“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

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“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 heard of Donameeka or where it is located; or that it is a fertile field for mission efforts, but I learned all about that little country when I first met Grandma and Grandpa Luther. We were discussing the responsibilities of all Christians to go around the world to carry the gospel message, and Cathy and I were telling them about the experiences we had on a mission trip to Budapest, Hungary. Grandpa then told us that he and Grandma had recently gone to Donameeka to take the good news to that island. Since I had never heard of the island, I had him repeat the name and he clearly said “Donameeka.” After several more questions concerning the island’s location and its’ approximate size, I finally determined that 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 true 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,”  and I heard him say it so often, that is now what I call it. It is hard for me to pronounce it “Domineeka.”

As Grandpa was describing their trip to the island, their experience also had an unusual “Luther twist,” just like the name of the country. About 6 months prior to their journey, both Grandma and Grandpa were attending a Child Evangelism Fellowship conference in Florida, where they heard a missionary from Dominica speak of the opportunities for witness for the Lord Jesus, and the open doors that were present on that tiny island. They heard that 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 that the entire population would soon be saved. The Luther’s began praying for the people of the island, and that the missionaries would have the supernatural power to witness to every person. After praying for the missionaries for several months, Grandma told Grandpa that the Lord had told her they needed to go to Dominica to aid in that mission effort. Grandpa told her to “buy the tickets and we’ll go there, if that is what the Lord told you.” She contacted the Dominican missionary to coordinate the best dates for them to come, and when a date was settled for their arrival, the missionary said he would meet them at the airport. He told them that 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 2 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 2+ hour flight to Dominica 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 that he had never heard of him. He also told them that 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 determined that when Grandma called the airline to book their tickets, the agent misunderstood her and booked 2 seats on a flight to the Dominican Republic instead of Dominica. Neither Grandma nor Grandpa had checked their tickets to discover the error.

They asked the agent at this terminal what could be done, and according to Grandma, the only thing he knew to do, 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 on their way. 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.” 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 Dominica to the Dominican Republic. She also told Grandpa that 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 2 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 that 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 at that time, but they did know for sure that the ” Police Chief on that other island” was saved, and he could have been the very reason that God sent them on that 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 done as an outpatient in my office. I had not been trained in that procedure during my residency training years; rather I was trained to do 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 was so high I had to schedule 5 vasectomy cases per week every Friday. I continued at that rate most of the 2 years I served in the military. When I began my surgical practice in El Dorado, Arkansas, I decided to continue offering that service with the  blessings of the local urologist who was the only doctor offering the service at the time.

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 how I would prescribe a mild sedative to take the evening before the procedure to 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 explained a simple shaving prepthe night before which would shorten the procedure time and avoid some of the discomfort. I would give both the husband and wife the opportunity to ask any questions and welcomed them to spend as much time as needed during this visit. 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” 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 made me think 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 about any 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 required. I was a bit aggravated I had to take the time to do what he should have already done.

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 25 guage 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 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 expletive-deleted words, which I let him know he could not use again in my office.

For the next 10 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 nervousness. 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 at the moment which would be unkind and unprofessional.

John and I both recovered from the trauma that afternoon, and I’m happy to report at his post-op check a week later he didn’t recall too many details of what had happened except he had gotten sick. It took me a couple of days to see any humor in the whole affair. After talking with him I had the idea 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 desire to have that chance.

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 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 10 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 65+ years of their marriage. Savoy is a picturesque community located near Lake Wedington about 12 miles west of Fayetteville. Both Grandma (Frances) and Grandpa (Fay) were born and raised in that community and never moved away for any long 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 9 brothers (Fay and Roland) stayed on the farm and continued farming and raising cattle.

When we were introduced to Grandma and Grandpa Luther, we discovered immediately what strong Christians they were, and the heart they each had to witness for the Lord Jesus. Grandpa looked me in the eye and with his very first words said, “How old were you when you were saved?” I had a ready answer for him and said, “I was 37 years old and ashamed I had waited so long!” He chuckled and said that he was like me in that he had wasted a lot of living before he finally found Jesus. Every person that I introduced to Grandpa following our initial meeting, he would ask them a similar question, including my pastor at that time in El Dorado .

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. More often than not, Grandma would have a 3 or 4 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, that she always insisted that 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 a lock, they were long since rusted from disuse. On more than one occasion, they would awaken in the morning and discover a  visiting missionary couple from out of town, who had come in after the Luther’s had retired to bed. The visitors would know the house was unlocked and rather than awaken the Luther’s, they would go to the guest room and go to bed. Grandma would always tell family and friends who stayed with them, “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 that 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 usually led to a discussion of God’s amazing grace, and how fortunate they were to be able 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 that 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 2 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, and attend every county fair and rodeo in a 3 state area. More often than not, they would sleep in their van to save the expense of a motel room. They would set up their booth, which included a long table with 8 chairs at which Grandma would sit and tell the people seated at the table about the wonderful love of her Savior. She made certain they knew that He loved them, and that He died so that they might be saved. In that 15 to 20 minute session, it was not unusual for 3 or 4 of the ones listening, to make a profession of faith to receive Christ as Savior. Grandma’s testimony was so compelling and convicting, that over the course of 6-8 weeks at those fairs and rodeos, as many as 1000 to 1400 people yearly, heard about Jesus Christ and were saved. Grandpa’s responsibility was to walk around the midway talking to everyone he encountered, while inviting them into their booth to “hear some good news from Frances.” He never met a stranger, and 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 was not willing that any should perish but everyone should be saved. 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 40 years and were in their mid-80’s in age. The fairs and rodeos were always during the hottest time of the year, and they would stay at their booth from 9 in the morning until the closing that 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 watch them in public, such as at a Razorback basketball game which they loved to attend. They would be sitting holding hands, and usually Grandma would be napping with 19,000 crazy fans jumping and screaming all around them. When she would awaken, she would always say what a fun time she had at the game, which I never doubted was true. Fay and Frances departed this life when they were both in their mid-90’s, having been married for 73 years. Frances died about a year before Fay, and during that year while he was 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 that 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 whom they so faithfully served, He told them, “Well done my good and faithful servants. You have sacrificed much by loving so many in my Name. You have brought these precious souls into My Kingdom,” as He turned and pointed to the tens of thousands of cheering and grateful saints they had loved and led into His presence.

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 that 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 our four years there never exceeded $500 per month, so Cathy’s salary as an elementary school teacher was our primary source of income, and she wasn’t making much more than I. Our few dining-out experiences were limited to small cafes known only to locals, and much less expensive than the well known places 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 with them and getting caught up on all the things happening in their lives and ours, it always meant we got to go out to eat in a restaurant or two that 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 the wonderful food.

Cathy and I were very pleased and almost shocked when one evening in fall of 1967 we received a phone call from 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 and care for their children while he was gone. We told him he could come as soon as he could arrange his work schedule, and he could stay as long as he wanted. The thing that was surprising to us was knowing that Bubba was such a home-body; seldom ever going away from home to visit anyone, and now he was calling to ask permission to come visit us. We were elated at this change in his personality. What we did not know was that Bubba had recently experienced a spiritual conversion, and he was more concerned about our spiritual condition than he had ever been. He was coming to visit with the underlying purpose of witnessing Christ to his little brother and his new sister in law! Had we known what was about to happen, we might not have been so eager and excited to have Bubba come down for a visit.

I wrote in an earlier post that a businessman from home had called me just prior to this request from Bubba for a visit, and this relative stranger told me, “Your brother has gone off the deep end with some type of religious experience.” I dismissed this man’s evaluation very  quickly, since I knew there was not a man on earth more emotionally stable than my hero brother. Within the first 15 minutes of Bubba’s presence in our small apartment, I wasn’t so sure that the businessman’s evaluation was wrong. All of his conversation was colored with remarks about his conversion, and how the Holy Spirit now had control of his life. Bubba had talked 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.” I had not heard him talk about complete changes that had recently occurred in his thoughts, his actions and his habits. I do know that these changes in his attitudes and his conversation made Cathy and me very uncomfortable, so whenever we could, 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 that was a good choice, knowing that he would pay for a meal that we couldn’t afford. When we arrived, I was amazed how very nice it was, and what a variety of wonderful sounding food was on the menu. We continued with our conversation begun at the apartment, but with as little focus as possible (from our standpoint) 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 over a year previously.

When our food was brought to the table, it looked and smelled wonderful, and I couldn’t wait to taste it. When everyone was served, I politely began eating when Bubba said, “Wait, we haven’t done something important- we haven’t prayed.” In my immediate family we would recite a simple memorized prayer before a meal, but this 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, in what I considered a volume much too loud; I was certain that everyone in Commander’s Palace was staring at us. Also, as was 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 embassassing moments for me and also for Cathy, as she later told me. I was convinced without a shadow of doubt, that Bubba had gone crazy, at least when it came to religion!

I don’t remember a thing I had to eat that evening at Commander’s Palace, but I do remember a very long and loud prayer that embarrassed me then. I am ashamed that I had such a negative response to Bubba’s witness and his praying at the time, but both Cathy and I were able to tell him at a much later date following our conversion, what an impact he had on us, and how thankful we were for his prayers, no matter how long or how loud!. We have not been back to Commander’s Palace, but if we ever get to dine there, we will definitely pray before we we eat and won’t mind if any heads are turned toward us because of praying out loud. We  can now sing from experience and with great assurance, 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 written in previous posts what high esteem I have always had for my older brother Berry Lee (Bubba). From my earliest remembrance, he was my hero on many levels. He was an outstanding student throughout 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 for me as a young man, he spent lots of time teaching me many sporting skills and talking to me about character. If I ever thought he had any faults, it was that he was too meticulous in all details, and he always insisted that I mind our parents without any questions.

When Bubba completed his internship year and then served 2 years on active duty in the Air Force, he and his wife LaNell decided to return to our hometown, where he would practice general medicine with our Pop. Most people, including me, thought Bubba would go into some type of academic medicine because he was so brilliant throughout medical school; graduating at the head of his class. As he worked hard to build a successful private practice, he also became involved in numerous civic projects. He was one of the more prominent members of the Republican Party in Union County, when it was very unpopular to be a Republican in  Democratic South Arkansas. 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 8 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 we kept in touch with my Mom and Bubba, so we knew most of the important things that were occurring at home. What we had not heard; however, was that in mid-1967, Bubba had experienced a spiritual conversion as a result of the witness of several friends, and his life was totally different.

It was perhaps several months following his conversion, which Cathy and I knew nothing about, that I received a phone call from a prominent businessman in my hometown. I didn’t know this man very well and only knew him by his reputation as a respected man of the community. He said to me, “I’ve got some bad news to tell you about your brother.” My first thought was that Bubba had been seriously injured or had died, but it would have been strange for this man to call me and not a member of the family. He said, “I believe that your brother has gone off the deep end.” “What in the world are you talking about?” I said. He went on to say that Berry Lee had “some type of religious experience,” and was at the hospital every day talking to his patients “about God, church and religious things! To make matters worse, he is even praying out loud with his patients, and is making an embarrassing scene for his patients and everyone else in the hospital.” By now, I am mad that this man is 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 like that in my training up to that point, so I wasn’t real sure that the accusation of which that man had accused Bubba, was not true. Neither Cathy nor I were believers then, so were not able to rejoice in Bubba’s love for the Lord Jesus, and his bravery to withstand some of the silent and vocal accusations that he had gone crazy. It was almost 10 years to the day following this call, that both Cathy and I had a spiritual conversion, and our lives changed as well. Since that time 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 that 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!”

Dr. John