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

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“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 that 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 according to His will. 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 in which 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, and to learn more of their needs, their fears and their faith. Because of the nature of their 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 that the sensation of pain is a protective mechanism that 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, and in some cases, amputation of toes, the foot or even the leg. 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 $350, 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 that he was “keeping as much weight as possible” off his right foot, but his responsibilities as pastor of a small church, made that 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 one until his ulcer became severely infected and a major change in his treatment plan became critical.

I had told him early on that a boot was very expensive but had not told him the approximate price. I explained that 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 the 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 that 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 that 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 that 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 that I think was ever heard in that clinic. I didn’t mind that 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, that 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 were also reminded that when we have a need, God will meet that need, and the supply is on the way (from Little Rock) even before we pray!

Dr. John