OGDEN -- The man behind Ogden's most recognizable face has lost sizeable amounts of tumors from his head over the last few months but his life doesn't appear to have changed a great deal.
Maurice Simpson, 33, of Washington Terrace sported his new look last Sunday at the New Zion Baptist Church but he was met with the same old appreciation for who he is.
As services ended, members lined up around the chapel to shake the hands of new members and key church officers.
In his usual spot just in front of the reception line, Simpson got his usual dose of handshakes and appreciation from nearly all the members.
"He has made us a little more humble and understanding of how life really is," said Joyce Tillman-Fry of South Ogden, a member.
"Our congregation had not had the opportunity to observe visually how good God is until he came," she said.
Tillman-Fry said for nearly a decade, New Zion members have heard Simpson testify of how happy he is to have gone through life with neurofibromatosis. It's a genetic disease that causes tumors to grow from nerve tissue.
"He has expressed how happy he is to have gone through this," Tillman-Fry said. "It has taken us to a new level, a new understanding of how good God is in our lives."
Simpson described the result of his last surgery as having removed "a great, big fist full" of tumors out of his face. He said the surgery also aligned his eyebrows but not his eyes.
"My eye just keeps falling down," he said of tissue surrounding his right eye socket.
Sabrina Davis, wife of the church's pastor, explained how New Zion members appreciate Simpson's trials by quoting a recent Sunday School lesson at the church.
"When you suffer for the sake of Christ, you should be rejoicing," she said.
Simpson has undergone a great deal of suffering the last few months as he received two massive surgeries at the University of Utah Medical Center in January and June.
But he's also received his share of love from the community as a result.
A local businessman who wishes to remain anonymous donated the funds for the surgeries. Subsequently, many members of the community responded with gifts to Simpson and to his family.
Simpson said the most important thing to he wants to stress in the publicity surrounding his surgeries is his gratitude to his "guardian angel" who paid for the procedures.
Davis said Simpson teaches the gospel well through his positive attitude as he goes about his daily life, willfully facing those who frequently avoid him, stare at him or make rude comments or gestures.
"For me, it shows that God will use anybody regardless to make you look at yourself and to show that he is able."
She said Simpson's presence at church has allowed people to examine themselves.
"He's made a lot of people say 'Why am I saying, why me?'," she said.
And she believes of all places, church is the proper place for that to happen.
"This church is the place where we should receive everybody," she said.
In last Sunday's sermon, Pastor Bruce Davis mirrored those sentiments.
Referencing New Testament scripture in 1 Colossians 10, he challenged those present to live worthy to please God.
"There is a spiritual calling that God calls you to do," he said. "That is a 24-hour job."
He told members to make their lifestyle be the gospel of Christ and an example of love.
He reminded them about New Testament Scripture John 3:16.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life," reads the King James version of the Bible.