Michael Robinson, MD
The Value of One
At the Guam SDA Clinic it’s almost impossible to remember every patient that passes through our doors, but some leave a lasting impression.
Roger was one such patient. Dr. Hugo Leon heard Roger in the next room before they met. As Dr. Leon finished up the last sutures on an elderly woman with a bad laceration, he silently prayed that the Lord would help him with the next patient.
He finished the paperwork and aftercare instructions, and then it was on to Roger, who was in a bad mood. He had waited 15 minutes for the doctor and he was in pain.
Roger was born and raised on the island of Guam. He dropped out of high school and started working in construction. On the job he connected with a friend group that led him into a life of drugs and homelessness.
One day the unthinkable happened. Roger was on a new job putting up a steel building which required a lot of strength and heavy lifting. Roger was in a weakened condition from a life of drug use, and he sustained a work-related back injury. This led to multiple back surgeries and chronic pain medications.
Dr. Leon was on duty at the Guam SDA Urgent Care and it was now time for him to enter the patient’s room. Roger demanded pain medication now. It didn’t matter that Dr. Leon wasn’t his primary care doctor. Dr. Leon wisely referred him to a pain specialist since Roger’s primary care provider was off-island.
A week later Roger was back to see Dr. Leon. The pain specialist had advised a complete taper from all narcotics which made Roger upset. But Dr. Leon’s fair and consistent approach softened Roger’s heart and he reluctantly agreed to the treatment plan. He asked if Dr. Leon if he would be his new primary care provider.
At Roger’s next clinic appointment, Dr. Leon said, “Roger, we have a Bible study for patients that meets at our home each Tuesday night. Would you like to come? You’d be most welcome.”
Roger accepted the invitation, and the following Tuesday night he attended his first-ever Bible study at Dr. Leon’s house. We were there that evening, my family and I, and that’s how we first met Roger. It was a joy to witness his growth in the Lord week after week as he came, eager to learn of Jesus and His amazing love.
Over time Roger learned more and more about the wonderful Creator God who was preparing a home in heaven for him. He learned of the prophecies in Daniel and Revelation.
“This is so interesting!” he exclaimed.
Six months passed and Dr. Leon announced he was returning to the States. I became Roger’s new primary care provider, and my wife Tina and I took over leadership of the Bible study that Dr. Leon had begun.
Our friendship with Roger deepened and he even began attending church on Sabbath. As he continued his treatment plan to end narcotic use, Roger transitioned to a non-opioid based treatment plan with full consent and approval.
However, 30 days later Roger was back at the clinic asking for a 30 day supply of narcotics . . . again. I reminded him that we had already given him his last prescription for narcotics and now we were continuing the non-opioid treatment plan he had agreed to for pain control.
Roger was very angry. He left the exam room and went to the lobby where he asked to use the receptionist’s phone. After placing a call he slammed down the receiver and broke the phone. He was dismissed from the practice that day.
Roger stopped coming to church and Bible study. He found another primary care doctor. Sometimes he would still call to ask me questions.
Another six months passed and one Thursday afternoon I drove over to the hospital to do rounds. At a stop sign just outside the hospital entrance I glanced across the street and spotted Roger standing on the sidewalk waiting for a bus ride home. He had just been released from the ER.
I rolled down my window. “Hey Roger! Do you want a ride home?” I called out to him. Roger looked at me as though he had seen a ghost.
“Do you want a ride home?” I repeated my question.
“Yes,” he replied, as he came over to the car and jumped inside. On the way to his home he told me what had happened over the past few six months. He had been through a lot.
“Roger, do you remember the song, ‘Jesus Loves Me’?” I asked.
He didn’t. So I sang it for him: “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. . . .”
“Roger, would you like to invite Jesus into your heart today?”
“Yes!!!” Roger exclaimed. He prayed and invited Jesus into his heart as Lord and Savior.
I shared with Roger the gospel message so beautifully expressed in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave . . . ” and explained each word in the verse. The deep significance of this passage seemed to penetrate Roger’s mind.
Soon we arrived at his home, a simple one bedroom apartment that he shared with his mother. His bedroom was the living room and the couch was his bed. His mother welcomed him home.
I waved as I drove away.
The next morning (Friday) at 6:20 a.m. my phone rang. It was Roger’s mom. “He’s gone! He’s gone!” she cried out in anguish.
“Who is gone?” I could hardly process what I was hearing.
“Roger,” she wailed. “He is dead. The ambulance just picked up his body and took it to the hospital.”
Later that day the rest of the story unfolded, as related to me by Roger’s mother: “Roger was so happy when you dropped him off last evening. He ate dinner with me, prepared for bed, and went to sleep on the couch. This morning he was still asleep when I got up to make breakfast. When I went to awaken him, I found him dead. The ER doctor said he died in his sleep from a heart attack.”
I was so glad Roger had accepted Jesus into his heart the night before.
Medical missionary work can be messy, but it’s worth the effort and the rewards reach to eternity.
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