My father was much older than my mother, and died before I was 2-years old. I missed having a loving father in my life.
Both my mom and stepdad had had difficult lives, and were bitter toward others and had little respect for the church. They said that the church was full of hypocrites. However, by the time I was six years old, I had heard some stories about Jesus at community vacation bible schools that I was permitted to attend. As a pre-adolescent, I began praying and going to church on my own. At the age of 12, my family moved next door to a woman who was the organist for a church. She invited me to attend church services with her family.
I attended worship and youth services regularly and began to read the Bible. I came to realize that I was a sinner and needed a Savior, but I also learned that Jesus had died for my sins and had risen from the dead proving that he was God and could forgive my sins and ensure a place in heaven for me. I learned that I could be adopted into God's family and become a child of God if I would put my trust in Jesus.
For a while, I asked the Lord to let me be a secret Christian since it was going to be hard to follow him in my family. However, one Sunday morning, I sensed the awfulness of sin in my life and I felt that I just had to go forward to acknowledge Jesus publically as Lord and to pray to ask Him to forgive my sins. As a result of that step of faith, Christ entered my life, forgave my sin, gave me a new heart, and made me a part of the Family of God.
I have continued on the journey of faith since making that decision at the age of 13. I have come to understand that the gift of salvation is only the beginning. The greatness of the Heavenly Father goes beyond one's greatest imagination. We will not begin to grasp the height and the depth, the length and the width of His love for us in Christ until we get to heaven.
By the time I was 15, I felt God wanted me to go to medical school. Although no one in my immediate family was a college graduate, I obtained my undergraduate degree and completed medical school and a residency in internal medicine at West Virginia University (WVU).
While at WVU, I was involved in music, youth, and teaching in a small mission church in Morgantown, WV. I met my wife, Connie, volunteering with her in these church ministries. After being advised by mentors to pursue advanced fellowship training in general internal medicine, we moved to Baltimore where I completed a 3-year fellowship at Johns Hopkins University where I conducted research on the problems of hospitalized older adults using the tools of epidemiology.
By the time I finished the fellowship, Connie and I had two young sons, ages 1 and 4. As I began looking for my first academic medical school faculty position, I anticipated that we would move somewhere as a family for five years, and then explore positions at a different university to ensure career advancement.
However, I accepted a faculty position at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Medicine in 1986, where I remain. I have spent my professional career at UAB developing interdisciplinary, research, education, and patient care programs in Geriatrics and Palliative Care.
While developing professionally, the Lord has used challenging work and family situations to help me realize that I am totally dependent on Him. Through participation in the ministries of a strong church, hearing Biblical preaching every Sunday, involvement in weekly small group discussions of Christian books, prayer, Bible study, and going on short-term mission trips, I have continued to grow in my faith.
I am particularly thankful that the Lord sent Jack and Diane Parker to develop a Faculty Commons ministry at UAB about six years ago. This ministry has permitted me to be a part of a growing network of Christian faculty members from multiple departments and schools. These faculty members are committed to integrating the Christian faith into their work and to help others to come to know the Lord. Our Christian Faculty Society has been sponsoring monthly lectures, small group Bible and prayer discussion groups, and service opportunities. These Christian faculty members are helping me to continue grow in the Lord. We are praying that the Lord will use us to make Christ known to faculty, students, and staff on the UAB campus.
My wife is now retired from teaching high school mathematics, and cares for her mother in our home. While I continue to work, Connie and I enjoy whatever time we can spend with our 2-year old granddaughter who lives in Durham, NC. We continue to serve together in our church, teaching and learning together with a married couples’ Sunday School class.