Skull Basher to Brain Healer

Fourteen-year-old Ben was on the fast track to prison. The African-American youth had no father, he was failing every class at school, and, worst of all, he had a ferocious temper. He once tore open a classmate’s forehead with a rock, and he even threatened his own mother with a hammer. But Ben did not end up in prison after all. Instead, he landed in a hospital—one of the most prestigious in the world. Today he is Dr. Ben Carson, chief pediatric neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins University Hospital. At this year’s National Prayer Breakfast, Dr. Carson told the dramatic story of the way God turned his life around. The first person to stop Ben’s one-way trip to disaster was his mother. She did two things: She took him to church, and she turned off the TV. While his friends played in the streets, Mrs. Carson, who had only a third-grade education herself, made her son read several books a week and submit written reports on them. His mother’s efforts paid off. Within a year and a half, Carson recalls, "I went from the bottom of the class to the top of the class." But there was one thing his mother couldn’t control: Ben’s terrible temper. One day he became outraged at another boy. "I had a large camping knife," Carson recalls, "and I tried to stab him in the abdomen." But the blade struck the boy’s belt buckle and broke. Suddenly Ben realized what he was doing and was horrified. He ran home, locked himself in the bathroom, and fell to his knees. "Lord," he prayed, "I cannot control this temper. It’s up to You—I’m giving it over to You." Ben spent three hours closeted in the bathroom, wrestling with God in prayer and Scripture meditation. When he finally emerged his temper was gone, never to return. In that cataclysmic experience, Carson realized how God could actually be the father he had lacked. Of course, he knew God was already his heavenly Father. But, Carson said, "I began to understand that I had [also] adopted God as my earthly father—somebody that I could go to, somebody who, if you allow him to… [would] control your life, would make it something special." Carson did put his life under the Father’s control. He graduated from college and medical school with top grades, and today he is a world-renowned neurosurgeon. When Siamese twins were born joined at the head, it was Carson who flew to Europe to perform the remarkable surgery which separated them. But how differently Carson’s life might have turned out. Today more young black men sit in prison than in college classrooms. And some 90 percent of prison inmates grew up in fatherless homes—just as Carson did. Apart from God’s grace, Carson says, "I could easily have ended up in prison myself." As we observe Father’s Day, you and I need to think of ways we can lead fatherless youngsters to their heavenly Father. One thing we can do is buy copies of Ben Carson’s autobiography, Gifted Hands, and donate them to school libraries or give them to fatherless youngsters we know. Stories like Ben Carson’s will teach children about a God who promises, in the words of the psalmist, to be "a father of the fatherless."


Chuck Colson



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