“What Men Meant for Evil, God Used for Good”
The Bible tells the story of how the older brothers of Jacob’s favored son, Joseph, out of jealousy and anger, sold him off to some Midianite merchants heading for Egypt so that the hated Joseph would no longer be an irritant to them. God, however, had other plans for Joseph, resulting in Joseph becoming a great blessing to the Egyptians and to his very own people several years later.
In this final installment of the life story of our FB. neighbor, Doug Abernethy, we find that he experienced an event similar to Joseph’s initial misfortune and subsequent victory. In 2000, while working as an addiction counselor for a private Methadon/Heroin recovery clinic in Kansas City, MO, two thugs barged into Doug’s office demanding drugs. Doug explained that all the center’s drugs were locked up in the center’s pharmacy and that he had no drugs in his office. Not believing Doug, the two thugs proceeded to beat him unmercifully with two sawed-off baseball bats they had hidden in their coats, leaving a battered and unconscious Doug lying on the floor in a bloody heap. (The two thugs were quickly apprehended and each received a forty-five year prison sentence.)
This brutal attack on Doug wreaked severe injuries to his spine and shoulders, setting off a long series of surgeries interspersed with brief periods of recovery. Six weeks after his first surgery, Doug returned to work at the same clinic. Six months later an unfortunate accident befell Doug at work when the back of a new office chair, not properly set, gave way, sending Doug crashing to the floor on his back, causing severe damage to the two vertebrate above his tailbone. After another surgery and several weeks of recovery, Doug once again returned to work. After two months back on the job, however, Doug lost the feeling in his legs. This dire condition put Doug in the VA hospital, where it was discovered that he had a three inch gap or dry space in his spine, requiring extensive bone grafts from his hip, and the insertion of several titanium plates and screws followed by another long period of recovery.
On Oct. 1, 2001, Doug, unable to work, was granted disability status. Over the next ten years, Doug underwent ten additional surgeries, eight for his spine and two for his neck. His last surgery in 2011 saved him again from paralysis and was performed by Dr. Tullis at the Little Rock, AR VA hospital.
Doug moved back to rural Kansas to live near his parents to help them in their failing health. In 2005, Doug’s parents, now requiring full-time help, moved into a nursing home, allowing Doug to move on. His father passed in 2011, while his mother is still alive at age 100.
While traveling in the summer of 2006 with his brother, David, looking for a place to retire, they swung by our fair city. Impressed by the natural beauty of this area and by its affordable housing, Doug bought a well maintained mobile home in the trailer park area and it is still his home today. But not only his home, it is a place where people are welcome to share their burdens with Doug.
It is no secret that there are many folks in this area that struggle with addictions, marital abuse, and other problems. For the past ten years, Doug has made himself available – and always on a pro bono (free for good) basis – to many hurting people. Doug’s approach is non-judgmental, accepting, and sympathetic. From his twenty-five years as a professional counselor, Doug is able to offer proven and case appropriate steps leading to recovery and wholesomeness. He listens, he sympathisizes, and then he presents options for the help-seeker to consider to move them on to a better life. Some choose to try and some don’t, but Doug never closes his door, especially mindful of how long his own healing journey took. God never gave up on him and in God’s timing, He has used Doug to be a blessing to countless others. Doug has been and is God’s “Joseph” even now.
Today, at the age of 76, and while battling several health issues, Doug continues to use his lifelong traits of compassion, perseverance, and fortititude in the service of others. Uncomplaining and grateful, Doug enjoys the life God has given him. Our town certainly has been blessed having Doug Abernethy as our friend and neighbor. Drop him a note of thanks at 321 Westwood Rd.
P.S. He loves books and cookies.