The Saving Love of a Father

Dr. John F. Redman was Chairman and Head of the Department of Urology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences for many years and has had a distinguished and outstanding career in urology. When he was appointed to the position at age 29 he was the youngest department head in the history of the medical center. During his long career he trained many of the current physicians of the state in his field, and he achieved numerous awards for his accomplishments. I knew “Johnny” Redman in medical school. He was in the 1963 graduating class a year ahead of me. I don’t believe anyone who knew Johnny in those days predicted what lay ahead for him, although he was a gifted and precocious student who graduated from high school at age sixteen and finished college in two years.

If one was looking for a wild party and all it entailed you had to find Johnny Redman, and he was front and center of the action. Because he was a year ahead of me and I wasn’t seeking an association with this crowd, I didn’t have much personal contact with him. I lost contact with him during my training years, but when I began my practice in general surgery in El Dorado in the early 1970’s I knew Dr. John Redman was head of the Urology Department at the U of A Med Center. Over the next twenty years or so I referred a few patients to him, and all of them did well and reporting they were treated very well by him. I had an occasional phone conversation with him during the time, but it was always concerning the patients.

In the mid 1990’s after Cathy and I had become believers and were very active at Immanuel Baptist Church I was invited to give my personal salvation testimony at the Arkansas State Baptist Convention. Our pastor David Uth was President of the convention, and he made the arrangements for me to speak at the First Baptist Church in Little Rock. While sitting on the front row of the church awaiting my turn to speak the pastor of First Baptist Brother Bill Elliff leaned over to me and quietly said, “The best soul winner by far in our church is Dr. John Redman.” I said, “You mean the Dr. Redman who is the head of urology at the medical school?” I was shocked at such a change in an individual. “How did that come about?”, I asked. He briefly told me of Dr. John’s conversion experience, and in that quiet two minute conversation I was brought to tears and wasn’t sure I could stand and speak. Here is the story I later confirmed from John himself when I called him that same week:

“I lived a wild life from the time I finished high school, and it continued through the years I became Department Chairman of Urology at the U of A  Medical Center. I cared nothing about spiritual things, had several failed marriages and was less than exemplary in my personal life. I hated the fact both my parents were committed Christians and were constantly telling me I needed to change my way of living and follow Jesus. My Dad was a physician in Fort Smith and understood the pressures of our profession, and he seemed more urgent in his witness to me. He was always kind but very persistent. I came to a point of frustration and anger and finally told both parents since all they wanted to talk with me about was religion I wanted nothing more to do with them. I cut off all communication and refused speaking with them or writing and never read any of their letters to me. It was not long after I had done this my Father died unexpectedly. I felt terrible about his death, but at least I didn’t have to hear any more about changing my life.”

About four years later John said he was moving into a new office at the medical center and was alone one evening arranging his desk. He was placing items from his previous desk into the new desk and saw a letter from his Dad written four years earlier but left unopened. He decided to read the last communication he ever received from him, knowing all the while the substance of the letter. “Sure enough,” he said. “In the letter he told me how much he loved me, how much he missed me and how badly he wanted me to get myself straightened out. In the lower corner of the letter he wrote a scripture verse, drew a circle around it and wrote “Do what this says!” The verse was Romans 10: 9 and 10″. John said he didn’t know where to even find a Bible, but in the same drawer containing the letter he spotted a New Testament which he had been issued by the Air Force about fifteen years earlier. He looked in the table of contents to find where to find where Romans was located. He read, If you will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

John said he sat there for a very long time thinking about the verse and finally in desperation called out, “God if you are really out there, I do want you to save me, and I confess you as my Savior.” John said he didn’t see lightening flashing or hear thunder rolling, but at the moment he knew he had been changed.

He said he went home and told his live-in girlfriend Anna (also a physician), they could no longer live together without being married. She did not understand this sudden change, but moved out. John said she was very mad at this drastic change in his attitude. In the months following John witnessed the Lord Jesus to Anna, and she also was saved. They subsequently married and joined First Baptist Church in Little Rock and were baptized.

Hearing the condensed version of this testimony while seated on the front row of First Baptist Church in Little Rock moved me greatly. It is more evidence no one is so far from God he cannot be saved from destruction, and God will transform the heart of the worst sinner and make it brand new. It also challenges us to never give up on a loved one. The love of a father and mother can powerfully lead a prodigal back to our saving Lord even years after they have departed!

Dr. John

Reversal of a Technical Foul

Signaling A Technical Foul

Football was always my favorite sport, but there were several reasons I never tried out for either the junior high or high school teams. I was tall and skinny, and it seemed I could not gain enough weight despite eating as much as I possibly could. There was not the emphasis then on strength training, so I was not particularly strong. I had to wear glasses, and without them it would have been impossible to play football. Contact lenses were new and not adapted for sports, so whatever sports activity I participated I had to wear my glasses.

Basketball and tennis were the two sports on which I focused during those years. I had discovered my skill level in tennis while attending a summer camp at Camp Stewart in southeast Texas when I was fourteen years old. I won both the singles and doubles titles for the camp, and from then on I was hooked on tennis as a secondary sport. Basketball was the primary sport in which I wanted to excel. It also worked well for me because basketball was a fall and winter sport and tennis was a spring sport.

I spent many hours practicing basketball during the junior high and senior high years, until by my senior year at El Dorado High School I was a starter on the Wildcat squad.  I have many wonderful remembrances of that year and have written about some of them in the story Wildcat Basketball.  Although I was 6′ 2″ in height I was not heavy enough or strong enough to be a very good rebounder. I played mostly on the perimeter as a shooting guard and seldom “mixed it up” underneath the basket. As a perimeter shooter I didn’t get many personal fouls and never fouled out of a game during the two years I was on the varsity squad. On one occasion I did get a technical foul which is more serious than a regular foul. Two technical fouls and you are tossed out of the game. There are various reasons for being assessed a technical foul, but the one I received was for making a smart aleck remark to the referee. He had called a regular foul on me which I didn’t think I deserved, and I said something like, “That was a terrible call– I didn’t even touch the guy and you missed it!” The referee held his hands to signal a technical foul on me which gave the opposing player 2 extra free throws. My coach Pel Austin was not at all pleased with me but left me in the game after a good scolding on the sidelines.

I remembered the incident well and the referee who was a regular high school referee named Dub Martin. He was a native of El Dorado and well-known in the area for being a man of great character and an excellent, no-nonsense referee. He and his family were very active members of Marrable Hill Chapel under the pastorate of Brother Sam Shepperson.  His son Charlie became a prominent Southern Baptist pastor. Years later I was privileged to serve on the staff for  Brother Charlie Martin at the First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks in Largo, Florida.

As a general surgeon for almost 29 years in El Dorado between 1971 and 1999 I had the privilege of serving many people with whom I had experiences during my formative years of growing up there. One of those patients was Dub Martin. He had an uncomplicated surgical problem which needed repair, and he came to me as a patient for that procedure. I had not seen him in years, but certainly knew about him and his reputation as a kind and Godly man. I was pleased and honored he selected me for his operation and made it known to him how grateful I was for the trust.

The night before the procedure I was visiting with him and explaining what he might expect during the operation and the anticipated recovery time for such a procedure. I could tell by his demeanor I would be able to add some levity to the situation so I said, “Brother Dub, before I pray with you about the operation and your healing, may I ask you a personal question?” He said, “Sure Brother John, what is it?”

“You may not remember what happened thirty-five years ago, but in a basketball game the Wildcats were playing against Camden you called a technical foul on me because you thought I was disrespecting your call of a foul on me. I got in serious trouble with Coach Austin over it, and I have never forgotten about it. Before I take you into the operating room and put you to sleep to do this operation, do you want to re-consider that technical foul?” I was grinning when I told him the account, and he knew I was having fun with him. I didn’t expect his retort.

“I have often thought about that call Brother John”, he said. “I was a referee for many years and made thousands of calls. In all those years I now believe this was the only call I made which was wrong, and right now I am reversing that technical foul!”, he said laughingly. “It’s never too late to ask forgiveness”, we both said joyfully before we shook hands and prayed together for his healing.

Brother Dub healed nicely, recovered well, and — I was set free from the stigma of a technical foul!! I just wish Coach Austin could have been there to hear it. 🙂

Dr. John