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EU, God + Medical School

It was the beginning of summer 1970, and I was finishing my last year at Evangel College (as it was called at that time). Having failed at another college 4 years earlier, Evangel had given me a second chance…

Skip back to the fall of 1966…it was Evangel or Vietnam for me. We were at war. I came to Springfield in late August, a few weeks before the fall semester was to begin, hoping to be admitted. This was before the military draft lottery, so if you weren’t in college you were drafted and going to Vietnam.

It was the day of my interview, a hot and humid August day in Springfield.  I wore my only suit—wool with a vest. I had to wear flannel pajamas under my suit because wool made my skin itch, but I had to make a good impression. It was ok, I had worn flannel pajamas under wool suits all my life.

I underwent an intimidating gauntlet of five one-on-one interviews with Evangel President, Robert Ashcroft; Dean of Students, William Hanawalt; Academic Dean, Zenas Bicket; Campus pastor, George Wood; and Admissions Director, Riley Denton. (I think they wanted to be sure of my intentions.) I would be told on the spot whether it was ‘no, or yes, we want you to stay.’

I don’t remember what I said, but I think that they felt my sincerity. I wanted another chance. I wouldn’t have blamed them if they had said no, but they didn’t. They said “stay” and study here at Evangel! It didn’t feel like: ‘Welcome to Evangel; you’re on probation’ ….. It was more like; ‘You’ll have to start on academic probation, but welcome to Evangel! Get up and try again.’

And so I did, and God helped me make the most of it. I was off probation in my first semester, and regularly on the Honor roll or Dean’s list. I played varsity baseball and golf, intramural basketball, enjoyed tennis, table tennis, skiing, ice hockey, bowling, and was active in Student Council, president of my senior class and president of Circle K (Kiwanis), the largest service organization on campus at the time. I held down two jobs while at Evangel: as a night motel clerk at Empire Inn from 7pm-7am for 70 cents/hour, and periodically as a diener for a group of pathologists at Cox Medical Center, assisting with postmortem examinations (autopsies). During the summer, I learned how to work as a laboratory medical technician.  Academics, athletics, leadership, work and medical experience—I was learning it all.

College is less a test of your intellect than of your intentions.

I was hoping against hope that I would get into medical school, but as one rejection followed another, I began to realize that medical schools had a hard time overlooking that first failed year of college. There was one remaining medical school where I was still being considered. In the meantime, I decided to pursue other plans, and applied to and was accepted into a master’s graduate program in genetics (thank you Dr. Steve Davidson, my Evangel Biology professor). I thought from there I might try again, but I was very unsure of myself.

During my time at Evangel, I grew spiritually and started to understand myself in some measure…a work still in progress. I understood much about God from Evangel’s professors and fellow students. Part of that spiritual growth was nurtured by my participation for 4 years in SCOPE (Student Corps of Pentecostal Evangelism) Sunday school outreach. My post was located at an empty storefront at 1050 W. Lombard Street in Springfield where we gathered kids from the neighborhood nearby.

Leta ‘Skeets’ Stanton Amon, Kandy Wren, myself, Janet Goodrich and the kids at the
Lombard Sunday school, 1970.

I learned a lot from this outreach. The kids seemed to enjoy our friendship and guidance and were interested in the Bible stories that we shared, and they asked some tough questions. As my senior year was winding down, there were many weekend weddings of my classmates to attend, and so I missed a number of Sunday school sessions. When I found myself back on campus near the start of the summer break, it was Sunday.  I had no intention of going to Lombard Street that day, as I had already said my goodbyes, handed the ‘baton’ to the underclassmen who were going to restart the outreach in the fall. It was the last Sunday school before the summer break, I was not expected or needed. But God; He had other plans. He woke me up and gave me an unmistakable urging to go to that Sunday school that morning. Thankfully I had the good sense to get up and go.

No one pays attention to junk.

After I arrived, I understood why I had to be there that day. As we opened the door to the storefront and the kids tumbled in, they stomped all over the pile of junk mail that the ‘store’ had received over the previous weeks. The kids’ footprints were all over the mail. The other teachers didn’t see it, but I noticed the 3 business envelopes that didn’t look like junk mail, and they weren’t.

The first was dated 3 weeks before and was my acceptance letter into medical school. The second was a follow-up letter, re-affirming my acceptance and expecting a reply. The third was a final notice from the medical school stating that if they did not hear from me by a certain date (it was a Monday), they were going to give my spot away to someone else. The Monday in question was the following day. In the many months that had transpired during the application process, I had forgotten that I had used the address of this little SCOPE Sunday school as my ‘off campus’ address to establish my state residency status. The exact location of Cloud 9 was established that day!

So the mail from that one remaining medical school had been sent to 1050 W. Lombard St.

Fast forward….after more than 40 years in a rewarding and blessed medical career, I cherish the fact that God put me on this track and gave me the privilege of knowing I was being guided by His Spirit from the very start. There have been other times, but that’s another story…

Fredrick Mihm- ’70
Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine
Division Chief, Critical Care Medicine
Stanford University School of Medicine