Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Missionary Doctor

Outside of my family, the first person I remember having a shaping influence on my spiritual life was Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965).  As a child in the late 1950's, I discovered him through a summer reading program for kids at the Waycross, Ga. Public Library.  The first things I read about him were written for the mind of a young reader.  But, even the simple language told the story of an exceptional man who set me to thinking for the first time about what God can do with a person who is willing to do God's bidding.
There were so many things on this man's resume.  He was an accomplished organist who could have had an outstanding career as a concert musician.  He was also a medical doctor.  He wore the titles of theologian, philosopher, and author of books that caused people of faith to re-think their traditional understanding of Jesus.  With all of this and more in his portfolio, he chose to serve God as a missionary doctor in the west African country of Gabon.  In a place known as Lambarene, he established a hospital to offer care for the sick and needy of Africa.  It was this missionary doctor caring for the people of Africa which captured the imagination of a ten year old boy.  His life and witness caused me to start thinking about what I would do with my life.  A frequent childhood dream was going to this place where Dr. Schweitzer served God.
Of course, I never it made to the Lambarene Hospital, or any other place in Africa.  I never made it to the mission field of another country. And certainly, I never met this man who inspired me to think bigger at such a young age.  His story and witness for God made a lasting and shaping impression on a heart that was in the early stages of being molded by God.  He was the first soul shaper who opened my eyes to the possibility of living a life of service to God and those who share this world with us. 

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