Psalm 90:12 teaches us to “number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” When applying the truth of those words to the life of Dr. Fuller Robinson, he must be a very wise man, having reached the age of 92.
Fuller has made 65 dental mission trips—and counting—since 1977. These ventures alone would qualify this dedicated dentist for having chosen wisely about how to spend one’s days. Fuller has also involved others in his endeavors. At various times his wife, children, and grandchildren have accompanied him on his journeys.
In 2017, Fuller suffered a stroke, and in 2020, his wife passed away. But that hasn’t slowed down this 92-year-old. Dr. Heidi Haun and Fuller became friends and colleagues in 2016 at Baptist Medical Centre in Ghana. He has been making nearly annual mission trips to the region since 1983, and even a pandemic couldn’t stop him from returning in 2021. According to Heidi, in February, “Dr. Robinson had to delay his most recent trip, but as soon as he received his COVID-19 vaccination, he and a few other faithful volunteers came right away. We are excited to see him again.”
Fuller embraced dental missions in the early 1970s. First Baptist Church in Roanoke, Virginia, hosted a dinner for medical professionals. After hearing one of the physicians speak about trips to South America, Fuller thought, that’s something I can do. Initially he connected with the Foreign Mission Board (now the International Mission Board). Since that organization did not have an extensive short-term volunteer network at the time, Fuller could not immediately be matched with a position. But he was persistent. Fuller found others who were taking the types of trips he desired. These likeminded individuals gave him valuable advice: first, find someone who knows what to do with volunteers; and second, go to a country where English is spoken.
Finally, a determined Fuller met a missionary in Antigua. A medical and dental clinic had been established, and the gospel was shared with everyone who received care. After learning that, Fuller began to travel to Antigua. In his words, “This is the hardest I’ve ever worked. Some of the patients were big guys, and extracting a tooth was hard work.”
On one trip to Antigua, his suitcases didn’t arrive, so he had no dental tools. But the missionary called Antiguan Christians to pray for arrival of Fuller’s crucial items. He was assured the suitcase would come. And it did, while the believers were praying.
Fuller said he felt God’s help on many occasions during his dental missions work. “I remember one medical case when God told me to ‘go for it.’ So I went for it. The procedure was guided entirely by the Lord,” he said. “God did the work through me, beyond what I was capable of. I’m a believer for seeing what God has done. I couldn’t approach this without total belief in God Almighty.”
Fuller’s philosophy of missions is simple: share the gospel. Since that first trip, on his travels to Colombia, India, Liberia, and, most recently, Ghana, he has had many opportunities to do just that. One of his first trips to Ghana was, indeed, memorable. An IMB missionary had heard of Fuller, described as “a dentist who would go out to villages with just basic tools.” A nearby village chief would not allow missionaries to visit, but it was learned the chief’s wife had a toothache. The missionary got word to the chief a tooth doctor could be sent for his wife, so the chief allowed them to enter the village. The wife was treated, with soldiers and spears on each side. The chief’s heart was softened, and he allowed entrance of the missionaries to share Jesus.
Dr. Heidi Haun is featured in the April 2021 Missions Mosaic This Month’s Spotlight article. To subscribe to this monthly missions lifestyle magazine, visit wmustore.com.
Cynthia Price’s most gratifying articles to write are about people and their service. It is a true joy to see how God uses those who commit to Him.