So, How Are You Doing?

Neal Pollard

It was a little after 6 P.M. on Monday.  I was standing in the lobby of Porter Hospital, visiting with Gerald and Maurya Fulkerson. Maynard and Donna Woolley were upstairs in the surgery waiting room with Diane, Lindsey and Jordanna Swann as Steve was receiving his kidney transplant (throughout the surgery, Joanie Stapleton, Bob Sprouls, Ernie and Sharon Barrett, Dave, Michelle, and Thomas Parker, Jack and Carla Hoagland, Clint and Carol Stephens, and Dick and Deanna Brant would show up and Brett Petrillo had been with them that morning). To my great surprise, I saw Derald and Verna Dunagan come through the front door.  The surprise was not seeing the Dunagans visiting people at a hospital (or hospice, nursing home, or assisted living facility). I cannot count how many times I’ve seen them making a visit in such a place. What was surprising is seeing a man diagnosed with such a serious, progressive, and ultimately fatal condition, a condition that acutely saps his strength riding over a half hour in a car to come minister to someone else in need. He had gotten up early to bake a delicious batch of his famous chocolate chip cookies to delight those sitting and waiting during the long surgical procedure.  Maybe no one, besides the Dunagans themselves, knows how much effort this required of Derald. But, few people who know Derald find this remotely surprising.  I never had the privilege to be a sheep in the flock where Derald served as a shepherd (he served at Lakewood several years ago), but I would have been anxious to follow him. He demonstrates gentleness, caring, and compassion through that sly sense of humor and competent manner. He seems to think so little of himself and so much of others, a trait Verna shares. Monday night was such a clear confirmation of that.  Especially many of our “senior saints” take the time to minister to others in the way the Woolleys, Fulkersons, and Dunagans did with the Swanns. They set a high bar for the rest of us, to fit into our busy routines that visit, phone call, or even card that says, “I care.” I’m grateful for the challenge of their example.  Derald humbles me even further, though. When I am prone to offer some excuse about why I am missing an opportunity to serve or minister, I hope I will replay the memory of a sweet, sick man coming in out of the evening to prove his love to another sweet, sick man.  What does Jesus look like? Isaiah 53 seems to indicate that He had no specific physical characteristics to distinguish Him.  But I feel like I caught a glimpse of Him at the northwest corner of Downing and Yale the other day. My prayer is that when someone looks my way, they catch a glimpse of Him, too!
A picture from Arlene Teel’s hip surgery a couple of years ago. Derald is on the left side in the blue-striped shirt and Verna is in the very center of the photo with the pink shirt and sleeveless vest. Cookies not pictured (but somewhere in that room).

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