Gihan has two pieces of jewelry she wears with pride… a cross around her neck and a sparkly red, white and blue “USA” pin on her shoulder. They shine as bright as her smile, and that she is able to wear them openly, every day, is a source of great joy, symbolic of the life her family now leads.
It was not always so for Gihan’s family. Though her husband, Mokhlus, built a successful business in their native Egypt, and though they were surrounded by a large and loving extended family, Mokhlus dreamed of immigrating to the United States. In the “land of opportunity,” he thought he could build an even better business, but more than that, he wanted his family to be able to openly live their Christian faith that was the center of their lives.
For years, religious persecution had escalated for Christians in Egypt. They were often taunted, even spit upon in the streets, their churches terrorized by bomb threats. It was not a climate in which Gihan and Mokhlus wanted to raise their four boys.
For eighteen years, Mokhlus applied for a resident visa, granted through a lottery each year in which only a few thousand are issued. Each year, the family was not chosen. Meanwhile, his business thrived, and his family lived well, with a beautiful home, and all that came with financial success and security. Still, Mokhlus and Gihan continued to pray for their dream. As Gihan describes it, their prayers were different. “My husband always pushed God to do what he wanted. ‘You can take away half my money,’ he would pray, ‘but give us a visa!’ My prayer was for God to do it in His way, in His time, His choice.’’
And then came 2009. The family’s assets plummeted along with the world’s markets. Their beautiful home in a historic area of the city was taken by imminent domain so that an ancient roadway between two temples could be excavated for a museum site. Gihan survived a horrific kitchen fire, miraculously escaping without a burn, and Mokhlus survived a terrible car wreck. The final blow came one night with the sinking of a cruise ship on theNile, taking down one of Mokhlus’ shops and most of its valuable contents. The next morning, a phone call came from his mother. “You have a letter at my house,” she said. It was the letter notifying the family that their resident visa had been granted.
“Both our prayers were answered,” asserts Gihan. “Mokhlus asked God to take away half of our money and give us a visa, and He did! And I asked Him to do it in His time, and He did.” By 2010 their family was in East Texas.
Mokhlus and Gihan also found help at Bethesda Health Clinic. Though both are working, their income is modest and neither has health insurance. At Bethesda, they have received both medical and dental care they can afford in the Christian environment they journeyed across the world to find. “Everyone is so patient and kind,” says Gihan. “The dentist, Dr. Holland, prayed with me and asked me to pray too. He told me, ‘you are in faithful hands… not my hands but God’s hands’.”
Mokhlus and Gihan are now U.S. citizens, and their boys are thriving in school with big dreams for their own American futures. “What we love about this community is that it’s not just the Bible Belt… it’s Jesus Land,” says Gihan. “I can’t say we picked this community, but I can say that God picked it for us. God has given us more than we dreamed. He has put many small miracles together to build big miracles.”
One dream remains. Mokhlus would like to start his own business and use its success to give back to the community that has been so good to his family. He already has a name for it – The Ark. “As Noah believed in and obeyed God, we trusted Him to bring us to a new life,” says Gihan. “And He did! Isn’t He good? Isn’t it a miracle?”
By supporting Bethesda, people like you have helped Gihan’s family and many other of our East Texas neighbors get the help they need while celebrating their faith. Gihan is right. God is good and we are blessed and proud to be a part of this generous community.
Through grace, Jamie has found her way back to health, wholeness and her faith from a deep abyss, a well of darkness of her own making. “I made horrible choices, and almost destroyed my life with my own hands,” she confesses. Years of anorexia and addiction were destroying Jamie’s body, and lawless behavior landed her in jail – for 76 long days.
“God never leaves you. You leave Him,” Jamie asserts. While in jail, her heart opened to God once again. “I heard Him very clearly. ‘If you will be honest, I will give you grace,’ He said. He did. And He has kept His promise.”
Jamie had known about Bethesda for many years. She was a patient at the Clinic even during the dark times.
“But on my last visit, Dr. John English fired me as a patient,” she says. “He took his oath as a physician and as a believer seriously. He knew I was lying and he knew I was abusing my medication. He told me I couldn’t come back. That’s when the snowball started, the snowball that lead me to the bottom and then back up again.”
After time in jail, Jamie was court-ordered to a treatment facility, Son Shine Lighthouse, where she spent a year getting her life back on track physically, mentally and spiritually. “I began to feel God working on me. You know, God works within you, and He starts working around you, and He sets you up for where you should go next.”
As a resident of Son Shine Lighthouse, Jamie came back to Bethesda for both medical and dental care. “I had to face Dr. English again, and that was humbling, but he actually welcomed me. The heart of Bethesda is compassion. It’s not just the care that’s given,” says Jamie. “It’s how you’re treated when you walk through the door. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. God’s tender, loving care and mercy are in the heart of Dr. English and every one of the volunteers and employees.”
Now living on her own, Jamie has a full time job but no health insurance coverage. Bethesda is still her medical home, where she’s now proudly receiving preventative care. She’s learning, as she says, “to treat my body as a temple. God’s kingdom lies within me. I have to take care of it!”
Jamie’s new passion is helping other women see their value and find the strength and faith she has found. “God deepened my faith by breaking me to strengthen me,” she asserts. “The woman of old is dead and gone, and I have confidence in who God created me to be.”
Jamie has begun to publicly share her testimony and her remarkable story of recovery with an open heart and without fear or shame. She believes it will lead to something big: “You change a culture by speaking to the heart of a woman,” Jamie proclaims. The pain in one woman’s life, the transformation brought about by God’s grace, the promise of new life found in Him, can indeed be a powerful change agent for our time.
Jamie’s description of Bethesda Health Clinic simply as “grace” is perhaps the most succinct and accurate description of our ministry. Your support of this work creates a vehicle through which we can extend God’s grace, welcoming Jamie and so many others who are hurt and broken, extending to them the grace we have also received and which none of us deserve. It is a great gift, unexpected, unmerited and life-changing.
Darla’s medical history is complex and complicated. She had seen doctor after doctor her entire life, but no one had been able to put the pieces together. Repeatedly misdiagnosed and inappropriately treated, Darla found her life diminished by the sudden and inexplicable attacks that left her unable to breathe. She knew she had food allergies, but that didn’t explain the paralyzing severity of her problems. Often she was unable to work. She could rarely go into public places. “I’m a mother, a wife, a hair dresser. I own my own business. I knew something had to change,” Darla said.
Something did change when Darla found Bethesda Health Clinic. After being seen by Bethesda’s doctors
she was referred to two specialists and underwent test after test. When she came back to Bethesda for the results, Dr. English said to her, “Let’s talk about your asthma.” “I NEVER knew I was asthmatic!” said Darla. “Then he said, ‘Let’s talk about your diabetes.’ WHAT? No one had ever told me I was diabetic either!”
Dr. English had Darla meet with Pam Van Meter, Bethesda’s Wellness and Nutrition Director. “That’s when the light finally went on,” said Darla. “I could connect all the dots. My allergies were causing the asthma. Being overweight was contributing to my diabetes. I UNDERSTOOD!” Pam helped Darla with a diet and a system for checking her blood sugar and taught her to read product labels, searching for even the tiniest hint of ingredients that could trigger her allergies. Armed with her new knowledge, Darla was off and running, watching her diet, keeping a chart and checking her blood sugar. Within just a few weeks, her weight dropped dramatically, as did her blood pressure. She has not had an asthma attack in months and she has been able to stop taking her blood pressure and sleeping medicines. She has also been able to cut her diabetes medicine by a third. Darla is hopeful that she can gradually get off all the medicines she has been prescribed.
Pam is quick to praise Darla’s efforts. “She can now participate in her health. Darla has the power to change her life, and she is using it.”
Darla’s praise for Pam and everyone at Bethesda is reciprocal. “How I wish I had met someone like Pam years ago,” she asserts. “Bethesda has been a Godsend to me. Everyone takes the time to listen, and they listen deeply. They genuinely care about me, and I’m not a number. I wish I could come here every day!”
Light comes in many forms at Bethesda. In our work, in this place, we openly acknowledge that Christ is the Light within us, leading us in the way we ought to go. When His light shines through the people of Bethesda, it bathes our work and the lives of our patients with His love. The light of that love became the light of understanding for Darla, a light that is leading her to a new life, out of the darkness of illness and into a new life of health and wellness.
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