“I’m Not As Scared As I Might Appear”

Transparent Pulpit

I had the privilege of serving on the board of the Kelly Green Evangelistic Association for about 10 years during the 1990’s. I first met Kelly in 1987 when he came to First Baptist Church in El Dorado, Arkansas to lead a revival that lasted for 5 days. Mark Coppenger was our pastor then, and he was familiar with Kelly’s ministry and confident our church was ready for a meeting of this type. The church was indeed ready and over the course of that 5 day meeting, there were several hundred decisions made for either salvation or re-dedication. I have never been part of such a spiritual harvest.

Within several years of that meeting I was invited to serve on Kelly’s board, and it gave me the opportunity to know Kelly on a personal level, and also the privilege to get to know some outstanding Christians who also served on the board. Kelly loved including his board members at his revival meetings if their schedule permitted. Prior to most of the meetings there was a time scheduled for counselor training when local church lay leaders were trained to deal with people who made spiritual decisions. Kelly would have board members and other strong laymen give their Christian testimony to the group in order to encourage everyone to use their spiritual gifts to minister. The testimonies were effective because they were from laymen and not from seminary trained preachers.

Kelly called me one evening to say he was doing a meeting within a month at the First Baptist Church in Grapevine, Texas and wanted me to give my testimony during their counselor training. That training was scheduled a week prior to the revival. My schedule had some flexibility, so I planned a 2 day break in my surgical schedule which allowed me time to drive the 6 hours to Grapevine and return the following day. The training meeting was to be held at 7 pm, so I had to leave prior to lunch in order to be there on time. As was typical of my schedule, there were unexpected patient problems, and I left home about an hour later than planned. I wanted to get to the church at least an hour before speaking so I could meet the pastor, a few of the counselors and check out the stage, the sound equipment and other technical things used in a large meeting of this type.

Grapevine is a suburb of Dallas near DFW Airport, so I got there with no problems; but I didn’t know the directions to the church, and this was prior to the use of GPS technology. I had to stop at 2 different places to ask directions, even though the church was one of the largest churches in Grapevine. I arrived about 10 minutes prior to the beginning of the training, so I barely had time to wash my face and hands. I discovered there was to be a 5 minute break in the program after the first 45 minutes of training, and I was to be the next speaker after the break.

The first part went quickly, and I don’t remember anything the speaker said. I was trying to get my thoughts collected, and to calm the anxiety and the feeling I was being rushed. I was thankful for the time to sit and relax a little bit after the tension-filled drive through Dallas traffic. During the break time I welcomed a hot cup of coffee which always has a relaxing effect on me. The coffee table which was covered with a clean, white cloth was located in the back of the large conference room. I was sitting on the back row and thus was the first one to the table at the break. I got my cup filled with coffee and wanted to add some creme and sugar, so I set the cup aside. The process  requires two hands especially when you are in a hurry. What I didn’t know was underneath the cloth there were two tables pulled together to make one large table. The tables were not exactly the same height, and there was a slight discrepancy in height where I was placing my cup. When I set the cup down, it tilted slightly, and fearing it would turn over I quickly reached for the cup and accidentally flipped it backwards dumping all the coffee directly into my lap. Fortunately I was not burned, but there I stood with a gigantic spot on the front of my pants that extended from just below my belt to slightly above my knees. It was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life and to compound the embarrassment I was scheduled within 3 minutes to stand in front of 250 people to give my testimony. There was no time to change my trousers and not enough time to allow the coffee stain to dry. Even if it had dried, there was still the monstrous spot!

I was hoping the podium was large enough to shield me if I stood directly behind it. When I focused on the podium for the first time, I saw it was the type that was transparent and offered no concealment whatsoever. These few minutes prior to walking to that platform were the most anxiety filled for me I can ever remember.  I just simply prayed the Lord would calm my emotions, and my testimony would bring Him honor. The person introducing me was saying some very nice things about “the surgeon who had driven such a long distance to give his testimony of how Christ had changed his life,” and then he said, “let’s give a big hand for Dr. John Moore from El Dorado, Arkansas!”

As people were politely clapping and I was walking the long walk to that platform I was certain that all eyes were focused on the front of my pants instead of my face. When the clapping stopped and I placed my Bible on the podium, I said, “I am so thankful to you and to the pastor for the privilege of being here tonight, and want all of you to know this;  I am not as scared as I might appear.” There was immediate laughter because I knew what everyone was thinking. I explained the cause for the giant wet spot on my trousers which had just happened not giving me the opportunity to change trousers. There was no more discussion about the coffee spot, and I was able over the next 15 minutes to tell of the work of Christ in and through my life in order to encourage those counselors.

God used a very embarrassing moment for me to get the undivided attention of everyone, so I know they heard what I said, and I trust they were edified. I was very thankful to the Lord it ended well.

Dr. John

“I’ve Got Some Bad News For You”

Compassionate Hands

One of the more difficult things physician should learn early in their practice is how to professionally but lovingly tell a patient or a family member some bad news. It may be the report of a biopsy which is positive for malignancy when everyone was praying for a benign report. It is not easy to tell awaiting family members, “I was unable to remove all of the malignant tumor and the prognosis for cure is very poor.” The most difficult thing I had to do regarding my surgical practice was to tell a husband or wife their loved one had just died. There are no standard methods for delivering bad or tragic news, and there is no perfect place to go that makes it any easier either for the physician or the family. I have been on the giving and receiving sides of bad news reports, and having the right attitudes and the right words take on new significance. During my training years I watched as a few teachers and colleagues delivered reports to anxious family members in such a calloused and insensitive manner, and I learned some things I should never do or say. Those kind of attitudes and actions came from hearts which had never been broken, or perhaps from hearts that had been broken so often they had become hardened. I suspect the former was more often the case.

From the professional side an important and necessary function of the physician is  keeping the family well-informed of all available medical information and up to date the progress of treatment being given. My brother Berry Lee (Bubba) was one of the best medical practitioners I ever served alongside, and he had a wonderful bed-side manner. All of his patients loved and trusted him completely, and I was able to learn from him how to serve people when reports were bad and occasionally tragic.

Bubba had been the family physician of Henry and his wife Irene for many years, but I had not met either of them until Henry was in severe heart failure and a patient in the Intensive Care Unit. He was in his late 70’s in age and had been in declining health for the previous 5 or 6 years. In addition to heart disease he had diabetes and hypertension neither of which were under good control. His wife Irene was an excellent cook, and as a result of their poor eating habits both were at least 100 pounds over- weight. Bubba had me examine Henry in regarding a large, painful abdominal  hernia which needed to be repaired at some point, but his failing heart prevented a safe operation at that time. Over the next week Henry got progressively worse, and he became semi-comatose because of the lack of blood flow to his brain. Bubba was seeing Henry at least twice daily and keeping Irene informed and up to date on his critical condition, while assuring her that everything was being done to help his heart grow stronger. Irene spent most of her time either at Henry’s bedside or in the waiting room where family and friends would come for a visit. The only time she left the hospital was to go home for a quick shower and to put on a fresh dress. She could see Henry was getting worse each day, but despite the fact he was now comatose, she still believed the Lord was going to strengthen his heart and heal him. Bubba told her multiple times Henry might not survive this illness, and she needed to be prepared for his death. She would respond with the words, “I’m just trustin’ in the Lawd for Henry to get well.” Bubba would reassure her of the Lord’s presence with Henry, and he would continue to pray for Henry to recover and for Irene to have the “peace that passes all understanding.”

I was in the ICU one afternoon seeing another patient, when I noticed lots of activity in Henry’s room and suspected he had just died. As I entered the room, Bubba confirmed Henry had departed and asked if I would accompany him to tell Irene the bad news. The nurse said she did not know where Irene had gone, but suspected she had gone home for a short while. Bubba and I walked into the hall just outside the ICU and were planning to take her to a small adjacent room where we could have privacy. At that moment Irene came around the corner and seeing us together, immediately approached. In his usual quiet and gentle tone of voice, Bubba said, “Irene, we need to go into this room and talk. I’ve got some bad news for you.” He tried to lead her by  grasping her shoulder. She pulled back a bit and questioned, “Henry didn’t pass, did he?” Bubba hesitated, “Let’s go into this room–.” Irene persisted, “Did Henry just pass?” she blurted. “Yes Irene he did, let us go talk about it.” Before he could take a step Irene grabbed Bubba in a hug and with a scream of anguish let her full weight collapse onto him. He was not prepared and was so off-balance he fell to the floor with Irene falling on top of him. Henry’s medical chart flew out of his hand scattering in the hall and Bubba’s glasses were dislodged but fortunately not broken. I was stunned at the scene which had just unfolded and at first glance seemed comical except for the sad circumstance which had caused it. Fortunately I had enough composure to help them up and to assist Bubba in getting her into a private room where she could vent her full emotions. When she calmed a bit we were both able to pray, thanking God Henry was safe in His arms and asking Him to gently begin healing Irene’s broken heart. When we left the room, Bubba assured me he was not injured despite never having experienced such a thing.

This incident of bringing bad news to a loved one taught me to be flexible in every situation, because one never knows how that one might respond. A physician must have a professional demeanor, and I discovered it is not a sign of weakness or unprofessional conduct to occasionally cry with a patient or family member. Every sincere expression of loving-kindness is needed, but in the best interest of family or physician it is better not to get pulled to the floor while doing so!

Dr. John

A Mission Trip To Donameeka

You may not have ever heard of Donameeka, or know where it is located, or know it is a fertile field for mission work. I learned all about the little country when we first met Grandma and Grandpa Luther. We had been discussing the responsibilities of all Christians to go around the world and carry the gospel message, and Cathy and I were telling them about our experiences on a mission trip to Budapest, Hungary. Grandpa told us he and Grandma had recently gone to Donameeka to take the good news to the island. Since I had never heard of the island I had him repeat the name and he clearly said “Donameeka.” After a few more questions concerning the island’s location and its’ approximate size I finally determined the site of their mission trip was Dominica which is a tiny Caribbean island in the Lesser Antilles region. When I thought I knew the actual name of the country I said to Grandpa, “You mean the Republic of Dominica?” He replied with a chuckle and one of his typical responses, “I guess that’s it – whatever you want to call it!” He continued calling the island “Donameeka.”  We have heard him say it so often it is now what we call it. It is hard for me to pronounce it “Domineeka.” When Grandpa described their trip to the island their experience had an unusual “Luther twist,” just like the name of the country.

About six months prior to their journey both Grandma and Grandpa were attending a Child Evangelism Fellowship conference in Florida. There they heard a missionary from Dominica speak of the opportunities for witness for the Lord Jesus, and the open doors which were present on the tiny island. They heard the country had a total population of less than 80,000 (similar to ancient Nineveh), and it was the prayerful goal of the Dominican missionaries the entire population would soon be saved. The Luther’s began praying for the people of the island, and the missionaries would have the supernatural power to witness to every person. After praying for the missionaries for several months Grandma told Grandpa the Lord had told her they needed to go to Dominica to aid in the mission effort. Grandpa told her to “buy the tickets and we’ll go there, if this is what the Lord told you.” She contacted the Dominican missionary to coordinate the best dates for them, and when a date was settled for their arrival the missionary would meet them at the airport. He told them the flight from Miami arrived in Dominica about midnight.

They drove their van to Miami in order to save the money of an expensive flight from Northwest Arkansas. The drive to Miami took almost two days, and they slept in their van at a rest area in Alabama to save the additional cost of a motel room. They boarded the plane in Miami for the two and one half hour flight and when they arrived, Grandpa said the airport was very small with only a few people there. As they entered the terminal the missionary was nowhere to be found.

After about an hour’s wait, they asked the only person at the airline counter if he knew the missionary they were seeking, and he said he had never heard of him. He also told them he knew most of the missionaries on the island of the Dominican Republic! Grandpa said in his usual loud voice, “I thought this was supposed to be Donameeka!” In the midst of this new surprise and confusion they discovered when Grandma called the airline to book their tickets, the agent misunderstood her and booked two seats on a flight to the Dominican Republic. Neither Grandma nor Grandpa had checked their tickets to discover the error.

They asked the agent at the terminal what could be done, and according to Grandma, the only thing he knew was contact a local law enforcement officer whom Grandma called the “Chief of Police.” When he finally arrived he told Grandma she needed to accompany him to his headquarters where he could make the necessary phone calls to get them back on their journey. In the meantime Grandpa had gone to the restroom without telling Grandma where he was going, and when she couldn’t find him she went alone with “the Chief” to his station.  When Grandpa began searching for Grandma he was told “she went off with the Police Chief.” Grandpa just sat down and waited.

When she finally returned about an hour and a half later she had obtained tickets for a flight back to Miami where they could book another flight to their intended destination of Dominica. Apparently there were no flights from the Dominican Republic to Dominica. She also told Grandpa she had a chance to witness the love of Jesus to the “Police Chief,” and he had prayed to receive Christ as his Savior. Grandma never missed an opportunity to witness for her Savior, and she had this law officer all to herself for over two hours!

They finally made it safely to Dominica and connected with the missionary. They said the time spent in “Donameeka” was a wonderful learning experience for them, and they were able to tell countless people on the island Jesus loved them and that He came to earth as a man to save them. In recounting this story to Cathy and me, Grandma and Grandpa were not sure just how many people on “Donameeka” were saved during their trip, but they did know for sure the ” Police Chief on that other island” was saved. He could have been the very reason God sent them on this particular mission trip (with a slight detour).

Dr. John

“I Am A Black Belt Karate”

Karate Black Belt

Karate Black Belt

Some of the most humorous experiences I had as a surgeon came as a result of doing vasectomy for men desiring to have the procedure as an outpatient in my office. I had not been trained in the procedure during my residency training years. The skills I developed then were more focused on major operations such as gall bladder surgery, colon and stomach surgery and numerous cancer treatment procedures. I did my first vasectomy while serving in the Air Force, and when word got out on our base I was doing them the demand sky-rocketed. I soon was scheduling as many as five vasectomy cases per week and was doing them every Friday. I continued at this pace for most of the two years I served in the military. When I began my surgical practice in El Dorado, Arkansas I decided to continue offering the service with the  blessings of the local urologist who was the only doctor offering the service then.

For a man to have the procedure I required he be in a stable marriage, then I would have both he and his wife come in for a consultation during which I would fully explain the procedure. I would use a simple drawing to show exactly how the operation was done, and allow either of them to ask any questions they might have. I offered a mild sedative to the husband to be taken a few hours before the procedure to help relieve any anxiety. With the sedative and use of a local anesthetic just prior to the procedure there would be very little pain experienced. I also advised a simple shaving prep the night before which would shorten the procedure time and avoid some of the discomfort and embarrassment. I believed the time spent and the  information given would lessen the fear factor every man has concerning this operation.

John E. and his wife came for a pre-op visit requesting a vasectomy, and I went through the entire process with them. I was acquainted with him from high school days but didn’t know him very well. He had always seemed friendly but had what is now referred to as a “red-neck” type personality. I recall on this visit his wife had a few questions which I answered, but when I asked if he had any questions, he responded with, “Nope. Let’s get on with it!” I scheduled the procedure for the following week on a Friday afternoon.

On the appointed day John came into the procedure room wearing his usual John Deere ball cap and with a cheerful countenance which led me to believe he had taken the sedative. When I asked if he had taken the pill to help him relax he had a quizzical look on his face and said, “I didn’t know anything about a pill.” I should have known he didn’t hear a word I had said the week before. As I was getting him ready for the operation I saw he also had not done the simple shaving prep I requested. I was a bit aggravated I had to take the time to do what should have already done. Besides the shaving always left shaving residue which a shower the evening before always removes.

With all the preliminary steps completed John leaned back with his hands behind his head, and with his cap still on he said, “I’m ready to go.” I got the syringe with the very tiny twenty-five gauge needle used for the local anesthetic, and he looked down and asked, “What is that for?” I again explained the use of a local anesthetic, and he said, “Doc, you may not know this about me, but I’m a black belt karate, and I have taken blows to my body which would kill a bull, and I didn’t feel any pain at all. When I get myself psyched up I just don’t feel pain. I don’t think I need an anesthetic shot” I said, “Well since you are now psyched up you won’t feel this little needle stick which will only last for 3 to 5 seconds.” The instant that needle entered his skin, his “psyched-up black belt karate” flew out the window and he screamed the loudest scream every heard in my office! He also used several crude, profane words, which I quickly let him know he could not use again in my office.

For the next ten minutes, he squirmed and sweated like no other man on which I had done a vasectomy complaining all along this was the worst thing he had ever endured, and I was killing him. I knew very well from long experience the operative field was numb, and what he was “feeling” was due to a bad case of nerves. Just before I put in the final sutures he suddenly sat up and vomited a huge amount of stomach contents directly on the operative field. The vomitus looked like partially digested chili. I let it sit there a short time while he settled down and I asked, “John, did you just eat?” “I had a bowl of chili just before I came in.” “John, I told you last week not to eat lunch or anything for 6 hours before you came in so your stomach would be empty! If this gets infected it is all your fault.” As he lay his head back and I began cleaning up the mess, John said, “I feel a whole lot better now.” I didn’t respond to his remark fearing I might say something which would be unkind and very unprofessional.

John and I both recovered from the trauma that afternoon. I’m happy to report at his post-op check a week later he couldn’t recall many details of what had happened the week before, except he had gotten sick. It took me several more days to see any humor in the whole affair. After talking with him I think he still believed he could get himself psyched up to the point of feeling no pain. I never had another chance to prove him wrong, nor did I ever want to have the chance. That we both survived was good enough for me.

Dr. John

Grandma and Grandpa Luther

Grandpa and Grandma Luther

Grandpa and Grandma Luther

When our younger daughter Ginny married John Luther from Fayetteville, Arkansas in 1995 Cathy and I became related by marriage to both the Luther and Bigger families. Both families have lived in Northwest Arkansas for several generations and are some of the most wonderful people and strongest Christians we have ever known. Both sets of John’s grandparents were living at the time of the marriage, and the relationships we developed with them over the next ten years were life changing for us.

When we met them Grandma and Grandpa Luther had lived on the same farm in Savoy, Arkansas for the sixty-five plus years of their marriage. Savoy is a picturesque community located near Lake Wedington about twelve miles west of Fayetteville. Both Grandma (Frances) and Grandpa (Fay) were born and raised in the community and never moved away for any significant period of time. He was an expert farmer and cattleman having learned the skills from his father and his brothers while working with them. After their father died two of the nine brothers, Fay and Roland stayed on the farm and continued farming and raising cattle.

Upon meeting the Luther’s we discovered what strong Christians they were, and the heart  each one had to witness for the Lord Jesus. Grandpa looked me in the eye and his first words to me were, “How old were you when you were saved?” I had a ready answer for him and said, “I was thirty-seven years old and am ashamed I waited so long!” He chuckled and said he was like me and had wasted a lot of living before he finally found Jesus. Every person I introduced to Grandpa following our initial meeting he asked them the same question, including my pastor in El Dorado at the time.

Their modest home on their beautiful farm reflected their character and lifestyle, nothing fancy but warm and welcoming. When Cathy and I were living in South Arkansas and would come for a visit with our kids going to Grandma and Grandpa’s home was always on our agenda. Often Grandma would have a three or four course meal prepared, and it included some of my absolute favorite dishes like chicken and dumplings, fresh corn, home-grown tomatoes, home-made rolls and her famous strawberry jam. I would brag on her jam so much she always insisted we take a couple of jars home with us.

Something I learned early about the Luther’s was they never locked the doors of their home. If the doors did have locks they were long since rusted from disuse. On more than one occasion they awakened in the morning to discover a  visiting missionary couple in the guest bedroom who had arrived after the Luther’s had retired to bed. The visitors knew the house was unlocked and rather than awaken the Luther’s would go to the guest room and retire. Grandma always told family and friends, “If Fay and I are asleep when you get here, come on in and make yourself at home!”

One Christmas Cathy and I received a letter from Grandma in which she wrote, “It was great to have visitors this year from California, Colorado, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Maryland, Virginia and West Indies to share our home that our Great God has given us to use. This isn’t really our home. We are just sojourners here.” I have every letter Grandma wrote to us, and they are treasures.

Of all the things I admired and loved about them one standing above the others was their continuous witness for the Lord Jesus. Every conversation led to a discussion of God’s amazing grace, and how fortunate they were to tell folks the good news that Jesus saves. I have had the privilege of knowing and serving with some of the greatest preachers in the world, but I have never known soul winners who compared to the Luther’s. Who could imagine this simple farm couple from a tiny community in Northwest Arkansas would lead over 1200 people per year to Christ for over 40 years? Only God could do that through them.

Their method for soul winning was as uncomplicated as their lives. Each year during the farming season they would save enough money to take a two month break in the late summer and early fall during the county fair and rodeo seasons. They would drive their van with a small trailer attached, both packed full of clothes and supplies. They tried to attend every county fair and rodeo in a three-state area. They would sleep in their van to save the expense of a motel room. On the fairgrounds they would set up their booth, which included a long table with eight chairs. Grandma would sit at the table and tell the people seated with her about the wonderful love of her Savior. She made certain they knew He loved them and  He died for them so they might be saved. In the ten to fifteen minute session it was not unusual for three or four of her guests to make a profession of faith to receive Christ as Savior. Grandma’s testimony was sincere, compelling and very convicting.

While Grandma was making her presentation Grandpa’s responsibility was to walk around the midway talking to everyone he encountered. He was extremely friendly and a master at making conversations with total strangers. He invited them into their booth to “hear some good news from Frances.” He was so convincing with his invitations people were usually standing in line waiting to sit at Grandma’s table. All the while they were waiting Grandpa was telling them how wonderful it is to be saved, and God wanted to do this for them. In the course of the six to eight weeks of the fair and rodeo season they would lead as many as one thousand four hundred people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. They were an incomparable team!

By the time we met the Luther’s they had been doing their county fair and rodeo ministry for over forty years and were in their mid-eighties in age. The fairs and rodeos were always during the hottest time of the year, and they would stay at their booth from nine o’clock in the morning until the fair closing in the evening. The few times we visited during a fair the temperature was so hot I had difficulty staying in the heat for more than a few hours. Grandma once told me, “Oh Dr. John, I just wish Fay and I could do more. I don’t know who will take our place when we leave here!”

It was so special to see them in public such as at a Razorback basketball game which they loved to attend. They would be sitting holding hands and Grandma would usually be napping with nineteen thousand crazy fans jumping and screaming all around them. When she  awakened she would always say what a fun time she had at the game.

Fay and Frances departed this life when they were both in their mid-nineties in age having been married for seventy-five years. Frances died about a year before Fay. Throughout the following year while waiting for the Lord’s timing whenever I saw him he would say, “I miss Frances more than I ever thought. I just wish I had told her more often I loved her.” I’m confident he is now making up for lost time.

When they finally entered their rest and were greeted by their Savior I can imagine He said to them, “Well done my good and faithful servants. You have sacrificed much by loving so many in my Name and have brought these precious souls into My kingdom.” I can see Him turn and point to the fifty thousand or more cheering and grateful saints they loved and led to Him.

Dr. John

The Prayer At Commander’s Palace

One of the best known restaurants in New Orleans is Commander’s Palace located in the historic Garden District. They have been serving delicious French and Creole cuisine in the location since the turn of the 20th century. When Cathy and I moved to New Orleans in 1965 to begin my training in surgery at Charity Hospital we could only dream about dining in a restaurant as elegant as the Commander’s Palace, because we could not afford such luxuries. My salary during those four years never exceeded $500 per month, so Cathy’s salary as an elementary school teacher was our primary source of income. Our few dining-out experiences were limited to small cafes known only to locals, and much less expensive than the well-known restaurants like Commander’s Palace, Antoines, Brennans and The Court of Two Sisters.

We were always thrilled when Cathy’s parents from Florida or members of my family came to New Orleans for a visit. In addition to having fun and getting caught up on all family news, it usually meant going to a restaurant or two which Cathy and I could not ordinarily afford. Most of the time we still avoided the very high end restaurants, because they were too fancy for our tastes despite the lure of exquisite food.

Cathy and I were very pleased but shocked when one evening in fall of 1967 we received a phone call from my brother Berry Lee (Bubba) asking how we were doing, and saying that he would like to come for a visit very soon. He was coming alone because LaNell had to stay home and care for their four children. We told him he could come as soon as he could arrange his work schedule and  could stay as long as he wanted. The thing which surprised us was knowing Bubba was such a home-body and seldom if ever paid a social visit with anyone especially without LaNell. We were elated at this sudden change. What we did not know was Bubba had recently experienced a spiritual conversion, and he was more concerned about our spiritual condition than ever before. He was coming to visit for the purpose of witnessing Christ to his little brother and new sister in law! Had we known what was about to happen we might not have been so eager to have him come for a visit.

Earlier I had received a phone call from an El Dorado business man telling me my brother had recently had some type of spiritual conversion and was acting very strangely at the hospital. Within the first 15 minutes of Bubba’s presence in our small apartment both Cathy and I agreed he was different. All of his conversation was colored with remarks about his spiritual conversion and how the Holy Spirit now had control of his life. Bubba had spoken with me in the past about character and clean, moral living, but I had never heard him use terms like “Savior, the Lord Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.” These overt changes in his attitudes and conversation made Cathy and me very uncomfortable. Neither of us at the time had been spiritually converted, and whenever possible we changed the subject from religion to something less intimidating.

Bubba suggested we go out for supper that evening, and he wanted to take us to Commander’s Palace. He had been there once, and said he could still remember how delicious the food had been. We heartily agreed this was a good choice knowing he would pay for a meal we couldn’t afford. When we arrived I was surprised how nice it was and what a variety of wonderful sounding food was on the menu. We continued with our conversation which began at our apartment, but with as little focus as possible on spiritual things. We were getting caught up on everyone at home, and what it was now like for him in a solo medical practice without Pop who had died a year earlier.

When our food was brought to the table it looked and smelled wonderful. When everyone was served, I politely began eating when Bubba said, “Wait, we haven’t done something important – we haven’t prayed.” Up to this time in my immediate family we would recite a simple memorized prayer before a meal, but it was always at home. I was 28 years old and had never been in a restaurant when a prayer was said out loud, either at my table or at any other table for that matter. When Bubba started praying, seemingly too loud I was certain everyone in Commander’s Palace was staring at us. In addition what was later typical of Bubba and his prayers, he followed the Biblical mandate of praying without ceasing (or so it seemed)! This was one of the most embarrassing moments ever for me and also for Cathy as she later told me. I was convinced without a doubt Bubba had gone crazy at least in the spiritual realm!

I don’t remember a thing I had to eat that evening at Commander’s Palace, but I do remember his long prayer. I am ashamed of my attitude then toward Bubba’s witness. He was simply being obedient to the command of the Holy Spirit, and I was thinking he had lost his good sense and judgement. We have not been back to Commander’s Palace, but if we ever get to dine there again we will definitely pray before we eat and won’t mind if any heads are turned because of praying out loud. You see both Cathy and I were later redeemed and now sing from experience the words to the wonderful hymn; “We once were lost but now are found; were blind but now we see!”

Dr. John

“Your Brother Has Gone Off The Deep End”

I have always had the highest esteem for my older brother Berry Lee (Bubba). From earliest remembrance he was my hero on many levels. He was an outstanding student throughout all his academic years; he was an excellent athlete in football even playing for the Arkansas Razorbacks; he had a sterling character and best of all he spent lots of time teaching me many sporting skills and talking to me about character. If I ever thought he had a fault it was he was too meticulous with details, and he always insisted I mind our parents without  questions.

When Bubba completed his internship year and then served two years of active duty in the Air Force, he and his wife LaNell decided to return to our hometown in El Dorado, Arkansas where he would practice general medicine with our Pop. Most people thought Bubba would go into some type of academic medicine, because he was so brilliant throughout medical school graduating at the top of his class. While he worked hard to build a successful medical practice he also became involved in numerous civic projects. He was one of the more prominent members of the Republican Party of Union County when it was very unpopular to be a Republican in a predominately Democratic state. He led the fight locally to get Barry Goldwater elected President, but Goldwater was soundly defeated. Everything Bubba put his hand to he did with great zeal and fervor. Pop would occasionally ask him, “What are you crusading for these days?”

Bubba and Pop practiced medicine together for eight years, while Pop’s health gradually deteriorated. Pop departed this life in January, 1966 and Bubba continued in a solo practice. Cathy and I had already moved to New Orleans where I was in training as a general surgeon, and while there we kept in touch with my Mom and Bubba. We knew most of the important things which were occurring at home. What we had not heard; however, was in mid-1967 Bubba experienced a spiritual conversion as a result of the witness of several friends. His life was transformed, and we knew nothing about it.

Several months following his conversion I received a phone call from a prominent businessman in my hometown. I didn’t know him very well and only knew him by his reputation as a respected man in the community. He said to me, “I’ve got some bad news to tell you about your brother.” My first thought was Bubba had been seriously injured or had died, but it would have been strange for this man to call me instead of a family member. He said, “I believe your brother has gone off the deep end.” “What in the world are you talking about?” I said. He explained Berry Lee had “some type of religious experience,” and was at the hospital talking to his patients daily “about God, church and religious things! To make matters even worse, he is praying out loud with his patients and making an embarrassing scene for everyone else in the hospital.” Now I am mad at this man for accusing my hero of being an embarrassment, and I said to him in a firm voice, “Well, just what do you want me to do, have him committed to an insane asylum?” “No, he replied politely, I just wanted to make you aware of what was happening, so you perhaps could convince him to tone down.” “Thanks for the call and the information,” I said as I hung up.

This occurred during a time when it was very unusual for a physician to pray with patients and to witness Christ to them. I had never experienced anything similar in my training, so I wasn’t sure the accusation of which that man had accused Bubba was true or not. Neither Cathy nor I were believers so were not able to rejoice in Bubba’s love for the Lord Jesus and his bravery to withstand some of the silent and now vocal accusations of insanity.

It was almost 10 years to the day following this call when both Cathy and I had a spiritual conversion, and our lives changed as well. Since that day in 1977 I never heard anyone accuse me of being crazy until about 3 years ago just before Bubba died. We were laughing about the impact of the phone call back in 1967 and what many people thought and said about him in those days. He then paid me one of the greatest compliments I ever heard from him when he said, “As crazy as people thought I was in those days, you and Cathy became a lot crazier than I ever was!” As I hugged him good-bye I said, “Isn’t it wonderful to be crazy for Jesus?”

Dr. John

Staying At The Barclay Hotel

 

Hotel in Atlanta

I haven’t often attended the Southern Baptist Convention, but received a call from our pastor, Tommy Kimball about a week prior to the convention in June, 1991 asking me if I wanted to go that year. He was attending the meeting in Atlanta with our associate pastor, and another member who was a pilot that would be flying us there. Ronnie Woods owned a beautiful Beechcraft Bonanza and was an excellent pilot; so transportation would not be a problem. These conventions were always well attended, and a reservation at such a late date usually meant our hotel would be 8 to 10 miles away from the convention site. Ronnie was a seasoned traveler, and through his many connections found a hotel in downtown Atlanta within easy walking distance of the convention center. We were elated to have been so fortunate. We would not have to get a rental car with all that involves, and our only transportation problem was getting back and forth to the airport. Ronnie solved that problem by also arranging with the hotel to have a limo waiting for us. Ronnie was told that our hotel, The Barclay, was under new management, and had recently been remodeled. We were going to be one of their first guests since their grand opening was one week earlier. He was also told the hotel was located on Luckie Street. We resisted the thought that we were “lucky” to have found such a good deal. What I failed to remember from my internship days in Atlanta 25 years earlier, was that whenever we heard the police were bringing a patient to Grady Memorial Hospital ER from Luckie Street, it was usually a gunshot wound or a stabbing victim.

The limo from The Barclay was waiting for us at the airport, and I felt like a real dignitary from South Arkansas. Our limo driver was a very large Black-American named David, dressed in a neatly starched white uniform. The stark contrast of his skin color with the uniform, made him appear even larger. His limo was a new, white Lincoln Continental, which heightened my already high expectations for our stay in Atlanta. On arrival at the hotel, we were greeted by 2 doormen, also Black-Americans in white uniforms, and our luggage was moved quickly into the lobby. The lady at the check-in desk was an elegant Black woman named Esther, and she was very polite and efficient in the check-in process. As I looked around the nicely appointed lobby, all the hotel employees were Black-Americans dressed in similar white uniforms, and upon asking them their names, they responded with Biblical names.

I was rooming with the associate pastor, Ben Wasson and when we were settled in the room, we noticed an expensive leather folder on the coffee table. The folder had a letter of welcome to us as guests of the hotel and other material that explained some of the history of the acquisition of this property. The property was now owned by an organization called the Nation of Yahweh and the president of the organization was a man named Yahweh ben Yahweh. The folder had numerous photographs depicting the history of the organization and the man who founded it. It was mentioned in the history that the Nation of Yahweh was an all-black organization founded to improve the lives and the work potential of the black race all across America. One of their programs involved purchasing hotel property in poverty-stricken metropolitan areas primarily in the South, and making major improvements in order to promote economic renewal.

When I called Cathy to tell her we had made it safely, and the hotel was nice and clean; I also told her it was in a very rough area of downtown Atlanta. She said she was really worried about us, because she had just seen a special on ABC News, and it was an expose on the Nation of Yahweh! It mentioned that in some of the cities where the organization operated facilities, there were acts of significant violence associated with the inner workings of the organization, and even murder charges involving decapitation that had been filed. They were awaiting trial dates for the crimes. This news combined with what we had read in the folder, made us a little uneasy about our safety over the next 2 days, but since our arrival we had been treated with such courtesy and respect by the entire staff that we decided to stay put. They told us when we needed to go to the convention, they would be glad to drive us in the limo. They made it clear that if we walked the 3 blocks, we should go in pairs, or even all four of us together would be even safer. For small town guys from a peaceful community, that was very intimidating!

One evening at the close of the day’s meeting, we decided to dine in a well-known restaurant in downtown Atlanta, and took a cab over from the convention hall. When preparing to return, we told the cab driver we needed to go to the Barclay Hotel. “Where is that,” he said. “It is on Luckie Street.” He turned around and looked directly at our pastor and said, “Do any of you have a pistol?” Our pastor laughingly said, “ No, we have Jesus!” The driver said as turned around and began driving, “It’s good that you have Jesus, but a pistol plus Jesus would be even better!”

Throughout the night hours during our stay at The Barclay on Luckie Street, we heard intermittent sounds of the sirens of police cruisers, and on one occasion, we thought we heard the sound of a single gunshot. Not once during our convention experience however, did we think we needed a pistol for protection. There were some heated arguments on the convention floor between delegates, but as the love of Jesus prevailed between them, no other remedies were necessary. As for our experience with the accommodations and the staff at The Barclay, I would have recommended them at that time, if one were seeking a unique experience; however I would have also advised that you request having Yahweh David beside you whenever you were outside your room.

Dr. John

“Let’s Pray For A Boot”

Bledsoe Boot

Bledsoe Boot

The privilege of prayer is given as a gift to every believer, but the way prayer is handled is as different as each individual. There are many promises in the Word related to prayer including the necessity of praying, the frequency of prayer needed by every believer, the power of prayer and the swiftness of God’s answers when one prays. I had the privilege of experiencing each one of these four supernatural aspects of prayer one morning in the Wound Care Clinic at Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas where I was working at the time.

I had served many years as a general surgeon in a private practice, but when Cathy and I moved to Fayetteville to be near our daughter Ginny and her family, I made the transition to a wound care practice. My working hours were during the day, and I no longer was doing any type of operative surgery. This type of practice suited my personality and ministry very well, because I was able to spend more time with each patient. This gave me the opportunity to learn more of their needs, their fears and their faith. Because of the nature of wound problems I would usually see and treat most patients weekly for many months.

A significant number of our patients were diabetic and ulcerations of the feet and legs were common problems for them. A dreaded complication of diabetes is peripheral neuropathy which causes a loss of sensation in the feet and sometimes the hands. Most people who are not diabetic do not understand the sensation of pain is a protective mechanism which can prevent continuing injury to a foot or hand. A diabetic with a neuropathic ulcer on the sole of his foot can continue walking without pain, which causes infection and worsening of the ulcer. In some cases amputation of toes, the foot or even the leg becomes necessary. The treatment plan for a diabetic foot ulcer must include off-loading, which means no pressure on the ulcer site. One excellent method for off-loading is wearing a Bledsoe Boot, with which a person can still walk without having to use crutches or a wheelchair. One major drawback for the boot is the expense. They can cost as much as three hundred and fifty dollars, which will be an out of pocket expense if not covered by insurance.

I had been treating Rev. Robert S. for a diabetic ulcer on the sole of his right foot for several months with minimal success. He kept assuring me he was “keeping as much weight as possible” off his right foot, but his responsibilities as pastor of a small church made it very difficult. He was afraid if he didn’t keep going rather than take off work for several months, his church attendance which was already sparse would decline to zero. He tried crutches, but just couldn’t manage the many stairs in his life, and the option of a wheelchair was not feasible. I had briefly mentioned a Bledsoe Boot early in his treatment, but he had no health insurance, so I didn’t talk about a boot until his ulcer became severely infected and a major change in his treatment plan became critical.

I had told him early on a boot was very expensive but had not told him the approximate price. I explained he could wear the boot and the ulcer could heal while he could continue visiting and preaching, as well as meeting all his other pastoral responsibilities. When I told him the cost his response was, “Doc, I know I need to have one, and I might not ever heal without one, but right now there is no way I can afford to pay that much.” I said, “Brother Robert, let’s agree right now in prayer that God knows your need and perhaps He will put in on the hearts of some of your church members to help you buy one.” He and I both prayed, but his prayer seemed more impassioned than mine. The nurse bandaged his foot, we shook hands and I told him I would see him in a week.

I walked down the hall toward the nurse’s desk and noticed a well-dressed woman I had never met talking with one of our nurses. After introducing myself she said she represented a surgical supply firm in Little Rock, and wanted to know if there was anything from her company we might need. I told her I had a patient who needed a Bledsoe Boot, but he had no way to pay for it. “Do you know how I might get one at a reduced cost?” I asked her. “I sure do,” she said. “For some reason, I put one in my car this morning before I left Little Rock, and you may have it.” I was stunned our God had answered our prayers so quickly! I wanted to hug her, but just thanked her and told her what a wonderful and generous a gift it was.

When I walked back to Brother Robert’s treatment room, I left the boot just outside the door, and asked him, “What was it we just prayed?” “For God to supply a boot,” he hesitantly said. When I got the boot and handed it to him, I said, “God just sent you one!”  He shouted the loudest shout I think was ever heard in the wound clinic. I didn’t mind the noise distraction to the staff and the other patients, because I knew it was coming from a deeply grateful heart. I would have shouted with him, but thought it might not sound too professional. I was reminded in a very impactful way our God hears all the prayers of His children, He answers all of them according to His will, and a few He answers immediately. Brother Robert and I both were reminded when we have a need, God will meet that need, and the supply is on the way (from Little Rock) even before we pray! Phil. 4:19

Dr. John