkansas Razorback football fan since 1946 when my older brother Berry Lee (Bubba) received a full scholarship to play during his college days. He was only able to play one year, because he was disabled by a career ending knee injury during his sophomore year, so I never got to see him play in a Razorback uniform. My loyalty as a fan has never waned despite some very lean years and only one national championship in 1964.

Shortly after our family moved to Arkansas in 1971 I infected our son John Aaron with the same zeal for the Razorbacks, and we have attended a number of games together including 3 post-season bowl games.One of the most memorable games we attended was the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans in January 1980 when the Razorbacks played the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. It was not the game itself which was so memorable because the Razorbacks lost the game 24-9, but the events in New Orleans which led up to the game. John Aaron who was 12 years old at the time and I decided to attend the game and enjoy a father-son get together with Dr. Joel Spragins and his son Mark who was 10 years old.

Dr. Joel Spragins is a gastroenterologist who practiced medicine for many years in  Shelby, North Carolina. We were classmates in medical school at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock and close friends during those years. He is the son of Dr. John Spragins who  formerly was President of Arkansas College in Batesville, Arkansas (now Lyon College) where Joel attended college. Joel was raised as a Presbyterian, but like me and by his admission during college and medical school days was nominal in the expression of his faith. Between our sophomore and junior years we spent 3 months together in Jacksonville, Florida doing an externship at Baptist Medical Center. We had a fun summer in the sun with the beaches available while making lots of new friendships. In addition we also learned some good medical principles from the staff physicians at the hospital.

While doing my 4 year surgical training at Charity Hospital New Orleans I became very good friends with Dr. Richard (Dick) Faust who was a staff physician and practicing surgeon at a large clinic in down town New Orleans. He and I co-authored an article on “Tetanus” which was published in a major surgical journal. In the interim between finishing my training and entering the US Air Force as a surgeon, I worked for 2 months in his clinic as a staff surgeon. He told me when I finished my  military responsibilities if Cathy and I ever wanted to move back to New Orleans, I would have a position waiting for me in his clinic. He also said whenever we visited the city we had an open invitation to stay with him and wife Margaret in their beautiful home on Henry Clay Avenue in the Garden District just off well-known St. Charles Avenue.

John and I invited Joel and Mark to join us as guests of the Faust’s while enjoying all the Sugar Bowl festivities. It was a perfect place for us because the Faust’s gave us their entire 3rd floor with a large suite of rooms and complete privacy. They did take us to dinner one evening, but otherwise we seldom saw them. According to Dick they wanted Joel and me to “give full-time and attention to our sons and not worry about them.” That’s the kind of friend Dick Faust was to me.

John Aaron and Mark made an immediate connection and really enjoyed talking and playing with each other. Their instant friendship made for an especially fun 3 days, because Joel and I already had a good relationship and conversation was always lively and sprinkled with lots of laughter.

I was able to tell Joel about the life-changing experience Cathy and I had in Dallas in 1977 when we attended the Bill Gothard seminar in the Dallas Convention Center.( A Shopping Trip To Dallas; Aug. 2012). I didn’t try to preach at Joel or even suggest he and his wife Jeanne should consider attending such a conference. Joel had lots of questions concerning our past and present lives and even asked John Aaron what he thought about his parent’s new attitudes and life styles.

On the morning of the game which was played in the early afternoon, we all went down-town to the Riverfront Hilton, which was the team hotel for a huge pep rally. The Razorback band was there along with the entire pep squad and what appeared to be thousands of Razorback fans all decked out in red clothing, Hog hats and Hog snouts. It was very exciting for all of us and had enthusiasm been the key to victory on the football field, we would have won the game hands down! Unfortunately our beloved Hogs were beaten by an excellent and superior team from Alabama.

When we returned to the Faust’s home for our final evening together before returning to our respective homes, Joel made the statement to me, ” I’ve never seen such a change in a person since the last time we were together. I want you to tell me more about that conference in Dallas and how Jeanne and I might attend!” I told him there was a  also a conference held each year in Charlotte, North Carolina which was only 50 miles from Shelby, and they could sign up for the early summer dates for that meeting. We also knew a couple we had met at an earlier conference named Gary and Virginia Cooper from Charlotte, and they contacted Joel and Jeanne and even invited them to stay in their home during the 4 day conference.

They did indeed sign up for the seminar, and Joel called me a few days prior to the start and asked, “Before we go over to Charlotte are you sure this man Bill Gothard is not some sort of religious fanatic, is he?”

I could hardly wait to hear their evaluation of the time spent in Charlotte, but Joel finally called to report he and Jeanne had a very special week together. They connected with the Cooper’s and made a new friendship in the Lord with them. Overall God had helped them strengthen their faith and marriage, and they were very grateful to have made the sacrifice of their time. He thanked me multiple times for encouraging them.

John Aaron and I had a wonderful time in New Orleans with Joel and Mark, and still talk about the weekend with fond remembrances when the subject is brought up. Despite  the final score of the game at the Superdome, we believe we were part of a big win for the Lord at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on January 1, 1980!

Dr. John