THE JOURNEY OF GETHSEMANE
Since adolescence, medicine has appealed to me as a tool to impact my fellow man in their most crucial sector of life, their health. Being the 11th of 13 children to Elder Roy and Dorothy Jackson, I found myself after high school working three jobs and contributing significantly to the wellbeing of my mother and the family home. After entering and graduating from college, I married my post-high school sweetheart Vanessa and moved to Tallahassee, Florida to enroll in Pharmacy School. It was there that the seed of becoming a doctor was sown and upon graduation, commencement in medical school took root.
While in medical school, my mother developed hypertension and I began mentorship research program under the tutelage of Dr. Otelio Randall, a seasoned scholar, researcher, professor, and cardiologist. My father developed a valvular heart disorder while enrolled in an internship and residency at the medical college of Virginia hospitals in Richmond, Virginia. In an attempt to learn and comprehend my dad’s illness, I began and completed a fellowship in cardiovascular diseases. In Richmond, Virginia a major transformational change took place in my life. I gave my life to Jesus Christ, which forever altered the course of my future. My first real job as a practicing cardiologist was in Little Rock, Arkansas. I was dedicated and very active in the local church there, as well as to the cardiologist practice I was a part of.
THE TURNING POINT
At this time Gethsemane Cardiovascular Clinic was nothing more than a file with tax identification numbers in the archives of the IRS. After spending four years in Little Rock, the opportunity to study advanced training in Cardiac Electrophysiology became available, so my family and I transitioned to Indianapolis, Indiana. During the last 5 months of the training program, I began to seek out job prospects to apply the multiplicity of skills I had in large metropolitan cities. To my disappointment, a good fit for my family and I never surfaced. About to graduate and no job in sight, I came home one evening and a postcard from Middle Tennessee Medical Center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee was on my kitchen table. Where did the card come from? Why are they contacting me? How do they know of me? Did I solicit information from them and forgot about it? This was unusual.
I had never heard of Murfreesboro, and therefore knew it wasn’t a large city. The city didn’t have the cache and bright lights I was looking for so I threw the postcard in defiance in the wastebasket. This postcard showed up again on the kitchen table and I again trashed it. Finally in an act of desperation with no job in sight, a wife, three children and lots of debt, I called this small hospital that did not have the facility for me do what I was trained to do. They invited me for an interview, offered me a job as well as agreed to purchase the needed equipment to begin the Electrophysiology Laboratory at Middle Tennessee Medical Center. What an exciting time. Plenty of expert training skills that no other doctor had in Murfreesboro, a six-figure salary with the upside to make much more, a great career, a beautiful wife and family. What more could a doctor at 45 years young want? Although, there were no recognizable changes on the outside, on the inside I was conforming into a very different man. I had let medicine, knowledge, and cardiology define me rather than recognizing that it was only a gift, a tool given by God, for the good of mankind but for his Glory.
I had been working in the office with another cardiologist for about six months when I received a page from office manager of the doctor which I was working with. of all days, it was Good Friday, April 2005. It was the call that shattered my world, broke the academic idol that I adored so much and set me hopeless. The caller requested a meeting but when I came to the office my key didn’t work. The locks had been changed. I walked in my office and it had been disassembled with everything packed up in a box. I was told I was fired for many unsubstantiated reasons. I was asked to leave the office immediately and to never return. My wife would frequently assist me around the office but she called and was fired as well. I thought it was a bad joke. I couldn’t be fired, after all, I had talent, skills, education, and degrees that no one else had in Murfreesboro. I left on that Good Friday in shame. There was clearly nothing good about this Friday.
However, the reality and weight of this event didn’t take place until the following Monday. No office to go to, no job, no salary, Furthermore, the hospitals said I was no longer able to practice there because the previous doctor I worked with canceled my malpractice. As I drove around Murfreesboro, I wondered whether the multiple degrees, skills, and research I have the power to create a new job, open doors and salvage my hopes and dreams.
At that moment I realized that all I have worked for night and day, studied slaved for, sacrificed, worshipped and idolized had no power to deliver me from the crisis I was in. I began to sink deeper and deeper into hopeless despair and depression. It would take a year to form a company, find a new job and relocate to a new city all the while bills mounting and family life becoming strained by the stress and intention of being laid off. I felt small, betrayed by a Christian friend, ego crushed, hopeless, and helpless. I had hit “rock bottom”. Apparently, this is where God wanted me to be. At the moment, I cried out to him for help. I realized that without him I couldn’t do anything. Up to this point, he was not first in my life. Only a distant third or fourth. Within a few days, a miracle took place. My wife was telling my accountant what had transpired and that I couldn’t get malpractice insurance to start over unless I had a company.
Well, my wife replied ” he has a company. He formed it about 5 years ago called Gethsemane Cardiovascular Clinic. Within 24 hours, IRS blew the dust off the files, the tax identification numbers were restored and now I had a company. It was as though God knew when we were living in Little Rock that 5 years later I would be sinking under the weight of my own idolatry and through his grace and mercy prepared an ‘ark’ to save me called Gethsemane Cardiovascular Clinic.