December 14, 2015

A Tribute to Jay Randall Sloop, MD

I first met Dr. Jay Sloop on a phone call.

It was early one morning in 1988. I was pastoring in Oregon. The Total Health Foundation board and the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Upper Columbia Conference had asked me to join the staff of Total Health Lifestyle Center. I had turned the call down twice already.

In this first, short call, Jay told me that in his devotions that morning God had impressed him to call me to say he believed I should accept the call because I was uniquely qualified for this position. I was almost in shock when it ended. Yet that call changed my life in so many good ways.

During the ensuing 10 years while connected with the lifestyle center, I worked very closely with Jay on many projects. He was a member of the board of directors of that institution, and served as volunteer physician to the guests of the lifestyle center that the foundation operated. Our association included consulting about patients, presenting weekend seminars in Adventist churches and camp meetings, serving on our local church board together, and even hiking and climbing mountains together.

By the time I left Yakima, Washington, in 1998 to become Health Ministries director of the Upper Columbia Conference, we had become not only professional colleagues but close, personal friends as well. He served as a valued advisor and strong champion for the Health Ministries department work. We served together on numerous boards and committees.

Read “Body of Missing Adventist Doctor Found in Ukraine”

I learned to respect and appreciate Jay in so many ways. Let me share seven of the ways that Jay affected my life, the life of our family, and countless others.

  • He humbly modeled for all a deep dedication and love for God that began each day in careful study of the Bible, the Spirit of Prophecy, and the Adult Lesson Study. Until his retirement he had a very busy OB-GYN practice in addition to his volunteer work with the Lifestyle Center. Yet he always took time for devotions and prayer every day. His family, friends, and patients knew Jay loved God supremely.
  • He demonstrated God-centered leadership in all those he touched. His family was always a priority. No day ended without family worship. Today, all three adult sons are professionally accomplished, and each one carries on their father’s example of faithful devotion to God, family, church, and ministry to others. This example has been a wonderful encouragement to me.
  • He was a man of great wisdom gleaned from his Bible study and prayer life, an observant analysis of life events, and a careful evaluation of his own experiences. He was never the first to speak on boards, but when he did, it was with carefully chosen words of wisdom and tender understanding.
  • He was generous to a fault! Throughout the community he was known for the “blue basins” of fresh fruit from his own orchard he would personally deliver to doorsteps. If he didn’t have his own fruit he would purchase some from a local grower for these encouraging gifts. In the winter after a heavy snow it was not unusual for him to show up on one of his orchard tractors to clear it! He and his wife, Sharlene, were faithful stewards of God’s blessings to their local church and school, but also to many projects around the world.
  • He never took life for granted. During the years I knew him, he was a much admired speaker with the ability to hold the audience captivated with riveting illustrations that were right on point. He surprised me one day when he shared with me that this ability was not natural, but how he had pled with God to give him the ability to communicate for Him — and how hard he had worked to develop those gifts. Later in life after a mountain climbing accident he practiced and practiced to regain the ability to express himself well!
  • He had a wonderful gift of human understanding. At the Lifestyle Center we had a guest once who was very unhappy with the low-sugar jam that was being served, sowing seeds of discontent with the other guests. One evening Dr. Sloop showed up at supper time with a small brown bag in hand, and gave it quietly to this guest, telling her she could share it the others if she wished. In the bag was a small jar of regular “full-sugar” jam! She was overjoyed. She used it ever so sparingly and refused to share it. However, the complaining stopped, and in a few days she was happily eating the house low-sugar version!
  • Over the years he developed some signature phrases. The one I will never forget, and which so beautifully reflected his life philosophy is: “Health Ministry must be centered in Jesus.” These were truly words of great wisdom.
  • Jay was a wonderful mentor to me — and countless others. We frequently discussed initiatives, programs, and challenges facing the work of health ministry that we both passionately loved for more 25 years.

    Today, I keenly miss my godly friend, wise advisor, and wonderful encourager!