In 1976, God put a burden on my heart to invest deeper into the lives of those around me. I resigned from my position as a dentist in Cairo, Egypt, to pursue full-time ministry.
My wife, Laila, and I began working as missionaries in volatile areas, such as the Middle East and North Africa, by ministering in war-torn zones to refugees and displaced Christians, emboldening them to stand firm in their faith. We disciple them through a 15-month discipleship curriculum. Every three months, we (or a member of our team) fly to places like Syria, Iraq, South and North Sudan, Jordan and others.
This is no easy task, but it’s rewarding to see people’s lives change in locations where you typically only hear terrible news. It’s our privilege to share with them the Good News!
While living in Egypt, we had no medical insurance. It’s simply not part of the culture and is astronomically expensive. However, as we got older and began full-time ministry, Laila and I felt the need to prepare for healthcare costs.
When we heard about CHM, we thought that it would be way over our budget like other options we researched. However, as we looked into it, we realized that it was affordable! We were grateful to be able to join with like-minded people who care about others and to be part of a ministry with a biblical structure. We became CHM members in 2011.
In Feb. 2019, I started having chest discomfort. I didn’t think much of it until one day when Laila and I were walking together. I stopped during our walk and told her about my discomfort. She answered, “At your age, that means you need to see a cardiologist.” She immediately booked an appointment.
The cardiologist sent me for a couple of tests, the results of which did not turn out well. He asked me to go to the local hospital to have a cardiac catheterization.
I thought I would be out of the hospital the same day. I even told the Arabic Bible study I led that I would be at our study that night. However, when the cardiologist looked at my test results, he refused to let me leave. “Everything is blocked,” he said. “You can have a massive heart attack at any time.”
The next day I underwent a quadruple bypass and graft surgery.
For the first time, I felt I was face-to-face with death—the closest I have ever been despite living dangerous places—but I wasn’t scared. Instead, I felt peace. It was the peace of knowing (or thinking) that I had completed my mission with my wife, my two godly sons who married two godly women, as well as in my life’s ministry. I was satisfied with all that God had accomplished.
Laila called CHM right after we heard the news. She was crying on the phone, so the CHM staff member prayed for her and offered to share our prayer request with other members. The staff member also walked Laila through the process for submitting medical bills and asking for financial aid and discounts.
Eventually, the entire hospital bill was written off.
The biggest blessing we received was all the cards and prayers that poured in from CHM members. We received daily emails and cards from people we didn’t know and will probably never meet. The only connection we had with them was our Lord Jesus Christ. I’m grateful the body of Christ has no borders.
I am alive today because my mission is not yet finished. Laila says that God has given us the spirit of Caleb, to be fruitful even into our final days (Numbers 14:24). In January 2019, shortly before my visit to the doctor, we started a new mission called For the Global Glory of God (4G3) to embolden displaced and persecuted Christians in the Middle East to stand firm in their faith. Our hope with 4G3 is that God will use us to minister to those who are marginalized, those about whom you hear nothing on the daily news.
My prayer is that we as Christians will not be bystanders, but that each one reading this message will actively reach out to the persecuted church. CHM and 4G3 are built on the same biblical foundation. We are all one body; when one part suffers, the rest of the body suffers too. I thank God daily for this ministry that allows me to live out my faith without worrying about healthcare costs and enables me to continue in my own ministry.