Wayne Barber and His Bubba Teeth

Dr. Wayne Barber

 

Cathy and I had the privilege of knowing and hearing some of the best preachers in the world as a result of our involvement in The International Congress on Revival (ICR). We joined in the work of this particular ministry in the early 1990’s as a result of our friendship with Brother Bill Stafford who was the President of ICR.

Brother Bill assumed the leadership of ICR upon the death of its’ founder, Brother Manley Beasley in 1990, and despite his demanding schedule as a Southern Baptist evangelist he was fully vested in ICR. He invited me to join the board of ICR which was meeting annually in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Brother Bill’s hometown. It was at the initial board meeting I attended Cathy and I met Wayne Barber and his wife Diane. Wayne was Pastor of Woodland Park Baptist Church, a large and growing Southern Baptist church in which Brother Bill and wife Sue were members. Other members of this church which we later met were Kay and Jack Arthur, founders of Precepts Ministry; Costel and Mia Oglice, Romanian missionaries for Precepts Ministry; Dorie Van Stone, Precepts missionary; John Ankerberg, prominent Christian apologist; and Dr. Spiro Zodiates, one of the world’s prominent  Greek Biblical scholars. There were many sweet and dedicated Christians who regularly attended Brother Wayne’s church, and Cathy and I loved being in that atmosphere!

I was on the board for 2 years before Brother Bill convinced Cathy and me we would have ministry opportunities in making the overseas conferences which were primarily held in western and eastern Europe. There were also meetings in those days in Australia and in South Africa. While I was on the board we added Ireland where  conferences were held for 2 separate years.

Our initial attendance of a conference in Austria was in February, 1993, and we were able to take Mary Kay, our older daughter and new husband Dave Janke along with our  younger daughter Ginny, who at the time was regularly dating her future husband John Luther. We all met in Innsbruck, Austria for a 3 day rest period before the conference in Salzburg, Austria began. It was in Salzburg we first heard Brother Wayne preach, and he was on the schedule for at least 4 sessions. There were 5 other preachers present in addition to Brother Bill, and the quality of preaching and worship was outstanding. From this initial ICR conference we attended, Cathy and I only rarely missed going overseas with the team and considered those meetings each February as spiritual highlights of the year.

Several years after our initial conference Cathy and I were able to invite our good friends Brother Tommy Freeman and wife Sharon to accompany us to an ICR conference which was again held in Salzburg. I have written 2 earlier posts concerning my love and appreciation of Brother Tommy, and the impact he has had on my spiritual growth. (Church Visitation with Brother Tommy, Oct. 2012; and The Prairie Grove Revival, Oct. 2015). Brother Tommy’s personality is one which is intense and focused, but he does have a good sense of humor. He had never met Wayne Barber nor heard him preach prior to this meeting.

Although Brother Wayne was an outstanding preacher he had a mischievous sense of humor, which could sometimes catch people who didn’t know him off guard. Wayne was a physically large imposing man who was 6′ 8″, weighing approximately 275 pounds, and his size alone commanded attention. He always had a huge smile with beautiful white teeth, and always acted as if he had never met a stranger.

By this time my brother-in-law and sister, George and Marilyn Berry from Austin, Texas had joined the ICR team, and we were all meeting at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta for our overseas flight to Austria. We met George and Marilyn first and introduced them to Brother Tommy and Sharon whom they had never met. Over the next 10-15 minutes we had a lively conversation recounting stories of our children, mutual friends and people from El Dorado, Arkansas with whom we had fellowship.

Coming down a long concourse we spotted Brother Wayne and Diane walking toward us. All of us except Brother Tommy and Sharon recognized them. Wayne had a huge smile on his face revealing a hideous pair of Bubba teeth! He bear-hugged all of us, and when we introduced Brother Tommy and Sharon, he bear-hugged them as well! None of us mentioned the teeth, but as I hugged Wayne I told him, “Brother Wayne you have never looked better!” After a few minutes Wayne and Diane excused themselves and moved back down the same concourse to greet other attendees.

When he had gotten out of voice range Brother Tommy asked, “John, did you say he was pastor of a large church in Chattanooga?” “Yes,” I said, “one of the largest churches in the city.” “Surely he must have a dentist in the church who would help him with his teeth problems.” “What problem is that?” I asked, while keeping a straight face. “Oh John, did you see those teeth of his? They would be a huge distraction while he is preaching.” “Brother Tommy, when he preaches he doesn’t open his mouth very wide and no one pays much attention to his teeth. Everyone in his church loves him and think he is a great preacher.” Brother Tommy continued, “John, somebody needs to help him with those teeth because they are only going to get worse. I think as a member of the board you ought to try to help him.” I didn’t comment further and didn’t say anything more about Wayne’s teeth.

Later in the day before our flight departed Brother Wayne visited with us again and had removed his fake teeth revealing his own perfectly white teeth. Nothing was said about the teeth, but Brother Tommy said privately to me, “John, I’m going to get you! You really got me on that one.”

Brother Wayne served the Lord at Woodland Park Baptist Church for several more years after this and then moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico to pastor Hoffmantown  Church until 2011 when he and Diane returned to Woodland Park. Although we were no longer serving in the ministry of ICR, Cathy and I along with Marilyn and George Berry were privileged to hear Brother Wayne preach again in 2013 at The Cove, which is Billy Graham’s Training Center in Asheville, North Carolina. George and I each carried a set of Bubba teeth, and at our initial reception with the Barber’s we grinned widely! He loved it.

Ironically Brother Wayne departed this life on August 29, 2016 at The Cove where he was scheduled to be the conference speaker. He had developed a form of ALS a few months prior, but was trying to finish his course well. Cathy and I, along with Marilyn and George praise God we got to know and love Brother Wayne. (Bubba teeth and all)!

Dr. John

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The Witness at the Sugar Bowl

 

 

 

Sugar Bowl January 1980

I have been an Arkansas Razorback football fan since 1946 when my older brother Berry Lee (Bubba) received a full scholarship to play during his college days. He was only able to play one year, because he was disabled by a career ending knee injury during his sophomore year, so I never got to see him play in a Razorback uniform. My loyalty as a fan has never waned despite some very lean years and only one national championship in 1964.

Shortly after our family moved to Arkansas in 1971 I infected our son John Aaron with the same zeal for the Razorbacks, and we have attended a number of games together including 3 post-season bowl games.One of the most memorable games we attended was the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans in January 1980 when the Razorbacks played the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. It was not the game itself which was so memorable because the Razorbacks lost the game 24-9, but the events in New Orleans which led up to the game. John Aaron who was 12 years old at the time and I decided to attend the game and enjoy a father-son get together with Dr. Joel Spragins and his son Mark who was 10 years old.

Dr. Joel Spragins is a gastroenterologist who practiced medicine for many years in  Shelby, North Carolina. We were classmates in medical school at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock and close friends during those years. He is the son of Dr. John Spragins who  formerly was President of Arkansas College in Batesville, Arkansas (now Lyon College) where Joel attended college. Joel was raised as a Presbyterian, but like me and by his admission during college and medical school days was nominal in the expression of his faith. Between our sophomore and junior years we spent 3 months together in Jacksonville, Florida doing an externship at Baptist Medical Center. We had a fun summer in the sun with the beaches available while making lots of new friendships. In addition we also learned some good medical principles from the staff physicians at the hospital.

While doing my 4 year surgical training at Charity Hospital New Orleans I became very good friends with Dr. Richard (Dick) Faust who was a staff physician and practicing surgeon at a large clinic in down town New Orleans. He and I co-authored an article on “Tetanus” which was published in a major surgical journal. In the interim between finishing my training and entering the US Air Force as a surgeon, I worked for 2 months in his clinic as a staff surgeon. He told me when I finished my  military responsibilities if Cathy and I ever wanted to move back to New Orleans, I would have a position waiting for me in his clinic. He also said whenever we visited the city we had an open invitation to stay with him and wife Margaret in their beautiful home on Henry Clay Avenue in the Garden District just off well-known St. Charles Avenue.

John and I invited Joel and Mark to join us as guests of the Faust’s while enjoying all the Sugar Bowl festivities. It was a perfect place for us because the Faust’s gave us their entire 3rd floor with a large suite of rooms and complete privacy. They did take us to dinner one evening, but otherwise we seldom saw them. According to Dick they wanted Joel and me to “give full-time and attention to our sons and not worry about them.” That’s the kind of friend Dick Faust was to me.

John Aaron and Mark made an immediate connection and really enjoyed talking and playing with each other. Their instant friendship made for an especially fun 3 days, because Joel and I already had a good relationship and conversation was always lively and sprinkled with lots of laughter.

I was able to tell Joel about the life-changing experience Cathy and I had in Dallas in 1977 when we attended the Bill Gothard seminar in the Dallas Convention Center.( A Shopping Trip To Dallas; Aug. 2012). I didn’t try to preach at Joel or even suggest he and his wife Jeanne should consider attending such a conference. Joel had lots of questions concerning our past and present lives and even asked John Aaron what he thought about his parent’s new attitudes and life styles.

On the morning of the game which was played in the early afternoon, we all went down-town to the Riverfront Hilton, which was the team hotel for a huge pep rally. The Razorback band was there along with the entire pep squad and what appeared to be thousands of Razorback fans all decked out in red clothing, Hog hats and Hog snouts. It was very exciting for all of us and had enthusiasm been the key to victory on the football field, we would have won the game hands down! Unfortunately our beloved Hogs were beaten by an excellent and superior team from Alabama.

When we returned to the Faust’s home for our final evening together before returning to our respective homes, Joel made the statement to me, ” I’ve never seen such a change in a person since the last time we were together. I want you to tell me more about that conference in Dallas and how Jeanne and I might attend!” I told him there was a  also a conference held each year in Charlotte, North Carolina which was only 50 miles from Shelby, and they could sign up for the early summer dates for that meeting. We also knew a couple we had met at an earlier conference named Gary and Virginia Cooper from Charlotte, and they contacted Joel and Jeanne and even invited them to stay in their home during the 4 day conference.

They did indeed sign up for the seminar, and Joel called me a few days prior to the start and asked, “Before we go over to Charlotte are you sure this man Bill Gothard is not some sort of religious fanatic, is he?”

I could hardly wait to hear their evaluation of the time spent in Charlotte, but Joel finally called to report he and Jeanne had a very special week together. They connected with the Cooper’s and made a new friendship in the Lord with them. Overall God had helped them strengthen their faith and marriage, and they were very grateful to have made the sacrifice of their time. He thanked me multiple times for encouraging them.

John Aaron and I had a wonderful time in New Orleans with Joel and Mark, and still talk about the weekend with fond remembrances when the subject is brought up. Despite  the final score of the game at the Superdome, we believe we were part of a big win for the Lord at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on January 1, 1980!

Dr. John

 

 

 

Forgiven

Operating Room

Dr. C. E. Tommey was one of the senior surgeons of The Surgical Clinic of South Arkansas and had been in practice in El Dorado with Dr, David Yocum for almost 20 years when I joined the clinic in 1974. Dr Bill Scurlock had joined the clinic about 4 years earlier than me. I learned a great deal of surgical techniques and practice management skills from these wonderful men. All three were men of extraordinary character and had faithfully served the people of south Arkansas with their surgical skills. There were several other trained surgeons in the area who were in solo practices, but their volume of work was nowhere near that of The Surgical Clinic which had a referral area extending out approximately 70 miles.

A scrub nurse while operating with him once asked Dr. Tommey the question, “How do you keep from making mistakes in the operating room?”, to which he immediately answered, “By experience.” She continued, “How do you gain experience?, to which he said, “By making mistakes!” I assisted Dr. Tommey and he assisted me on hundreds of cases over the 30 years of practice together, and I don’t remember any surgical mistake he ever made in my presence.

As in life when some mistakes are made in the operating room, there are no life-endangering consequences. However, other mistakes can be extremely costly, and unfortunately some can lead to the death of the patient. It is one of the unspoken fears of any conscientious surgeon to make a deadly mistake.

Early in my practice years I made a costly surgical error which had the potential of a major law suit, but through this painful experience I learned the immense and life-changing lesson of forgiveness.

Andy Jameison (fictitious name) was a prominent El Dorado businessman who developed a serious and life-threatening intra-abdominal infection. He was referred to me by his primary care physician, and an emergency operation was scheduled. Because Mr. Jameison was a large man, I asked one of my surgical partners to assist in what I knew was going to be a physically and emotionally demanding procedure. Despite being a long procedure it went well and Mr. Jameison began the long process of recovery and return to work. Over the following 3-4 weeks he was gaining strength but had a persistent area of pain deep in his abdominal cavity. I kept reassuring him it would improve, but it did not. Finally an x-ray was made of the painful area, and it was immediately discovered I had made a serious error in the procedure, and Mr. Jameison  needed an immediate re-operation. He was admitted to the hospital for an operation the next morning. At this point he knew the problem and what was required to correct it.

In terms of medical malpractice litigation the error I  made fit into the legal category of Res ipsa loquitor, which is interpreted as “The thing speaks for itself”. These cases are always settled for the plaintiff against the doctor. It was not so much I was dreading a medical malpractice suit, but I felt badly for Mr. Jameison having to go through another operation to correct an error which I alone had made. I dreaded the pre-op visit I would have to make the evening prior to the operation.

As I entered his hospital room Andy was alone, sitting up in bed reading a magazine, and when I came into the room, he cheerfully said, “Hi Doc. Come on in and have a seat.” I said, “Andy, I am so sorry this happened, and I caused you this problem.” Almost his exact words were, “Oh Doc, don’t worry about it at all. I’m just glad we found out the cause, and it can be corrected!” I didn’t respond, but he continued, “I know you feel badly about this, but I don’t want you to give it  another thought”. He reached over to his night stand and gave me a small book entitled The Greatest Thing In The World by Henry Drummond. Andy had written a brief note to me in the fly-leaf of the book. He said, “This book has meant a lot to me in times when I have been in distress, and I think you’ll enjoy it.” As I reached over to take the book from his hand I tearfully said, “Andy, you’ll never know how much this means to me in your forgiving me for this situation. I will never forget it.”

The operation the next morning fully corrected the problem, and Andy healed quickly with no further complications. He was able to return to work within 6 weeks. His hospital bill and surgical fees for the second procedure were fully forgiven. As a result of this incident the hospital instituted a new operating room policy which prevented future problems of this nature.

Andy could have significantly altered my future surgical practice had he been vindictive in his attitude toward me. Instead he chose to forgive me for my error. He taught me, my immediate family and everyone associated with this event, the immense and life- changing value of forgiving those who have harmed you. What I didn’t know about Andy’s forgiveness until much later was he told his family the night before the second operation, “If I don’t make it through this procedure, I don’t want any of you bringing legal action against Dr. Moore. He saved my life with the first operation.”

Andy Jameison is in glory now and his earthly lesson continues to live in my heart. How could I ever fail to forgive anyone who hurt me in any way when I have been forgiven so much? (Matt. 18: 21-35)

Dr. John

 

The Most Unusual Stab Wound

A Scalpel

A general surgeon with a busy practice in a small town will have the opportunity to operate on a large number of patients with a wide variety of surgical problems. The vast majority of these surgical problems are not out of the ordinary. In the 36 years I practiced medicine as a general surgeon I estimate I performed approximately 12,000 operations and assisted other surgeons on an additional 1000 procedures. Most of the unusual operations were related to a traumatic injury of some type, and often the full extent of the injuries were not determined until the operation was done. I have written several accounts of unusual major injuries I’ve encountered. (I Was Just Walking Down The Highway, Feb. 2017; Pinned To His Work, May 2013). I believe the most interesting and unusual stab wound injury I ever treated occurred in the operating room!

During the majority of the 30 years I was a general surgeon in El Dorado, Arkansas there were 2 hospitals available for patients to be treated. Even though the population of El Dorado in those days was approximately 20,000, the medical drawing area population approached 75,000 which supported having two hospitals. The physicians in general loved having two hospitals because we knew if we needed a particular piece of equipment we could get one of the hospitals to purchase it. There was continual competition between the two, and I believe it created an environment conducive to excellent medical care. I tried dividing my surgical workload evenly between the two hospitals, but ultimately the patient’s preference of hospitals was the deciding factor.

I was finishing a surgical procedure one morning at Warner Brown Hospital, when one of the circulating nurses came into my room and said I was needed urgently in an adjacent operating room. It was one of the rooms used for orthopedic surgical procedures and I knew Dr. John Giller was doing a case in that room. Dr. Giller was one of 4 orthopedic surgeons practicing in El Dorado at the time, and he was a good friend.

John and I graduated from El Dorado High School in the Class of 1957. He was the class president and destined to do well in his chosen field of medicine. Because we took different college routes, he was two years behind me and graduated from medical school in 1966. He took his orthopedic training at Wilford Hall Medical Center, the US Air Force Hospital in San Antonio, and following his military obligation for active duty he established his orthopedic practice in El Dorado with Drs. Ernest Hartmann and J. C. Callaway. John continued his Air Force commitment by remaining in the Air Force Medical Reserves and advanced to the rank of Major General in the Medical Corps. At his retirement in the late 1990’s he was the highest ranking medical officer in the Air Force Reserves. He was a very busy orthopedist in El Dorado.

As I entered the orthopedic operating room thinking Dr. Giller had a patient with a vascular problem for which he needed a general surgical consultation, I discovered an entirely different problem. Dr. Giller was sitting on a stool in the corner of the room, still in his sterile gown, looking very pale and said, “I have sustained a stab wound of the abdomen!” “How in the world did that happen?”, I asked while telling the nurses to take Dr. Giller’s vital signs.

“After using the scalpel to incise some soft tissue I handed the scalpel back to the scrub nurse, and she accidentally dropped it.. I reflexively leaned forward to keep the scalpel from falling on the floor; the scalpel caught on the side of the OR table with the sharp end pointed outward, and when I leaned forward I was stabbed in the abdomen!”

I told the nurses to help Dr. Giller to an adjacent empty room so I could thoroughly examine his wound to determine the next step. He said the procedure he was doing was completed except for the wound closure which could be done by his assistant. With Dr. Giller lying on the operating table, he had suddenly become a patient where moments before he had been the provider. I thoroughly examined his wound which was at mid-abdomen just below the naval, and with probing I determined the scalpel had penetrated the muscular wall, but had not penetrated internally into the intestinal tract.

I placed a sterile bandage on the wound, prescribed an oral antibiotic and advised Dr. Giller to take the remainder of the day to go home and rest. I don’t believe he followed my instructions which is typical of many doctors!

Dr. Giller recovered quickly from the physical effects of an accidental self-inflicted abdominal stab wound, but the emotional trauma and the light-hearted ribbing of fellow surgeons took a little longer. As far as I remember the scrub nurse involved in the incident also recovered quickly!

Dr. John

 

 

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 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!

Dr. John

 

 

 

 

Reversal of a Technical Foul

Signaling A Technical Foul

I have loved playing basketball since my brother Berry Lee (Bubba) first taught me to make a basket when I was about 6 years old. He was an excellent football player, but was so coordinated he was also good in most other sports. The best thing about him to me in regards to sports was he took time to spend with his “little brother” to teach me the fundamentals of the sports in which he excelled. I was especially captured by basketball and tennis and spent many hours practicing each one depending on the season. I was able to play on the varsity teams of both sports for the El Dorado High School Wildcats! I probably preferred basketball in those years because school excitement and support was greater for basketball and only few fans showed up for a tennis match.

My senior year in El Dorado High School I was a starter on the basketball squad, and I have many wonderful remembrances of that year. I have written about some of them on this blog. (Wildcat Basketball, Dec. 2015). Although I was 6′ 2″ in height, I was very skinny and was not heavy enough, nor could I jump hjgh enough to be a particularly 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, however, 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 bad 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, and 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. (God Will Make A Way- Our Ministry in Florida, Apr. 2016).

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 expected 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 25 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 regular foul on me which I did not do. 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

The Eternal Benefit of a Serious Wound

Diabetic Leg Ulcers

When one is suffering from the painful and embarrassing consequences of a non-healing wound it is extremely difficult if not impossible to appreciate any benefits as a result. Such was the case for Alex Johnson when he presented himself for treatment at the Wound Care Center of Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas.I was privileged to serve as one of the medical directors of that clinic during the years 2000-2005 and Mr. Johnson became one of my patients during my tenure.

Mr. Johnson was in his mid-80’s in age and had been seeking treatment of his lower extremity wound for several months prior to coming to our clinic. He was brought to the clinic by his daughter, Betty Ann and son-in-law Eddie Bradford. When I first met him we made a connection stronger than a usual doctor-patient relationship. He had a wonderful, sweet countenance and smile, and conversation with him was very easy because of his outgoing personality. He was the kind of man whom I felt I had known for years after just one 30 minute patient encounter.

In the practice of wound care it is often necessary to see the patients regularly and frequently  in order to facilitate reversal of their wounding processes. Most patients with chronic wounds are middle-aged or older and have significant other medical issues. Diabetes is a common co-morbidity and peripheral vascular disease which is usually present either delays or prevents a  normal healing process. Mr. Johnson was dealing with both problems, and because his efforts to heal his wounds were failing he was becoming very discouraged. Despite the circumstances and frequent medical visits he had a gentle and cheerful spirit, and I knew whatever plan was initiated he would be compliant.

I had never met Mr. Johnson nor his family but immediately recognized his son-in-law, Eddie Bradford. Any loyal Razorback football fan who is over 60 years in age remembers Eddie as an excellent football player from the early 1950’s. He played for Coach Bowden Wyatt on a team which had only 25 players in 1954 and became known as “The 25 Little Pigs.” Eddie was a starter on the offensive line, and the team was so good they won the Southwest Conference championship and played in the Cotton Bowl on January 1, 1955 against Georgia Tech. I wrote about my experience in Dallas on that New Year’s Day when I was privileged to go with some friends to see the game. (A Panhandler At The Cotton  Bowl;  June, 2014).

Eddie and his wife Betty Ann love the Lord Jesus and were perceptive enough in loving Mr. Johnson to know he did not have a personal relationship with Christ. Eddie told me in a private conversation at the clinic during the initial visit he and Betty Ann had witnessed to him “for years”, but something in his belief system had prevented him from receiving and embracing Christ as Savior. Eddie said they would really appreciate any witness I might be toward their beloved father. I began praying God would open the door to allow His Spirit to convict Mr. Johnson.

Because of the severe nature of his wound it was necessary to see Mr. Johnson at least once weekly, and by the third visit he and I had developed a strong and trusting relationship. On the second visit I challenged him before I saw him again to strongly consider the truth of God’s love for him; how he had created him uniquely and desired more than anything to forgive him, cleanse him and give him a new and eternal life. I told him the full measure of God’s love for him was in the well-known verse John 3:16! Whatever change took place in Alex’s mind happened between his 2nd and 3rd visit, because on his next visit to the clinic he was totally open to the Gospel. I told Alex God had been waiting patiently to enter his life because this was the reason He had sacrificed His only Son for sinners like Alex and me. It was a gift from Him freely given to us at the costly price of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. At this point in our conversation Alex stopped me to ask. “On what basis do you claim all of this is true?” I said, “Alex, I’m basing everything I have told you on God’s written Word, the Bible. I believe every word contained in it is the truth, and I’m staking all of my future on it!” Alex said, “I can buy that.” I said, “Alex, why don’t you bow your head, ask God to forgive you from your sins, enter your heart and save you?” He said, “I would like to do that!” Alex prayed a simple prayer of faith that morning, and God answered it and entered his life and heart as He promised. The Bible says there was great rejoicing in heaven over Alex Johnson that morning!

I didn’t see what took place in heaven, but I sure experienced the joy, the tears and hugs from the Johnson and Bradford family that morning in the Wound Care Clinic. As a wound care physician for many years I know how difficult it is to see any benefit from a severe life-altering wound, but when I see Alex Johnson again in glory at the feet of Jesus, I will ask him, “Was it worth it?” I can imagine his response might be something like, “Look around here and look our Savior Jesus Christ! What do you think?”

Dr. John