J Lawton Smith Award Recipient

J Lawton Smith was one of the original founders of the COS.  He was globally well known as a neuroophthalmologist who was charismatic in practice and his faith!

The J Lawton Smith Award is given out each year at the COS Annual Meeting to an ophthalmologist who has shown a lifetime commmitment to serving the Lord through their personal practice of excellence in medicine, academic influence, and/or missionary dedication.

The original ophthalmic missionary

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“Physicians need to learn that they are not the ones who restore people’s vision.  It is God who does that.  He just uses our hands.”

Original interview excerpts by Mary Beth Seal – 2009

“When I was 15 years old, God told me that everything I had he had given to me. In the book of  I Corinthians 4:7, it says, “For what makes you different from anyone else?  What do you have that you did not receive?”  I knew I had to give Him everything because he had given it to me.”  This is his recollection of being called into God’s service.

            About a year after that, he believed God was leading him to become a doctor which wasn’t good news to his family, financially.  There were no doctors in their family.

Through having been in the U.S. Army, World War II and God’s providential care; his education was paid for.

            The small congregation he belonged to had five mission fields they supported.  His brother was sent to India and he was willing to go wherever they sent him as well.

In 1947, India was divided into Pakistan and India.  One million people were killed and there were fourteen million refugees because of the divided nation.

            Church World service interviewed him to go to Pakistan.  At the time he was engaged to be married and so he told his fiancé, “I’m going to Pakistan.  What are you going to do?”  She replied, “I’m going too.”  Three weeks later they were wed and she worked at his side as a nurse for the next forty years in Pakistan.

            He saw his first fifty thousand patients walking down the road to the “small pox” hospital they were working at and spent the first six months treating refugees.  “The poor patients would bring their own food, their own bed, and a relative with them.  It made them feel at home, and it wasn’t a bad way to run the hospital.”

            His first six month term transitioned into a seven year term, which transitioned into a total of forty years of service in Pakistan.  When he turned age 65 he was told that he was too old and needed to retire.  He didn’t accept that information so he and his wife signed on with Christian Blind Mission and served in China in over thirty provinces for the next ten years of their lives.

            While in China, they stayed in small towns and villages where there was great need for eye health care.  Dr. Christy was one of the first physicians to use intraocular lens implants in a developing country.  “We put in 600 each year to start with and eventually were doing 1,000 cataracts a month.”

            The Christy’s have been married for 62 years in 2009 at the time of the interview.  They have five children.  One is a physician, two are nurses and one works in Blind Rehabilitation; in Orientation and Mobility for blind children.

            A word of wisdom from Dr. Christy:

“Physicians need to learn that they are not the ones who restore people’s vision.  It is God who does that.  He just uses our hands.”


Enjoy this rich uncut interview before Dr. Christy’s death.

JLS Award Recipients

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