Interview with John G. P. Boatwright, Jr. M.D.
Founding member: Carolina Eyecare Physicians & Physicians Eye Surgery Center

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When did you become a Christian?

I grew up in a loving Christian home and we attended church regularly. Since I was a young child, I believed that Christ was God’s son, died for my sins and was my Savior. Basically, I knew jesus in my head but not fully in my heart. Through my college and med school years, I tried to be a good Christian, doing lots of good works, going to church faithfully and trying to obey the ten commandments. The problem was I knew I wasn’t measuring up. Then in 1988, just after marrying my sweetheart Barbara whom I had met initially at St Philips Church, our marriage was not going as I had planned and I became a very resentful new husband. She was having to travel back and forth to another state to care for two ailing parents and our time as newlyweds together was limited and stressful. I was selfish and angry. Then in November of that year in the chapel at Camp St Christopher, in His providence and love, I had a powerful and life transforming encounter with the Living God. For the first time in my life, I experienced jesus’ unconditional love and grace and was convicted of my own unworthiness and His complete worthiness. God met my repentance with His presence and His promise. The good news of the Gospel came alive for me.


Was their a point in your profession where your faith helped you make a good choice?

When I was completing my training in Ophthalmology, at MUSC, Barbara and I earnestly prayed and sought God’s guidance about where to live and which practice to join. I knew I wanted to be group practice, and I had good offers with fine groups in other cities we liked in the Carolinas and Virginia. But God was telling us something different. God planted in my heart a desire to build a multispecialty eye group in Charleston from scratch. It meant that I had to go solo, a route which I did not like at all. With Barbara’s support, we developed a business plan, stepped out in faith, took out a bank loan for a new business and I we lived on a resident’s salary for several years as we started a family and paid back the bank loan. It was a time of total surrender and trust. I was reminded by my wife that we, as Christians are to “walk by faith and not by sight” … a hard thing for a new ophthalmologist! I doubted and second guessed myself several times along the way. I asked: “Lord, have I done the right thing? This is so hard!” Within 7 years, I was busy and brought in a my first partner, who continues to this day to be one of my best friends. Since that time, God had grown and blessed the practice far beyond what I could have asked or imagined. Carolina Eyecare now has over 17 outstanding doctors who I am delighted to call colleagues. About 5 years ago our group launched a program called Operation Sight to provide cataract surgery at no cost to disadvantaged citizens in our region. What a blessing it’s been to give back in this way.


How has it shaped your family?

Our two children, a son 26, who just got married and a daughter, 23, both have a resilient faith and are seeking God’s purpose in their lives. My wife Barbara, a clinical psychologist and my best friend, is now pursuing God’s call on her professional life in launching a start up Christian counseling organization, so now the tables are turned …… and I am the one supporting her! It is a phase of hard work and planting seeds for The Kingdom, but we know God is in the middle of it. We are also excited about an endeavor together with other couples in a marriage mentoring initiative.


What would you say to young people starting their career? What advice would you give to them about connecting their faith and their work?

Seek God first and foremost, dream big and be prepared to work hard and take risks for Him. Striving for excellence with compassion in eye care continues to be my goal. Invest in others, put their needs ahead of your own. Try not to take any credit yourself, because all that we are and all that we have comes from a gracious and good God who loves us.


Why do you sponsor?

Because I believe in the mission of the Leadership Foundation and the biblical concept of the Body of Christ working together and one another in our community.


How do you and Carolina Eyecare connect with the mission of the Prayer Breakfast?

Having been in medical practice for almost 26 years, I’m grateful for all the business and community leaders in Charleston who have impacted my professional life in a meaningful way and want to give back to the community. My first prayer breakfast was in 2004 when Oliver North spoke, and I’ve been coming ever since bringing staff and friends. There’s something about corporate worship and prayer across all denominational and ethnic lines that is tremendously encouraging.