When Cathy and I finally made the decision and moved to Largo, Florida in 1999, we had mixed emotions which were weighing heavy on our hearts. On the one hand, we were leaving everything in El Dorado and in Arkansas that was familiar and comfortable; our children and two grandchildren (at that time); the friendships developed over the previous 28 years; a church through which we had invested many years of service; a busy surgical practice that I thoroughly enjoyed; my Mom who was elderly and disabled; and many intangibles of living in a small southern town. On the other hand we were moving to Cathy’s home state where her brother and sister and their families lived, and to a large and exciting metropolitan area where churches were growing rapidly, and the church to which we were going to be on staff, was one of the leading Baptist churches in the state.The one thing which I believed God was calling me to do, and the prime and only motivating factor for the move was the opportunity to direct the medical clinic ministry of the church. Cathy and I later discovered there was a rumor circulating in El Dorado following our move that I had “lost my mind,” and couldn’t understand the significance of this move to Florida, and that Cathy was going along to protect and take care of me.
Initially on moving, we had to rent an apartment until we could find just the right house for us. Our apartment was located a few blocks from Starkey Road which intersected with Ulmerton Road, the main east-west road to the beach. Our church, the First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks was located on Ulmerton Road and the drive from our apartment to the church took about 15 minutes. Located at the intersection of Starkey and Ulmerton Road was a gaudy purple building which housed a XXX rated club that seemed to have some popularity in the area based on the number of cars in the parking lot. Whenever I passed that vile place, I would pray for the people who owned those cars, that God would turn their hearts back to Him and to their spouses.
Within a week of my arrival, Cathy was able to join me, and we began our ministry through the church. Throughout each week I was diligently studying and preparing to take the Florida Medical Board exam in December, in order to obtain a medical license, so we could open the church-based medical clinic. Together we started building the senior adult Sunday school class to which we were assigned. The first Sunday morning that we began the class, there were 5 precious souls that came. One was confined to a wheel chair; one was using a walker; one needed a cane, and a couple who had befriended us early and had agreed to help us build the class. They were near our age, were very active and didn’t need a device to stand or walk.
A special friend we made that first Sunday was Pixie Gordan, an 80 something year old widow, who despite her age and the inconvenience of a walking cane, was very active and spry. Pixie had such an out-going personality and a love for the Lord Jesus, that she was just plain fun to be around. The first time we met her she said she would be glad to help us build the class since she had a number of friends that were looking for a “good Sunday school class.” She assured us that her friends were not disabled, although that would not have made a difference to us. Cathy and I were excited to be part of a class that was growing and had a hunger for God’s Word.
Pixie called one day and said she wanted to meet us for lunch and discuss something she believed the Lord was telling her to do. Pixie was one of the oldest members in the class and despite her use of a cane, she was still driving and totally independent. We met at a favorite restaurant that was equidistant for Pixie and us. As we started on our appetizers, Pixie began describing her thoughts about the declining morality of our nation and especially the area in which we lived. She said it was breaking her heart to drive by places where pornographic magazines and movies were being openly sold and how this type of business was corrupting the minds of young people as well as adults. Then she mentioned the name of the club at the junction of Starkey and Ulmerton Roads where it was advertised that there were women employed for lewd and immoral purposes. She said she knew that those women had mothers and grandmothers who were also heartbroken over their employment and were praying for them just like Pixie and so many other Christians. She said, ” God wants me to go and tell the people who own that club, as well as the people who work there, that God loves them and He wants them to close it down because of the harm it is causing.” As we shook our heads in agreement that the club should be closed, I was thinking; I sure hope that God didn’t tell Pixie she was supposed to take her Sunday school teacher with her! She wanted us to agree in prayer for her and at the close of our meal, we did just that.
About 2 weeks later, Pixie called and asked us to meet her again for a report of her meeting at the club, and we were anxious to hear all about it. She said she had gone to the club with her Bible, and the only person she encountered was a young man in his mid-twenties in age, working at the front desk. She said he was very polite when she told him about the reason for her visit, but refused to allow her to go into “the back room” to talk to the employees or owners. He told her the owners would not permit people to talk to employees in that part of the business. Pixie said she asked him if his mother knew where he was working and he said she did not and agreed with Pixie how disappointed his mother would be if she knew. Pixie then prayed for him and for the other employees that God would convict them how wrong they were in their business. Pixie said she went back in another week and the young man was no longer working and the new man at the front desk was “not very polite,” and asked her to leave.
Cathy and I loved the heart and enthusiasm of Pixie, and admired her courage to do what most of us would like to do, but find a reason to decline. We are convinced that she accomplished what God sent her to do, and the young man she encountered was removed from that place of moral corruption. Who knows; he might now be the very person leading the fight against similar clubs in Largo and central Florida. We do know that God’s ways are much higher than our ways and His thoughts higher than our thoughts.