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Watson overcomes brain damage from gunshot wound to become pastorcomment (0)

December 3, 2009

By Emily Flack

After years of therapy, he was able to begin speaking clearly in spite of his brain damage and paralysis. His symptoms began to subside and lend freedom to his speech, allowing him to form and communicate words equal to his competent thoughts.

The words “from tragedy to triumph” are not just a sermon catch phrase for Dean Watson, pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church, Union Springs, in Bullock-Centennial Baptist Association.

They are also his life’s story and a worthy title of one of his two books.

At 27, as a successful businessman in the insurance company and married with three children, Watson had few complaints and no thoughts of ever going into the ministry.

But in December 1972, Watson was shot accidentally in the back of the head through the left side of his brain with a high-powered rifle while deer hunting.

It left him an invalid. There’s more than just a scar 1-and-a-half inches deep and 3 inches long to prove it.

He had to train his live brain cells to take over the dead cells, which eventually allowed him to regain cognitive and speech abilities and allowed him to relearn to read, write and take control of his limbs.

Realizing he couldn’t do much about his condition but that he could work through it, Watson recalled advice from James 1:5 spoken to him as a teenager: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

“I told my neurologist that God had called me to preach,” said Watson, who had been going to school during the nine years he was on disability earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

In spite of criticism he received from doctors, “I stepped out on faith and sold my home,” he said.

He moved his family to Florida to begin what became the first of his two doctorate degrees, “and the Lord has really blessed me.”

“He is a soul winner,” said Linda, Watson’s wife of 45 years.

Watson’s handicap has opened doors for evangelism, and when those doors open, he walks through.

“My handicap has not been a liability; it’s been a blessing,” he said.

Inspired by a quadriplegic he met during rehabilitation, Watson shares his testimony by painting nature and wildlife scenes, some of which are displayed in Union Springs’ gift shops. As he’s invited, Watson also illustrates spiritual truths through what he calls “chalk talks” in churches and schools and at special events.

“Everything I’ve gone through my wife and I both count as a blessing. We’ve been in several different states, churches and ministries and at one time I couldn’t even read or write,” he said.

Watson has written two books: “From Tragedy to Triumph” and “He Sees an Eagle in You.”

“It’s obvious that he is hiding behind the cross, ”said Julian Cope of Inverness Baptist Church, Union Springs, in Bullock-Centennial Association. “He is an inspiration to so many. God has taken Dean so far, from being immobile to quite mobile.”

Cope is encouraged by and emphatic about spreading the word about what God has done for Watson.

“Dean is not looking for popularity or publicity, but we ought to do all we can to tell Dean’s story,” Cope said. “If God can do it for Dean, He can do it for anyone.”

It was Watson’s vision for Macedonia Baptist to use its 19 acres of land as a community gathering space. The church built a baseball field with a fence, dugouts and concession stands all through donated money.

“Since January, the Lord has brought about 60 new people from the community to our church,” Watson said. “It’s not our ability but our availability that’s pleasing to the Lord.”

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