Dr. Grant Scarborough –excerpt from Dr. Scarborough’s book “Awake My Soul”
(Written after moving from Augusta to Columbus to start a new medical clinic)
Yesterday, I finished my work in Augusta to move to Columbus. Can I just say, “bittersweet.” You start a ministry and then leave the ministry to start another. That’s actually not that bittersweet. There is more to ministry than buildings, schedules, and meetings. Ministry is people, real living and breathing people. Real people that hurt, have pain and loss, and need the love of Jesus. Bittersweet! I have left many of my friends in Augusta; Lord provide for them—send another missionary to them to love, sacrifice and care for them.
Jerry Charlie or Charlie Jerry—to be honest, I have never known—has been a patient of mine for a couple of years. He used to be a truck driver, but being in his late 70’s and having some medical problems, he could no longer drive. He still went to work everyday, just to drink some coffee and remember the good ol’ days. He prayed for me the day before I moved to Columbus, but that was not the first time.
One day during our clinic visit, I was really feeling rushed. Trying to hurry him out, he stopped and asked if I could pray him. I felt so guilty that I did not take time to care for all of him. He wanted me to pray when I just wanted to give him some medicines. How blinded I can become some days. I actually gave him a few things for him to pray for me. I love doing this. People need to know I am broken and need a Savior as much they do. So we prayed together. I will never forget that day. He squeezed my hand and prayed—he got into a rhythm and every new phrase he squeezed tighter—then another phrase and another squeeze. “We thank you Lord, Amen.” “Did you feel it Dr. Scarborough?” were the next words out of his mouth as he held his finger close to my face. And Yes, I felt it; I was the one blessed. I was so refreshed by his prayer. I was truly blessed. “Thank you Jerry…I mean Charlie,” I mumbled.
I invited him to our clinic Bible study and I remember his first prayer request—“pray for me, I do not have any friends. I live with 3 other guys in a trailer, and I do not get along with any of them. Pray for me. I am lonely.” We prayed for him and the Lord answered. We were to be his friends. He kept coming to Bible Study. It was a sweet time. Bible study is a neat mix of people and backgrounds that come to hear a little about Jesus. I will never forget the time I did a study on Luke and one of my patients stated that Luke was his favorite disciple.
The next week, we discussed a passage in the book of John and my same friend stated, “Dr. Scarborough, I love John the Baptist—therefore, I love the book of John.”
I know John the Baptist did not write the book of John, he was beheaded way before it was written. But I was afraid that my friend would outwit me again, so I was silent. Maybe what I learned in Bible school was wrong. “I love John the Baptist too.”
So Jerry or Charlie was there during our interesting conversations. I still was not sure what his name was and everybody in the Bible Study would mumble one name or the other, until one day he put the whole matter to rest, “I am diggin the Jerry!” he said. So from then on, it was always Jerry. Honestly, I was diggin the Jerry also.
So Jerry came to our Bible Study, we went out to dinner, and he came over for dinner as well. My intern and good friend, Will, that led the Bible study with me would go pick him up and just be with him. It was a great picture, a 19-year-old white intern with a late 70-something black man. Will called him up one day and invited him to dinner, “anywhere you want to go Jerry, I am paying.” Jerry asked him if he needed to dress up. My poor intern looked worried because he was poor and obviously Jerry must be thinking of some place nice. And he was, they feasted that night at Ryan’s Steakhouse.
A few months later Will went with Jerry to a revival at his church. Will sang, lifted his hands, and danced all night next to his good friend Jerry. After taking Jerry out to eat a few times, he surprised Will and took him out to eat.
Jerry came over to my house for Easter lunch. It was my family, with all my girls, Will and my widowed next-door neighbor. My next-door neighbor was a very proper and well-off lady in her late 70s, sweet as pie I might add. Everytime we kids went next door, she gave us ice cream sandwiches.
We always sing after eating our Sunday lunch and this time, Jerry led us in worship. He sang Amazing Grace as loud as anyone has ever sung in my house before, and Anne, the girls, Will and our neighbor all joined in. The kingdom of God is very beautiful. I cannot help but think that heaven will look a little like Jerry, my neighbor, and my girls singing in unison to our heavenly Father.
When I was close to moving, I had my last clinic appointment with Jerry. We talked and laughed. I am not sure if we discussed medicine at all. He knew I was driving every week to Columbus. He looked at me and made me promise. “Promise me every time before you get in the car and drive, that you pray for traveling mercies. Promise me. I have been a truck driver for years and the Lord has always protected me when I prayed that prayer. The Lord will protect you as well.” Then he prayed, squeezed my hand, got into a rhythm, squeezed tighter, repeated it again before, “Amen, Did you feel it Dr. Scarborough?” Sometimes I forget who the minister is in the room. Did the Lord send me to minister to Jerry or did the Lord send Jerry to minister to me? I am not sure what the answer is but am grateful to the Lord for my friend .
A week before moving to Columbus, I had a going away party for myself. I invited all my patients to come, and we would cook them dinner, sing some songs, and be together. They could meet my wife and kids. It was so wonderful. Halfway through the night Dale walked up and told me he wanted to pray for my family before the night was over. Dale is a rural white Pentecostal assistant preacher that helps lead revivals throughout the southeast. I am sure he could get pretty loud preaching. I love him and his wife—you would love Dale and even walk the aisle and come to Jesus again when he preached, if he would just shave that mustache. Sorry, Dale.
I wasn’t sure what to tell Dale of his request to pray when we already had a plan of staff members sending us out in prayer. I was pondering this even more when we had finished singing and I was saying a few words to remind them of Christ’s love. As I was speaking, I saw Ms. Francis Sims. She was an African American lady that led a small congregation. She closed down her church a couple of months ago because of lack of funds. She too had been going to revivals with a different prophet, Prophet Dent. I loved Francis. After every sentence, she would emphatically say, “Amen.” Hold on for one second, I feel myself regressing. One day Francis came in when my ex-dancer, ex-prostitute, ex-madam friend was there who had been dramatically saved from her profession, and who liked to emphatically state “Praise the Lord!” after every sentence. I put them in the same room and simply said, “start talking.” I sat back and laughed as I heard “Amen” and “Praise the Lord” ring out time and time again. What a musical chorus.
Francis asked me to preach at her church a couple of times. What a highlight to my ministry in Augusta: preaching to about 15 people with all my might. I don’t know who spoke more that morning, me or the congregation. I never found that rhythm Jerry so easily finds when he prays. Which reminds me, Jerry was in the audience as well that night at the patient party. So that night was closed not with the staff praying over us, but some of my dear friends, Jerry, Francis, and Dale.
They laid their hands on me—and my wife and girls—and prayed. They prayed for our safety, they thanked God for our ministry, and they prayed for you—Columbus. They prayed God would bless our new ministry; they prayed God would prepare hearts in Columbus to hear the gospel; they prayed Jesus would be glorified. Jerry never got into a rhythm this time. He got choked up pretty early on in the prayer, stopped suddenly and said, “I am too emotional…Lord protect them!” He did not have to say it this time, but I felt it. The entire group felt it.
So the Scarborough family comes to Columbus—sent out to you, sent out from Augusta. Sent not by the mayor, the attorney, nor the banker—but sent out by a Pentecostal preacher, an ex-truck driver, and African American preacher—Dale, Jerry and Francis, my friends.
Lord protect my Augusta friends and provide for them.
Since writing this, Dale and his wife have come to Columbus and we had dinner at Cracker Barrel. Jerry has come for the weekend, and I had him pray for the family everyday. This time our family felt his prayer. It has been five years and my intern, Will, still calls his friend, Jerry, every week.