Doctor John Remembers, by John Henry Moore

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Doctor John Remembers, by John Henry Moore

May 23, 2023

As I watched these recollections unfold on Dr. John Henry Moore’s blog over recent years, it struck me that they would make for a wonderful book. When I brought this up on a visit to his and Cathy’s home in Branson, Missouri, they and the family were open to the idea, though they hadn’t considered it before. A daughter had given him a ring-bound collection of pieces posted to date, and I read through them at Christmastime 2020. As I made my way from one to another, various topic groupings came to mind, and I suggested them to John. He picked up on the notion and grouped them into four divisions, which you see here. And when I suggested he provide sub-titles since many of the main ones were puzzling, he jumped right on it. (So, for instance, “A Shopping Trip to Dallas” was supplemented with “An Initial Challenge Leads to Our Reformation.”)


To my dismay, John passed away two days before Christmas 2022, but, by that time, I had, providentially, all I needed to submit the manuscript to Wipf & Stock. I was hoping and expecting that he would soon hold a copy of the book in his hand, but that was not to be. Still, of course, I’m delighted that he’s not at all pained by his death, and I’m hopeful that one day he’ll learn of the spiritual impact these writings will have and perhaps meet someone in heaven who came to the Lord from them.


I’m so grateful to Cathy and daughter Mary Kay for working with me as I’ve done my little bit to bring the book forward in these early months of 2023. John asked me to write the Foreword, and the publishes asked me for the back-cover description, which you see here.


I should also note that the cover illustrations were provided by Harrison Watters, who also provided images for two other books noted on this site, Cases and Maps: A Christian Introduction to Philosophy and Apologetical Aesthetics.


Back Cover Introduction


This is the story (told in nearly two hundred short recollections) of a surgeon from a family of surgeons, raised in the Arkansas oil country of the Jim Crow South. A churchgoer from his childhood, he came to a saving knowledge of Christ (along with his wife Cathy) only in the late 1970s. And from that turning point, they proved themselves to be choice servants of the Lord in countless ways—in John’s case, as a deacon, a surgeon in the Amazon region, a denominational and parachurch board member, a conference speaker in Eastern Europe, a free-clinic doctor in Southwest Missouri, and a church staff member. Along the way, he took note of a host of engaging events, characters, and conversations, whether among fellow Air Force doctors on parade, with medical colleagues observing a gratifying, ancillary effect of defibrillation, or in the company of an aunt who introduced him to Roy Rogers and Stan Musial. There was even an Elvis sighting. The book is rich in theological, ecclesiological, missiological, familial, sociological, psychological, and medical narratives and observations.




I hesitate to submit a foreword to this book since I still feel the sting of a rebuke Dr. Moore visited upon us as a team of two when I was his pastor back in 1984. I know it’s been nearly four decades since that event, but a wound that deep is not easily forgotten. I grant you that I’m grateful for his willingness to be my first volunteer for weeknight, evangelistic visitation, using the SBC’s Continuing Witness Training material. And, yes, we’d been blessed by the opportunities to present the gospel, whatever the response. But on this particular evening, I was frustrated. We’d been following the pattern of calling ahead to see if this was a good time for us to come by, and we’d gotten a “No” for the second or third time. Hanging up the phone, I said something dismissive, essentially writing off this lost man as a waste of our time. Then John Henry asked rhetorically, “Aren’t you glad the Lord is more patient with us than we are with him?”


Ouch! Didn’t he know how tough it was to be a pastor and that I was giving the task my all? The last thing I needed was some deacon judging and thus discouraging me in the midst of my noble strivings. But, of course, it was the just what I needed to hear that evening, and he had the wisdom, grace, courage and standing to provide it. And sure enough, in the weeks that followed, we found our way into that house and did, indeed, witness to the man and his wife. Alas, he was not open to our biblical presentation and invitation, but that’s not the end of the story.


A year or so later, the man’s wife died in a single-car accident on narrow, winding road between El Dorado and Monroe, Louisiana. Out of the blue, he called to ask if I’d do the funeral, and, of course, I said “Yes.” As I recall, there were about fifty in attendance at a little church in a neighboring town. And they heard me say that the last time I saw his wife, I gave her the basics of the gospel, and I believed she’d like me to repeat it for them. So I did, thanks to the faithfulness of Dr. John Henry Moore in pressing me to be scripturally and spiritually diligent in evangelism.


Yes, the wounds of a friend are faithful (Prov 27:6), but, I’ll hasten to say that the righteous hits from my friend John are outnumbered a thousand times by the pleasant and, indeed, exhilarating blessings he and Cathy have passed along to Sharon and me, beginning with those challenging and gratifying days in South Arkansas. And it is such a privilege to commend these “Dr. John” memoirs to readers. 


One of my favorite passages, one I love to preach from, is Paul’s “Farewell to the Ephesian Elders” (Acts 20:17–38). I go with the title, “Spiritual Heroes,” and I track through Paul’s account of his life and ministry, commending it to the congregants. It being Paul, the standard is high, and I preach with a heavy dose of embarrassed self-consciousness. But I don’t preach it as a pipe dream, for there are laymen in those congregations who could fill the bill. Many of them I’ve come to know, but none, in my experience, surpasses John Henry Moore in fitting the Pauline template.


This past Christmas, Sharon and I visited an overseas family member, and the day before we left, I sent John Henry an update on the book. He got right back to me with troubling news, that he had been admitted to the hospital with “Covid pneumonia,” complicated by an underlying heart condition (which he addresses in these memoirs).  He observed, “I don't believe I am in danger of meeting Jesus before completion of the book, but I am looking forward to what He has for me.” And in a follow-up message the same day, “[W]e are all at peace. Pray for Cathy and our family. . . And if I soon meet Him what a glorious story it will make!!”


We had another brief, email exchange the next day as he helped me with a detail in the book. (I was on a short layover in an airport along the way.) And then I heard nothing till the evening before of Christmas Eve, when his daughter, Mary Kay, texted me with news of his death. So yes, John Henry is now enjoying what he was looking forward to—"what He [Jesus] has for me.” And those of us who knew him understand that a good deal of what Jesus has for us has come already in the person of John Henry, who lived Christ in so many ways, to our great blessing and spiritual advantage.


Providentially, John Henry left us these memoirs, and those of us he left behind are confident that their spiritual impact will reverberate across the years, stirring, edifying, and, yes, entertaining those who knew him and loved his Savior. There’s an old hymn, “Must I Go and Empty-Handed?” that pictures the plight of the person who makes it to heaven by the grace and mercy of God, but who has no “trophy” (in the form of another won to Christ through earthly witness) to lay at his feet. It concludes with the admonition, “Ere the night of death o’ertake thee, strive for souls while still you may.” This book makes it clear that John Henry Moore’s entry to heaven was not empty-handed. And I pray and trust that, through the ministry of this book, yet more souls will be saved, and that more soul-winners will be birthed, to the glory of God.


In one of our SBC training courses at FBC El Dorado, we were asked to consider not only how many apples were on the tree, but also how many trees were in the apple. That is to say, while it’s important to consider how much fruit we might bear, we also need to consider how many fruit-bearers might come from the fruit our faithful discipleship. John Henry will surely recognize in heaven at least some of those he led to the Lord on earth, but he may well be puzzled when meeting a Brazilian, Czech, or South Arkansas saint claiming to be a debtor to his witness—not to his direct witness, but rather a debtor to a debtor to his face-to-face presentation of the gospel. Or, perhaps, to the testimony of his memoirs.