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 in the field of urology, he trained many of the current physicians of the state of Arkansas in that 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 16 and finished college in 2 years.
If one was looking for a wild party and all that 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 that 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 then head of the Urology Department at the U of A Med Center. Over the next 20 years or so, I referred a few patients to him, and all of them did well reporting they were treated very well. I had an occasional phone conversation with him during that 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 Brother 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 a person! “How did that come about?”, I asked. He briefly told me of Dr. John’s conversion experience, and in that quiet 2 minute conversation I was brought to tears and wasn’t sure I could stand and publicly 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 4 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 4 years before and 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 said “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 that same drawer containing the letter he spotted a New Testament; unopened, which he had been issued by the Air Force about 15 years earlier. He looked in the table of contents to find where to find where Romans was located and the verse his Dad recommended. 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 that 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 that moment he knew he had been changed.
He said he went home that evening 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 calamity, but moved out. John said she was very mad at this sudden 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 that morning 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 clean the heart of the worst sinner to make him useful for the Kingdom. 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!