LEWISVILLE, Texas ? Combining medicine and ministry, Ray Bandy, M.D., sees his calling as both physician and preacher as interrelated as Matthew 4:23 described Jesus’ ministry. “And Jesus went about…preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.” Bandy serves full-time as senior pastor-teacher at Trinity Southern Baptist Church in Lewisville, as well as medical director for the Lewisville-based Christian Community Action Adult Health Center.
“Medicine and ministry are tremendously interrelated because the illustrations and applications in healing the body and healing the soul are inseparable,” Bandy said, adding that the patients he treats at the health center are “walking, talking sermon material.”
In addition to medical healing, Bandy has been used to cause some spiritual healing by helping resurrect a church seven years ago; a church that had failed in three prior attempts of starting. Two years later, the church increased in size forcing it to double its education space. In 2001, the church completed a new auditorium.
“We started with only six cars in the parking lot and maybe 15 to 16 folks coming. Both the Denton Baptist Association and the Baptist General Convention of Texas were thinking about selling it, but the church wanted to keep going.”
Now the church has a clean bill of health, humming along about 225 in worship and an average of 180 in Sunday School.
A heavenly call
At age 45, Bandy admits that his calling into a dual career wasn’t always so clear. Growing up on a farm in southwest Missouri, Bandy was saved at a revival at age seven and was raised in a Christian family.
He describes his mother as a dedicated Christian and a strong Bible student who raised five children who all now serve in Southern Baptist churches today.
But a call into the ministry? “I never even had a thought about becoming a preacher.” Instead, he wanted to play baseball. He earned a full scholarship to Crowder College. During those years, Bandy said he realized he “wasn’t going to be the next Mickey Mantle,” and began praying about what God wanted him to do. Since he had a talent and love for science, he studied medicine. Leaving behind his baseball scholarship, Bandy transferred to Southwest Baptist University Bolivar, Mo., where he received an academic as well as spiritual education from dedicated Christians.
It was on a Sunday evening during the middle of the worship service that Bandy had an experience never to be repeated but also never to be forgotten. To this day, he can explain it no other way than God sent him his undeniable calling. “During the service, a spiritual being, maybe an angel or messenger from God, appeared to me above and in front of me and said ‘You are going to preach.’ I heard a literal voice and it shocked me. I looked around because I thought surely others saw it and heard it but no one else did.”
Being a man of science, Bandy states it is ironic that God would use such a supernatural way to call him into something he’d never even considered. “I can’t explain it, other than as a result of that experience, I know I cannot ever give up on my call. The force of the command was so strong that it has never been a question of whether or not God has called me to preach.”
For eleven years, Bandy assumed God was calling him into medical missions. He finished his medical studies at the University of Missouri Medical School, did his residency and taught at the University of Oklahoma specializing in infectious diseases and tropical medicine. He then attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and while in Fort Worth, he met his future wife, Jan.
The vision clarified
While he was in a private practice in Medical City, Dallas, Denton Baptist Association contacted Bandy to serve as pastor. It was then God began to unveil the medicine and ministry vision. For 15 years, Christian Community Action Founder Tom Duffy and others had been praying for a doctor to begin a medical clinic for the poor. With the donation of a 2,500-square-foot building, he and a nurse and a physician’s assistant began seeing patients one afternoon a week.
It’s easy now for the Bandy’s to see the call of the Lord, but seven years ago it was a major decision the couple made to go to a church that had, in baseball terms, already struck out three times previously.
Without regret, Bandy honestly admits both ministries have been at various times personal struggles. “We’ve sacrificed time, talent, money, everything to see these go successfully. Jan has had to do double duty,” he said. “I believe I am a better man as a pastor of a small church and providing medical help for free, than I was as a private physician…and I think Jan would agree with that,” Bandy said,