From the Pastor



In times like this it is easy to focus on the bad news, whether it’s about the COVID-19 virus, or other earth-shaking news. But may I offer some suggestions about keeping things in perspective.

  1. Buy what you need, don’t hoard out of fear. I know it’s hard when you see a lot of other people cleaning off the shelves in the grocery store but try a little self-restraint. They are not going to close down the grocery stores. If you get sick and can’t go out, surely there are family members and friends who will be more than happy to get you food. If you don’t have family or friends to help, call the church, your Deacon, or your Pastor, we will help.
  2. Try a few days of news blackout! No, I’m not recommending sticking your head in the sand, but 24/7 of watching reports on what's bad in the world is enough to cause anyone depression, doom and gloom. So take a break from the news cycle and watch something comical like the old  Andy Griffith Show, I Love Lucy, or my personal favorite Hogan’s Heroes. You might be surprised how much better you feel.
  3. Concentrate on the good, not the bad. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) as of yesterday globally there are 292,142 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 12,784 deaths. “This flu season alone has sickened at least 19 million across the U.S. and led to 10,000 deaths and 180,000 hospitalizations.” (source CNBC February 4) That number has surely gone up since this report. You’re more likely to get the flu and die of the flu than the COVID-19 virus. So wash your hands, if you’re sick stay home, but in truth most of you will be just fine.
  4. Support local businesses and restaurants. Most of these are hurting, so buy something local if you can, and get some take-out for dinner. And while you’re at it give a generous tip to the struggling staff. When this is over, I want my favorite businesses and restaurants to still be in business.
  5. Most importantly, Trust in the Lord. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) This world is filled with troubles and trials, but as Jesus said, “In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

I could add to this list, but you get the point. God is still in control and this crisis will pass. Just remember the sun is still shinning above the clouds.

I was going through some of my old files the other day and ran accross several things that had been buried under a mound of paper. One of them was a "Bible 9-1-1 Index." It was where to go in Scripture when you have a specific problem. Unfortunately we can't really dial 911 for spiritual emergencies, like commiting some sin we regret, or when we are afraid of the future, or we're sick; well, you get the picture. So here it is, your Bible 9-1-1 Index:


When in sorrow, call John 14.

When men fail you, call Psalm 27.

If you want to be fruitful, call John 15.

When you have sinned, call Psalm 51.

When you worry, call Matthew 6:19-34.

When you are in danger, call Psalm 91.v

When God seems far away, call Psalm 139.

When your faith needs stirring, call Hebrews 11.

When you are lonely and fearful, call Psalm 23.

When you grow bitter and critical, call 1 Cor. 13.

For the secret to happiness, call Col. 3:12-17.

For idea of Christianity, call 1 Cor. 5:15-19.

When you feel down and out, call Romans 8:31-39.

When you want peace and rest, call Matt. 11:25-30.

When the world seems bigger than God, call Psalm 90.

When you want Christian assurance, call Romans 8:1-30.

When you leave home for labor or travel, call Psalm 121.

When your prayers grow narrow or selfish, call Psalm 67.

For a great invention/opportunity, call Isaiah 55.

When you want courage for a task, call Joshua 1.

How to get along with fellow men, call Romans 12.

When you think of investments/returns, call Mark 10.

If you are depressed, call Psalm 27.

If your pocketbook is empty, call Psalm 37.

If your losing confidence in people, call 1 Cor. 13.

If people seem unkind, call John 15.

If discouraged about your work, call Psalm 126.

If you find the world growing small, and yourself great, call Psalm 19.

These emergency numbers may be dialed direct. No operator assistance is

necessary. All lines are open hours a day!

Feed your faith, and doubt will starve to death!

- Author unknown.

A Matter of Heart - An Update 

By Rev. Donald Thompson

As I write this on June 25, 2014, I have just been to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center for a heart biopsy (I am going every two weeks right now, and after I go in two weeks I'll go once a month) to make sure there are no signs of my body rejecting the new heart. I have to be there at 7:30 am where they prep me for the procedure which is done about 8:30 am. After that I go for an ultrasound of the heart to make sure everything is functioning properly. I then return home and I get a call in the early evening giving me the results. Good news once again, everything is fine and no sign of rejection! I give thanks to God for my great blessings. I continue to recover from my heart transplant without any complications (the medical staff tells me they expect at least one serious episode of rejection/infection, but so far so good)


I am trying now to get back to my normal routine, and plan to preach and lead Holy Communion on July 6. I will still need to exercise precautions about touching people (just in case someone may be getting sick and not know, etc.), and being in a lot of close contact with crowds of people. I still haven't been to nursing homes since there tends to be more sickness in places like that. All this will change as I get further out from the transplant and my body adjusts to the lower immune system. In the mean time I hope you understand if I don't shake your hand or hug you, nothing personal, just being cautious.


I am truly grateful for the love and support I've felt through my journey over the past 18 months. I couldn't have made it with knowing of your prayers and support. It tough being the one cared for, when you're used to being the one providing care, but I've learned some good lessons from all this. I can't explain why I have been so blessed (I surely don't deserve it), but I give thanks to God that I have. Perhaps God has used this journey of mine to give encouragement to others who are going through trials and tribulations in their own lives - I don't know, but I do know that God uses those situations sometimes. So, keep the faith, "for in due season we shall reap if we faint not..." (Gal. 6:9)

It was he who “gave gifts to people”; he appointed some to be apostles, others to be prophets, others to be evangelists, others to be pastors and teachers. 12 He did this to prepare all God's people for the work of Christian service, in order to build up the body of Christ. (Ephesians 4:10b-12)


The book title made popular by Hillary Clinton, It Takes A Village, has been used and adapted to many different kinds of situations. We are in the midst of our annual Vacation Bible School at Shallow Well, and as I observed, it takes a church to pull off an event like VBS. Let's look at some of these in Biblical prespective in no particular order.

First, there are the folks who provide the meals, we might call these people servants. They give of their time, money and talent to buy, prepare, and serve the food to a lot of hungry children and adults. They work hard, yet it is all gone in half the time it took them to prepare it as the VBS participants gobble up the food. Yet I noticed something about these "servers." They seemed to have big smiles on their faces as child after child came through and filled their plates. This seem to be their reward for their hard work. Isn't it true that those who serve in Christ's name seem to always be blessed by it. We couldn't do without these servers.


Second, there's our Youth Director Kimberly, full of life and energy leading the children in the intro to the night's lesson. I watch the children's faces as they respond to her enthusiasm. Their eyes are glued on her every move, they smile, then sing, and without even realizing it they are learning about the love of Christ. I think how blessed we are to have her at Shallow Well.


Third are the helpers, those charged with checking the children in, those who "keep the peace", those who ferry the children from one place to another, those who assist the teachers with the decorating, music leaders, craft leaders, recreation leaders, picture takers, those who clean up, and (I hope I didn't leave anyone out) so much more. They are a God-send, for without their commitment we could not have VBS. They too are often- times the unsung heros of the church; they are the Andrews who work quietly in the background.There would be no VBS without them.


Fourth are the teachers, those brave souls who prepare lessons for squirming children and wonder if any child learns anything in their classroom. They leave wondering if what they taught was "on target" or did they really get their points accross? They "cast bread upon the waters" and hope that "it will return after many days." The best a teacher can expect is that one of these children will return in the future to say, "teacher, you really made a difference in my life teaching us about Jesus." These teachers are filled with love and commitment to Christ and their pupils. They are the "Pauls" who are teaching people the Gospel.


Last, but by no means least, are the Director and Committee who planned it all, got the supplies together, set the schedule, organized the whole layout and make sure every night that things run smoothly. Thank God for those who are willing to step into leadership positions. It too can be a thankless job, for all to often a leader hears too few "well dones" and too many "you should have done this or thats." But leaders by design stick their necks out, they take the point and call out "follow me." I think about Moses, Joshua, Peter and Paul, all leaders who suffered at times because they stuck their necks out. But unless some leads, no one follows. Let's be reminded that the Bible challenges us "not to become weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not." (Galatians 6:9)


Yes, it takes a church, or should I say all the people of God to "pull off" an event like VBS. I am thankful that Shallow Well Church has many of these people ready to answer God's call and respond, "here am I, send me!"


Life with an LVAD


 Former Vice President Dick Chaney made headlines when he received an LVAD. He experienced a rough time following the surgery and almost didn’t make it. But, he was a lot sicker that I was at the time, and his surgery was done on an emergency basis to save his life. He recovered and from all I read he was doing quite well, living an almost normal life. Mr. Chaney had his LVAD for twenty months before he received a heart transplant. That was about average; two years seemed to be the time between the LVAD surgery and the transplant. You have to work your way up the transplant list.


My surgery to implant the device began on the morning of May 22, 2013. The next several days were a blur. Because of severe pain from what the doctors called a rib rub (the pump was rubbing against my rib cage), I received large doses of pain medication. My family tells stories of me seeing bugs crawling on the ceiling, and while making typing motions declaring that I was working on the computer. I remember one hallucination in particular. Molly, the LVAD coordinator, came in to teach Faye how to dress my drive line site. (The drive line came out of my right chest area and was connected to the batteries or power supply to power the pump) In my dream, they rolled me out and into this beautiful large room. Every things was pure white and there were columns and statues everywhere. I was fascinated just looking around and taking it all in. I was sure it was real, but sometime later when I asked Faye where they had taken us that day, she said, “nowhere, we were right in your room.” When I have shared that story some have asked, “Do you think it was heaven you were seeing?” I don’t know, it could have been.


After several days the pain began to ease and I required less medication. I was extremely weak and required help getting up, and walking was a chore. I gained a whole new appreciation for nurses, aids, and all the hospital staff who care for their patients. These people are some of the most patient, kind, and loving people you can imagine; I give thanks to God for them.


Life with an LVAD is not all that bad, you just have to make some adjustments. There are pros and cons to having this device. On the negative side, you must be attached to either the batteries (there are two of them about the size of an old VHS cassette tape, plus a control unit that fits in a “fanny pack”), or a power supply that sits beside your bed and you plug into at night. You are limited by 20 feet of cord when hooked to the power supply. I could get to the bathroom, but that was it. Wearing the batteries in the day was not too bad, but they were warm and as the weather got hot they were uncomfortable at times. Hiding everything under my clothes was a challenge also. The drive line site that came out of my right side had to have the dressing changed daily. Faye took care of that chore which was inconvenient at best. You also had to take your “go bag” with you everywhere you went. The “go bag” contained spare batteries, controller unit, and small batteries for the control unit. I remember one day we were headed to Cary when Faye asked, “did you get your bag?” “No,” I had forgotten it. We had to turn around and go back to get it. Should something fail on the unit, you have about 15 – 30 minutes to replace it. Normal battery life was about 8 – 10 hours and I had four sets of batteries. On the plus side, I could not believe how much better the device made me feel. I could do things I was not able to do before the LVAD, like walk uphill without having to pause, and I even played golf wearing it. I am glad I consented to having it implanted. From May 22, 2013 until April 14, 2014 I pretty much lived my normal life, thankful that God had given me this miracle of sorts.


Show Time


Our grandson, Adam, was out of school for Easter break and came to spend the week with us. Faye had big plans of yard cleaning, mowing, putting out mulch, etc. We had spent most of the day working in the yard and decided to take a little break about 2:30 or so. We had no sooner got in the garage when my cellphone rang. It was Catherine, one of the transplant coordinators. “How are you doing?” “Doing fine,” I replied, “been working in the yard all day.” “So you’re feeling ok, no cold, fever, anything?” “No, I feel great.” Then she got to the point; “How quickly can you get here, we think we’ve got you a heart!” Quick showers, a change of clothes, a few phone calls and we were off to Baptist Hospital. We arrived at the hospital about 5:30 Monday evening April 14, 2014. I went directly to the CCU unit where the staff immediately went to work preparing me for surgery. Things move rather quickly the rest of the evening with normal surgery preparations, x-rays, etc. I was taken down to the “OR” about 11:00 pm where they briefly made some final checks, and let me have a brief moment with my family, then into the surgical suite. It was about 11:30 pm. I was told very little about the donor heart; it was out of state, about an hour flight from Winston-Salem, and that of a younger person (25 – 35 years of age). That’s all I will probably ever know about the donor. My prayers to the deceased family, and my gratitude to the donor for being willing to offer someone else the gift of life, despite their tragedy. My thanks to God for giving doctors the knowledge and skills to save lives in this way.


I woke up in the ICU, with the medical staff complimenting me on how quickly I came off the ventilator and began breathing on my own. I was in some pain, but nothing out of the ordinary after surgery. I was swollen, had tubes coming out of my chest. I just wanted to sleep, but there was a nurse or doctor doing something (and I didn’t care what at the time) to me. Time was again a blur during this period, and I kept telling myself it would be better in a few days, just hang in there. One interesting thing was the pain medication – morphine, I think. The bugs came back, crawling on the ceiling and paint splatters on the walls – and I enjoyed it! After all, you need some entertainment while lying in a hospital bed. I thought it was fascinating watching the little bugs crawl around. But I also learned something you should not do – tell the nurse about the bugs! They cut off my morphine; no more bugs to watch – bummer. After a couple of days I was transferred to the CCU unit and then out to a regular room a couple of days later. It just so happened it was the same room I was in when I had the LVAD surgery. I remembered several of the staff from before and they were great. Now it was just a matter of getting the “numbers” right. That means they had to adjust the dosages of the various medications that prevent rejection. It is somewhat trial and error for an individual, but it has to be right. Physically, I could have been released from the hospital sooner, but they had to get all just right with the medications. I was finally released on Thursday May 1 about 5:00 p.m. “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty I’m free at last (MLK)” Those words of Martin Luther King Jr. came to mind as I was getting into the car to come home.


Quarantine or not to quarantine


The heart transplant program at Baptist has a new medical director whose thinking is a little different from the former director and the current staff who worked under the former director. The program is in a period of transition. The new director basically said I could be out around people, but just not sick people, and limit touching and close contact. Wash your hands a lot and wear a mask when in doubt. The “old” thinking was to be confined for the first three months. The danger is infection, of course, since your immune system is basically non-existence. So, I’m trying to strike a balance between the two schools of thought. I am going out some, but I try to be very careful about being around crowds of people. We’ve been to a couple of restaurants when we were the only ones there because we went early. I have to go back to Baptist weekly right now (that will change after the first month), and what more germ infected place than a hospital. But for now, a biopsy of the heart muscle is the only way to make sure my body is not rejecting the heart, and so far there have been no signs of rejection.


My recovery and progress since the surgery has been pretty routine. I feel better than I’ve felt in a long, long time. I have to keep reminding myself that I am recovering from major surgery and I have to give my body time to heal. I’m trying to take it slow, but as I told Faye the other day, what I really would like to do would be go to my office and start working. This sitting around the house gets old in a hurry for someone who has worked most of their life. There is also some guilt; I hear of people who are sick or something and I would like to offer pastoral care. I’d like to be there in the pulpit on Sundays, proclaiming the good news of Christ, but I can’t right now. So, I’m putting my time in waiting for the months to pass. My goal is to return by the first Sunday in July. I will have to make some modifications, like not going to the front and shaking hands, etc. But I trust you’ll understand. All things considered I am overly blessed. I am thankful for the love and support of my family, and my church family. I am thankful for the prayers that were offered up on my behalf from literally around the world (I had a missionary praying for me from a foreign land). I felt those prayers as the hand of God has been upon me. By God’s grace I trust I will continue to do well and return to normal strength.


It has been an incredible journey so far. But that is exactly how I’ve looked at it – a journey. I began it not knowing where I’d end up, and I still don’t in many ways. But I’ve determined to put my hand in God’s hand. I trust Him to lead me safely along the way until journey’s end. In the words of Bill Gaither’s song: “I don’t regret a mile, I’ve traveled for the Lord; I don’t regret a time, I’ve trusted in His Word …” The miracle of a new heart really happened many years ago when I bowed before an altar and invited Christ into my life as my Lord and Savior. As I awoke on Easter Sunday morning in the ICU, Easter and resurrection took on a whole new meaning for me. For in many ways I had been raised from the dead and given a new heart.

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