Dr. Truett and Baylor Hospital
July 6th, 1980 @ 10:50 AM
DR. TRUETT AND BAYLOR HOSPITAL
Dr. W. A. Criswell
7-6-80 10:50 a.m.
Orchestra and choir, you sound inspired to me. Ah, it is wonderful to listen to you. It is a gladness to welcome the uncounted thousands of you who are sharing this hour of the First Baptist Church in Dallas over radio and over television. This is the pastor bringing the message of the morning. It is entitled Dr. Truett and Baylor University Hospital. Every year on the Sunday closest to the anniversary of the death of Dr. Truett, I prepare an address on some phase of kingdom work into which he poured his life. This is the thirty‑sixth year that I have done it.
Dr. Truett was by far the most gifted and eloquent and famous of the Baptists in America. His kind is unique. Once in a thousand years will a man like Dr. Truett appear. So many things of our Baptist kingdom’s work grew under his surveillance and care. For example, the Annuity Board, which is located at 511 Akard, just over there—that is the pension board of the Southern Baptist Convention. That was organized in this church.
One of the dearest of all of the ministries, of course, to which he gave his life was the founding and the furthering of Baylor Hospital. And to pay tribute to Dr. Truett, in the organization and sustaining and building of that institution of mercy and care, is a privilege of this present pastor.
I have two groups here that I wish I could recognize. Number one: if you are connected with Baylor in any way, you are a physician who ministers there, you are on the staff or you work there, or you are connected with Baylor in any way, such as these two chaplains on the platform—will you two chaplains stand and all the rest of you who might be in any wise connected with Baylor, would you stand? All over the auditorium, wherever you are, we would just like to say a word of love and appreciation for you. There are many of you here and we love you in the faith and in the Lord.
Now I have one other small group that I would like to recognize. Do you belong to the family of Dr. Truett? In the passing of the many years, Dr. Truett died the seventh day of July in 1944. In the passing of the many years, the family has largely been called to an upper and better world. But some of the descendants of the family and some of the members still live in our midst. I want you to stand if you’re here, if you belong to the family of Dr. Truett. Here’s Jody Majors. Lyda Lynn Marchman, you stand. Oscar Marchman, back there. Are there any other members of the family of Dr. Truett? Well, we love and praise God for you. Thank you.
Dr. Truett died the seventh day of July in 1944. So the Sunday nearest the anniversary of his death would be today. And the message, as I have said, concerns Dr. Truett and the founding of Baylor University Hospital.
As a background—not as a text, but as a background—reading from the eighth chapter of Matthew, verses 16 and 17, Matthew 8:16 and 17:
And when the even was come, they brought unto Him many that were possessed with devils, demons: and He cast out the demons with His word, and healed all that were sick:
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.
Any ministry in healing and compassionate mercy reflects the heart of our Lord who Himself is called the Great Physician.
On the twenty-second day of October in 1959, I led the dedicatory prayer for the women’s and children’s building on the Baylor Hospital campus. Presiding over that dedicatory service was Ben Wooten, president of the First National Bank in Dallas, and the chairman of our Board of Trustees. And in his remarks, Ben Wooten said, and I quote; “Every institution is the shadow of an individual. And this institution is the shadow of Dr. George W. Truett. His shadow permeates every room of this hospital and every foot of this campus.”
This was not said at the dedication of the Truett Memorial Unit on the Baylor campus, but was said many years after Dr. Truett had been translated to heaven. It is the shadow of the personality of that great pastor and prince of preachers. Nothing could have been more truly said than Ben Wooten’s remark that dedicatory day. Baylor Hospital had its founding in the loving dedication and care of Dr. Truett.
It came about like this: in the year 1903, Dr. Truett had been pastor of this church for six years. He came here when he was thirty years of age, so he was then thirty-six. In that year of 1903, Dallas was a bustling metropolis of forty thousand citizens, and it had a worldwide reputation. There were more horseless carriages in Dallas than any other city in the South. They had forty automobiles, and that was a world famous record.
In that year in Chicago, a man by the name of Philip Armour, who founded and was the leader and largely the owner of the Armour Packing Company, one of the great corporations of the world; in Chicago, there was born into the home of Philip Armour a little boy, and he was born crippled. In Vienna, Austria, was a famous orthopedic surgeon by the name of Dr. Adolph Lorenz. And headlined in the newspapers of the world, Philip Armour gave to Dr. Lorenz a fee of thirty thousand dollars—an astronomical, an unheard of sum at that time—if he would come to Chicago and help to heal his little crippled son. Dr. Lorenz came, and while he was here, he was invited to speak to the American Medical Association, which, that year of 1903, met in New Orleans.
From Dallas to New Orleans went a physician in this city by the name of Charles M. Rosser. Dr. Rosser had begun a little medical school on Commerce Street in downtown Dallas, and he had also bought a framed house on Junius Street, and had founded the Good Samaritan Hospital in that little frame house. In New Orleans, Dr. Rosser invited Adolph Lorenz, the world-famous orthopedic surgeon, to visit this city. And to the amazement of the medical profession, Dr. Lorenz accepted the invitation and came.
He planned to stay here about a day. Actually, he stayed a week. And at the end of the week, the citizens of Dallas, and especially its medical community, in honor of Dr. Lorenz, had a banquet in the Oriental Hotel, the six‑story pride of the city of Dallas, down on Commerce Street.
And the gifted and wonderful pastor of this First Baptist Church, Dr. Truett, brought the closing address at that banquet honoring Dr. Lorenz. In that address, Dr. Truett said, quote, “Whatever makes for the betterment of the race has its origins in Christianity. The Christianity of the divine physician does not stop at bandages and medicines, but takes the sufferer to a hospital where every attention, care, and kindness may be bestowed.”
Then the eloquent pastor closed his address with these words, quote; “With our magnificently growing city, with our young though promising medical school, with our splendidly equipped medical profession, I raise the question: is it not time to begin the erection of a great humanitarian hospital, one to which men of all creeds and those of none may come with equal confidence?” When Dr. Truett finished that address and with that question the people arose in tremendous appreciation and applause. One of the men who was there at that banquet was a deacon in this First Baptist Church. His name was Colonel C.C. Slaughter. Our Slaughter Chapel is named for him. He was the greatest cattle baron the world has ever known. He owned toward three million acres in his own right in fee simple, and he had leased from the government twenty-four million other acres.
Colonel Slaughter, listening to Dr. Truett as pastor, sought him out and said, “I will give $50,000 toward the building of a hospital such as you’ve described in our city of Dallas.” Then, as the days passed, Colonel Slaughter said to Dr. Truett, “You go to the Convention, and you tell the Baptists of the state of Texas that, for every dollar they give, I will give another.”
Dr. Truett electrified the people of the churches of our Baptist communion in this state with a message of the healing opportunity that we had in building such a humanitarian institution in the city of Dallas. The idea was new to our people. There was no Baptist hospital in this part of the world. But he created the sentiment for it and the spirit to achieve it and to do it. So, under the blessing and the aegis and the encouragement of this man of God, there was begun the hospital that [was] then named Texas Baptist Memorial Sanitarium, in the place of that little Good Samaritan Hospital on Junius Street. And for forty-one years, from the day of its beginning in 1903 until he died in 1944, Dr. Truett was a trustee and a fellow builder of that tremendous healing institution.
Dr. Truett died, as I said, the seventh of July in 1944. The twenty-seventh day of September of that year, I was called to be undershepherd of this dear church. And when I came, the first assignment that was placed in my hands was to raise $200,000 for a memorial for Dr. Truett, namely the Truett Memorial Hospital on the Baylor campus. Within a week after the translation of the great pastor, the leaders in this city said, “We must build a hospital on Baylor campus to memorialize the great ministry of that mighty preacher of Christ.”
To show you the magnitude of that assignment which overwhelmed me: the budget of the church at that time was $150,000 a year, and they were asking us for $200,000. It is the same and exact thing as if—our church now is giving about $8,000,000 or over a year to the work—it is the same thing as if we were asked today to give $8,000,000 to an institution of our Baptist Zion. It was an assignment like that. It was a tremendous thing. I didn’t know there was that much money in the world: $200,000. But we went to a big dinner at the Adolphus Hotel, and when the pledges were made, I stood up and pledged $200,000 from this First Baptist Church. And we paid joyfully, gladly, prayerfully, lovingly, every penny of that $200,000 pledge.
Mrs. George W. Truett, his widow, wrote to Mr. Charles Moore, who was the chairman of our board of trustees at that time, dated the twentieth of October in 1944. And I have the letter in my hand. She wrote to Mr. Moore: “The Baylor University Hospital grew into my husband’s very being. Next to his church, this institution held first place in his heart and life. He would not care for a great monument of stone or marble, no matter how beautiful its workmanship. But if he could know that the great institution into which he had put so much of his young life’s blood in its early days, and to which he devoted his best thought and service through the long years, was now to benefit through his home-going, his heaven would be two heavens in Emmanuel’s land.” So, the hospital unit was built, and it was dedicated, and it is a glory to God to this present day.
But when I came to be pastor of the church in 1944, I was elected to the board of trustees of Baylor to take the place of Dr. Truett. And I never saw so divided and discouraging a prospect and a program as was characterizing every meeting of our Baylor board of trustees. They were divided over every issue and especially over its administration. So severe had become the divisiveness in the board that it spilled over into this church.
When I came here, the deacons were bitterly divided. Some of them hated one another to the death. It arose over the medical college in the city. And as you know, the result was they moved the medical college out of Dallas into Houston. And there it is to this present day. But the bitterness of the confrontations every trustee meeting was one of hatred and acrimony. I don’t think I ever saw anything in my life like it. But in those days of bitterness and divisiveness, there came to the hospital from Knoxville, Tennessee, a young fellow by the name of Boone Powell. He came as an assistant, but after a while he was made administrator of the school. And from the day of the beginning of the administration of Boone Powell to this present moment, I have never heard any discord, or disharmony, or divisiveness, or bitterness. The thing pulled together and immediately began to surge upward and forward.
Dr. J. Warner Duckett, pioneer in heart surgery and head of the medical staff in Baylor from 1956 to 1967, speaking at the dedication of one of the buildings on the campus of Baylor, said, and I quote, “Mr. Boone Powell is possessed of the most amazing capabilities and untiring energies. He reminds me of Sir William Osler’s words, in commenting on the president of John Hopkins University, at the time of the organization of the John Hopkins Medical School and Hospital.” Dr. Osler said, “I have never before been brought into close contact with a man who loved difficulties just for the pleasure of making them disappear.”
That has been Boone Powell’s record at Baylor University Hospital. For one thing, Boone Powell took that hospital and has made it a great research and medical teaching ministry in the world. Dr. Truett said, and Chaplain Bennett quoted from it in his prayer: “Never let it be said that Baylor Hospital has become just another boarding house for the sick. The science and knowledge of man must combine efforts with the Great Physician to render the ultimate in science to God and mankind.” And Baylor University Hospital has become just that under the tutelage of Boone Powell.
One of the things that we did was to plead for, and finally succeed in, getting a chaplaincy program in the hospital. I said again and again and again at those meetings when they were so divided, “Why have a hospital supported by our Christian people and by our Baptist communion unless it serves the mercies and the healing name of our Lord?” No chaplain there—no chaplain program, no anything; I said, “It might as well be an infidel institution—might as well be a state owned institution. It ought to be Christian.” And finally we were given the privilege, under Boone Powell, to have a chaplain. And he sits on our platform today. We went to El Paso and we invited B.F. Bennett to resign his church there and come to Baylor as a chaplain. And he’s built a tremendous program, teaching other young men how to be good chaplains in the institution.
The hospital grew and it grew. If you’ll go out there to Baylor Hospital, you will find this plaque—Blue Cross was started by Baylor University Hospital. This plaque reads, dated the twenty-third of September, 1947: “To Baylor University Hospital, Dallas, Texas, the birthplace of the Blue Cross program. The Board of Trustees and the Blue Cross Commission of the American Hospital Association jointly present this plaque in appreciation of the origin of this movement, which has contributed so greatly to progress in health care and which has made hospital service available to millions.”
All you need to do today is to go out there and look at that unbelievable institution. Under the surveillance of Boone Powell, and under his guidance and in his genius, there are five separate hospitals on that campus. They have more than four thousand employees. They have over one hundred million dollars worth of property. And it is one, if not the largest, philanthropic, Christian church related hospitals in the world.
All of us in deepest gratitude can kneel before God our Father and thank the Lord for that great healing institution. And we can thank God for the glorious preacher who brought it to the hearts of our Baptist people and whose eloquence constrained them to support it, to found it, to build it, and in whose memory it glorifies God today.
The ministries of a healing institution like Baylor are precious beyond compare. They reflect the Spirit of our Lord. One day, a man went out there to the hospital, and as he opened his little suitcase of the things he had brought, first, he took out a picture of a woman and three little children. He put the picture on the dresser there by the bed, and turning to the attendant nurse he said, “Nurse, that is my wife and my three children, and I’m counting on you all to pull me through.” Ten thousand times ten thousand is that repeated through the course of every year.
Last night, I was walking down Swiss Avenue on which street is the parsonage of the church. The doctor said to me, “Every day you must walk at least two miles.” So either early in the morning before it’s too hot, or late in the evening when the sun begins to go down, I make my journey of two miles. As I was walking last evening down the street, a car coming toward me stopped, and the man beckoned for me to come over. So I went over to the window of his car. And he said, “Do you remember last Christmas? I asked you to stop at my house.” And he lives right up the street from us, “I asked you to stop at my house. I wanted you to meet a godly minister, a man of the gospel, a man of God, a sainted man, and you did, and you visited with him. Do you remember that?”
“Well,” he said, “the same day that you entered Baylor hospital, he also entered Baylor hospital. Both of you, the same day, were taken to Baylor hospital.” He said to me, “You look so well. You seem to be so strong. But my dear friend, that sainted man of God, is in the hospital at Baylor today. He’s still there. He has had a severe stroke, and I don’t think he will ever rise from his bed of affliction. And I just wanted to ask you to pray for that godly, saintly man—that you ask God to be with him and to sustain him.”
I said, “I will.” And as I walked on down the street, once again, as a thousand times before, have I turned over in my heart before the Lord why both of us there together on the same day, and he with a heavy stroke. This godly, saintly minister of Christ is still there. He’s still at Baylor. And I, there never has been anything in the world better that happened to me than my heart attack.
Dear people, my life was becoming a burden to me. I preach here three times on Sunday, get up Monday morning early, catch a plane, go all over this earth preaching. I had seven tremendous engagements outside of America this year: one in England, one in Argentina, one in Brazil, one in Korea—seven of those journeys. And I was gone all the time, preaching everywhere. And it was hard for me and difficult, and I was worn out all the time.
Now when anybody asks me to do anything I say, “You know, my doctor has told me I’ve got to stay in Dallas. I can’t come. I can’t go.” I’m having the best time of my life. It seems to me I’m on vacation all the time. I just stay here. If you want to see me, you’ll know where I am. I’m not at the jumping-off place, I’m right here.
Oh, I like it! I like you. I like this church. I like this town. I like what I’m doing—best thing in the world ever happened to me was that heart attack. I just feel so good, and I just am so well and strong.
Now, you tell me why that godly man is out there in Baylor at this moment stricken with a, with a heavy, heavy stroke, and I am well. I don’t know those things. I don’t understand those things. They lie in the elective purposes of God, hidden from our eyes. I just know this: that whether I am well or whether I am sick, Jesus is near and dear just the same. If He is with me, having raised me up, He is no less with that godly, saintly man who is out there at Baylor this minute. His compassions, His compassions and His mercies never change.
He has said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” [Hebrews 13:5]. It is His gracious hands that smooth the pillow for the sick. It is His godly presence that makes the heart beat strong. It is His loving, compassionate care that tucks in the covers at night. It is the presence of our Lord that guards and watches over for good. And in the day when our breath is taken away, it will be in His choice and in His will. And I will not die until He wills it, chooses it, elects it. Our lives are in His gracious hands. And when the time comes for me to die, the nail‑pierced hands that opened for me the gates of grace will open for me the gates of glory. He will be close by.
In our Sunday school here was a little child that had meningitis and died. And as the mother held the little girl, the small girl in her arms—as the mother held the child in her arms, the child began to go blind from the disease. And the little child clung to her mother and said, “Oh, Mother, Mother, it’s growing dark and I’m afraid, I’m afraid!” And the mother, comforting the little girl said, “There, there, sweet child, don’t be afraid. Jesus is with us in the dark, just as He is with us in the light.”
The Lord loves us as much as when we’re sick as He does as when we’re well, when we’re weak as much as when we’re strong. His mercies faileth never, and it will be into His kind and compassionate and merciful hands that we shall commend our lives and our souls now, in the hour of death, and in the world that is yet to come. What a comfort and what an assurance to have Jesus as our Lord and as our Savior! May we stand together?
Our dear Lord looking down in mercy, in pity, in love and compassion upon us, how humbly we pray that we may be strong in our hour of trial. The day will always come—it inevitably comes, it inexorably comes when we’re sick or we grow old or we die. “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after that the judgment” [Hebrews 9:27]. All of us face that inevitable day. Our Lord, may we not be afraid. If it is God’s will that we be strong and healthy and God raises us up, then may every day magnify the Lord. May we give the strength of our lives unto Thee. But, our Master, in the elective purpose of God’s grace, if the Lord chooses that we be translated to heaven, may we not look upon it as a curse and a judgment. But may we look upon it as a triumph, going to be with Jesus. So whether we are here in the body of this flesh or whether we are there in heaven with Thee, we are with our Lord, with Thee here, with Thee there. Lord, may we never be afraid. May every day be one of assurance and victory as we find strength, and peace, and quiet, and assurance in Thee.
In this moment when we stand before God and our people pray, and in a moment when our choir shall sing our appeal, you, to give your heart to that marvelous Lord Jesus [Romans 10:9-10], to answer God’s call to your life, on the first note of that first stanza would you reply, “Here I am, Lord. Here I am.” Out of the balcony round, you, the throng on this lower floor, you, down one of these aisles, “Pastor, I have decided for God and here I am. I am bringing my whole family.” Do it, a couple you or just one somebody you. And, our Lord, make this a day of rejoicing in heaven and gladness in earth as they come. Thank Thee for the answered prayer, in Thy saving name, amen. While we wait, while we pray, while we sing, make it now. We are so praying that you will come. We will be here deacons, and ministers, to welcome you. Make it now while we sing.