More than a decade ago, I called Rush Limbaugh’s show and, amazingly, got through. Sharing with the call screener what I wish to discuss with Rush, he placed me on hold for more than an hour. As I saw the battery on my phone looming dangerously low, I scrambled to plug it in and held my breath while hoping not to lose the signal.
Finally, at the bottom of the second hour, I heard the click on my phone as Rush came on and said, “Peter …welcome to the show.”
We had a lively chat and Rush seemed genuinely interested in my discussion and kept me on for nearly ten minutes (a lifetime on his show). Asking about our work, he graciously allowed me to give out our website.
After hanging up, my phone buzzed constantly for nearly a half-hour as I received numerous texts from friends who heard me.
Following the texts, I mistakenly thought the moment in Rush’s huge spotlight was over. Rush, and his late producer, Kit Carson, evidently connected with our work and sent out the audio and transcript of the call, along with the headline: “They’re doing the Lord’s work!”
Among the emails, calls, and donations that poured into our organization from Rush fans across the country, one stood out. A man named John from Connecticut emailed with a deeply meaningful message. I called him and we started a friendship. A former orthopedic surgeon, he expressed interest in our work with amputees and prosthetics in West Africa. Following the amputation of my wife’s legs, she envisioned a way of helping provide prosthetic limbs to fellow amputees in developing countries.
John traveled with us twice to Ghana, and one of the trips we met a little girl named, Sandra. About a year prior, a car struck Sandra and she lost her right leg below the knee. Sandra’s mother brought her to the clinic, but after examining her, our prosthetist pointed out a small bony protrusion in her limb that prohibited a well-fitting prosthesis.
John and I went to the local teaching hospital near Accra and met with their medical staff to inquire about the possibility of surgery. Relying on John’s orthopedic background, we developed a plan with the hospital and our organization sponsored the surgery.
Sandra’s recovered quickly and she was fitted for a new prosthesis, and she walked for the first time since her accident.
Sandra’s grown into a successful young woman and has received new limbs along the way. All because John went on the trip—because Rush Limbaugh cared enough about our work to share it with his fans.
As Rush Limbaugh’s eyes filled with tears while receiving the Medal of Freedom at the State of the Union on Tuesday, millions of Americans' eyes also filled with tears. The impact he’s had on this country and beyond cannot be measured.
It remains astonishing how many people despise Rush while admitting they never listen to him. His love of country, freedom, and the dignity of human life define his immense career. Even deeper, there’s a quiet love of people that extends beyond the showmanship and his crusade against things that assault the exceptionalism of the American ideal and morality. Anyone who listens for more than thirty minutes will hear his reverence for the things of God and his desire to lift others to a better life and knowledge of their own worth in light of the work of Christ. Through his public and private challenges and shortcomings, Rush’s experienced that redemptive work in his own life—and his passion to share that understanding is contagious.
Watching his emotional response as the First Lady adorned his neck with our nation’s highest civilian honor, the nation saw what millions of ditto-heads around the world already knew: Rush is doing the Lord’s work—and has done so for some time.