Dose of Truth

Helping others

Tim Richards

Five-year-old Beth Usher experienced up to 100 seizures every day. She often injured herself when she fell during one of her seizures. When her mother needed to shower or get dressed, she would prop up Beth on soft pillows to watch “Mister Roger’s Neighborhood.” Beth believed Mister Rogers was her friend. Interestingly, she never had a seizure while watching the show.

Neurologists eventually diagnosed her with Rasmussen’s Encephalitis, a rare brain disease which slowly killed cells on the left side of her brain. The only cure was an operation which would remove half her brain. Beth’s mother called the studio where Fred Rogers filmed his show explaining Beth’s condition. She told them her daughter had no seizures when watching the show and believed Mister Rogers was speaking directly to her. She hoped her daughter might receive an autographed picture or encouraging note.

The week before her surgery, Mister Rogers himself called. He asked if he could speak to Beth about her upcoming procedure. During the conversation she admitted she was scared but wanted her seizures to stop. In a nearly hour-long conversation Beth told him things she could not say to her parents.

Following surgery her neurosurgeon explained it had gone well. However, later that evening her brain stem swelled, and Beth slipped into a deep coma. Soon afterwards her frightened parents received a phone call from Mister Rogers. He did more than listen, he also prayed with them. Beth’s family had not realized the well-known children’s entertainer was also a minister.

Every day for two weeks, Mister Rogers called to check on Beth and pray with her mother. One morning he asked if he could visit the following afternoon. Her mother explained she was still in a coma and would not know he was there. Never-the-less, Mister Rogers flew from Philadelphia to Baltimore to visit. He asked her mother not to tell anyone because he did not want the press to be there.

Several days later the child regained consciousness. Years later Beth described Mister Roger’s visit this way, “I’d love to end this story by telling you that right there and then I emerged from my coma but… what I can tell you though is that Mister Rogers became my real friend and… we remained close… for the following 20 years until his death on Feb. 27, 2003.”

This story illustrates why Fred Rogers is so admired 20 years after his death. He may have been a well-known celebrity, but the man practiced his faith by serving others. Jesus challenges us to live the same way. “Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave.” (Matthew 20:26-27, NLT) Those who live the way Jesus challenges us to live are like Mister Rogers, they help others and make our world a more positive place.

As a pastor and columnist for nearly 15 newspapers, Tim Richards has lifted the spirits and challenged the hearts of those who have strong faith as well as those whose faith is weak. In his third book, “Sailing Through the Storm,” readers will again discover new ways to live with godly perspective in a world that increasingly seems to have lost its way.

Tim Richards

has been a pastor for 37 years, serving five churches, including his current church, The Refuge in St. Louis, which he founded. He and the congregation minister to those who are hurting and do their part to expand God’s kingdom. Tim and his wife Kelly have five children. “A Dose of Truth” which he has written for more than 25 years appears in 13 newspapers. His book, “Thriving in the Storm: Discovering God’s Peace and Perspective in Turbulent Times,” is available from Amazon. Feel free to contact him at Photography is another of his skills. Pastor Tim’s photos may be viewed at