Fred Douglas Shepard was born on September 11, 1855 in Ellenburg, New York in Clinton County. His father died while he was very young and his mother spent most of her adult life as an invalid. It was probably through this that Fred became associated with illness and caring for the sick. Fred lived with family in Madrid. It was there in a revival meeting in a Baptist church that he accepted Christ as Savior and threw himself completely into the Christian life. At the age of 22 he studied medicine and at 27 married a young lady who was also a doctor. They felt a calling and turned their faces towards the east … Eastern Turkey to be exact.
The Shepards spent the remaining days of their lives in Eastern Turkey. He started a school of medicine and 221 men graduated from there to aid in the terrible disease and suffering throughout the country. His records show that by 1914 he had seen 6000 patients in his clinic, called on others in over 2000 homes, and had only 800 paying patients.
Shepard’s service was so significant that he received decorations from the Red Cross and President Taft in 1909 and from the Sultan of Turkey in 1911. The Sultan said, “The decoration bestowed upon you is nothing compared with your most admiring sympathy shown to the suffering humanity.”
In 1908 the largest protestant church in Turkey held a silver anniversary of Fred Shepard’s ministry there. It was filled with Moslems, Catholics, Gregorians, and Jews as well as Protestants. For two hours these folks stood and talked about what Dr. Shepard had done for them. While reflecting over his ministry he said that the celebration was really not about him but about one even greater; God and His love. “Because I have understood a little about that love, I try to let others know about it. This is my purpose in life. I did not come to this country to make money or a reputation. I came to bear witness that God is love. If by my work I have been able to show you him, I have had my reward and I thank him.”
This 5 feet four inch husky farm lad from Madrid brought relief to an entire country in an era when disease ran rampant.
Fred Shepard understood a little of what of means to: ’Love your neighbor as yourself.’
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