Out of Africa

Dr. Pat Clark is just wanted to be one of those regular guys that you might have gone to dental school with.

He wanted to quietly sit in class and pass without making too many waves.  This could be easily understood, too.

For most of Pat’s life he had taken the hard path.

When he found himself with 3 young boys in a situation where he could have thrown up his hands as a single parent, he could have moved back in with his Mom and Dad or just handed them off to them to raise.  Or, he could have just been an absentee Dad himself and let the boys raise themselves.

That’s not the kind of guy Dr. Clark is.

He cinched up his belt and dug into a life as a salesman and a parent with a tenacity that many wouldn’t be able to muster.

As the kids got older and life got a little bit easier, he could have rested and settled in for a well deserved rest as he had also risen to a high ranking position within his company.  Instead, he remembered a long-held dream he had forgotten.

He thought about going to dental school.

There were a lot of things going against him.

First, his age.  He was 35 years old and he hadn’t even finished his core requirements from undergrad.

Second, he had other people to consider besides himself.

He had just begun a new marriage with the girl of his dreams.  Surely, he couldn’t just stop being the primary breadwinner to start dental school.

Thirdly, he had to consult his boss.  No, not the CEO at Cook-Love.  You see, Pat is a devout Christian and his devotion to his religion is another reason why you will never hear him tell his story in the kind of detail you are reading right now.

The age requirement was the easiest for Pat.  All he had to do was dig down into his considerable inner reserve and he felt like he could fight through all the difficulties that would come with that.

Then, he just had to get permission from his Earthly and Heavenly bosses.

Penny, like the sweetheart she is, gave him the green light and full support, and after lots of prayer, Pat felt like he would be squarely within God’s will to pursue his doctorate.  As you might expect, becoming a dentist opened doors and opportunities for Pat to express his Faith that he hadn’t even considered at this point.

So, off he went.

First, he went to Memphis State and knocked out that last year of courses to qualify for entry.

Then, he passed the DAT with flying colors.

Then, he aced his dental school interviews.  I can only assume that his amazing energy won the day in that dimly lit interview room.

Next, he entered class in the Fall of 1991 as the oldest member of the class.

He had finally made it.   Maybe he could just coast along now and graduate.

No such luck.

A series of events during his Sophomore year let to the impeachment of the class president and a very reluctant Dr. Clark was forced into the vacated position by his peers who knew that the class needed someone with strong moral convictions and an even stronger backbone to lead them through the next 2 ½ years.

The rest of his dental school years were pretty uneventful and he entered private practice with every intention of just coasting and making a good living.

No such luck again.

It turned out that Pat’s father in law was a minister who had been in charge of a large mission organization in Memphis, Tennessee.

After hearing about the severe need around the globe in the areas that the mission served, Pat was once again led to pray about his future.

Once again, conviction of his heart led Pat to enter the medical mission field and scuttled him off to the Third World.

It wasn’t long until Dr. Clark was heading up those missions instead of just working in them.

Now, Pat leads a thriving mission work out of his church in central Memphis.

He routinely goes on 4 separate week long missions each year.

India, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Honduras are the usual haunts.

And, he has brought his dental mission work home by organizing the original Dentistry With a Heart in Memphis.  His yearly DWH in Memphis routinely draws hundreds of people in need.

His wife has even gotten in on the act and she now goes overseas on separate missions a couple of times each year, herself.

Dr. Pat freely admits that he gets way more out of these mission trips than he gives, and he gives a lot.

Electricity is usually not one of the dental luxuries that he has at his disposal.  Neither is compressed air.  Think, cold steel and sunshine.  Those are his usual weapons on these trips.  Dr. Clark even told me that one of his favorite mission trip instruments is the mallet and chisel.  These are instruments that you just about can’t use in the States anymore due to legal concerns, but on mission trips, they can be your best friend with those hard surgical extractions.

Dr. Clark didn’t want to single out any one group of people as more receptive or deserving on all his trips, but he did single out one person who he feels is serving her impoverished community in a way that deserves to receive help and notoriety as much as possible.

Mary from Honduras feeds hundreds of children at her orphanage each day.  She does this as an attempt to serve her community and her Faith.  “It is unbelievable how much good she can do on pennies a day,” Dr. Pat relayed to me.  “She is feeding all those kids on about 14 cents per child per day.”

In fact, one of the reasons Dr. Pat let me publish his story is so he could help get the word out about her charity.

If you would like to find out more about Mary or Pat’s missions, you can contact Dr. Pat Clark at patclark@patclarkdds.com or Global Ministries at (901) 684-5556.

If Pat’s not Winning, I don’t know who is.

Below is a description of Mary from Pat himself, followed by the letter he sent out last year to try to help her feed the children.

From Pat Clark:
“Attached is an annual letter I send out to a bunch of folks trying to raise money. She is a 72 yo lady who moved to Honduras approx. 15 years ago with her husband just to help those children. Her and her husband, Fred, were on a mission trip with their home church in North Carolina when on their travels they saw all the Honduran children they thought were playing in a garbage dump. When Fred asked the locals why the kids were playing in the garbage he was told they were not playing but looking for food. Some were orphans and some might as well have been because their parents would leave them alone while they traveled to find work. This gruesome picture really shook the both of them to the core and once back in the states the picture of those children stayed with them. One day Fred looked at Mary and said that they needed to go back and take care of those children. Mary agreed and that is how it started. Only living on their social security Fred and Mary started a ministry without even thinking of it as a ministry—they just knew those kids needed help. 10 years ago Fred died suddenly but Mary never even considered moving back home where she has a large family and many grandchildren.”

Mary Hurd Kitchen Fund 2011

Choluteca, Honduras

Many of you already know that each year our church family collects money for Mary Hurd’s Kitchen. This year when all food prices are going up Mary has found a way to save money and still feed the children of  the Choluteca Mission. Believe it or not Mary now raises the Mission’s own cattle, has them butchered and use this meat to feed the children and themselves. She is really something else. This one idea has saved the mission over $7000 per year.

So this year instead of our goal being $29,000 or more, our goal will be $25,000 to cover $22,000 in Kitchen and food cost for one full year, with the other $3000 to help cover some much needed maintenance cost there at the mission.

Please make your check out to Evangel Church and we will get it to Mary. Deadline for our goal is Sunday October 2nd. So please if you have any question please call me or stop me at church.

Thank you so much and may God Bless you through what you do for these children,


Here is an update I just got from Mary:

Pat , Here is a small report on the mission .
This year has been a great year, as have all the others, The Lord is so good to us all the time, He has worked through your church and so many people to keep the mission going.
Our Daycare has 24 to 32 little children that have a nice clean place to play, they get breakfast, snacks, and cookies and milk and sometimes pancakes, then they have a noon meal in the kitchen.
The New Start houses children that don’t have parents, or parents that don’t want to keep them at home, some time child services send us one or two until they can find a foster home to put them in. The children in the home get a breakfast and supper there but eat their noon meal in the kitchen with us. We have a lady that stays there and takes care of them as their mother would.
Our sponsorship  program started with 50 children and now has 563, that are daycare age to college, 11 are in the daycare 32 in there career (that’s preparing them for college) and we have 9 in college, we hope that a lot of the sponsors will be able to send their children on to college as it’s $100.00 a month and I know it’s hard for some sponsors to send that amount a month, this is why a lot of our college students can have 2 sponsors.
Here where the mission is, is a very poor area and it is a very great honor for some of the students to just finish high school.
The kitchen is feeding over 329 children and adults Monday through Friday. Your church people have been funding the kitchen for a few years now and that’s a great Blessing . It’s so good to see these children eat. The Lord is feeding his children and people through your church, and I want to thank each and everyone of you.
In His Service,
Mary Hurd
Posted in Articles, Blog