The love of God shown through simple practical help has changed the life of Fahim – against all odds, he is now a follower of Jesus.
Fahim* is deaf. He comes from a large family with other siblings and relatives who are also deaf. The deaf in this country don’t have access to good education; in fact a deaf person finishing high school is very rare. They generally go unacknowledged by the wider society and culture. As a consequence, they live in a kind of invisible subculture. It’s with this subculture that I (Joe) have been engaged for the last three years, learning how the Arabic deaf community works: Their struggles, their dreams (which are the same as yours and mine), and learning their language.
I first met 22-year-old Fahim in 2009. We became firm friends. His health was satisfactory but not great. Over last year’s northern winter Fahim’s health got steadily worse. He had respiratory problems and was admitted to the Government hospital to have an operation on his nose, widening the nasal cavity to assist with his breathing. Unfortunately, the operation wasn’t as successful as hoped. Since Fahim comes from a relatively poor family they found it difficult to pursue other options or obtain a higher standard of health care and advice.
Back in the community, Fahim’s health continued to decline and he suffered several fainting spells. His breathing became laboured, loud and raspy. I decided to intervene and take him to see a Dutch doctor I knew with respiratory problem experience. She quickly assessed his condition, modified his inhaler dosage and started to reduce the steroids he’d been taking for the last 10 years. While providing some relief, the steroids had developed some nasty side effects.
Over the next two months I continued to follow up with Fahim and visit his mother. Fahim began to improve but he found it difficult to kick the steroids. We eventually managed to get him admitted to an NGO hospital for a month to be monitored more closely and have his steroids reduced completely.
Expatriate volunteers, including other Pioneers workers, operate this specialty hospital. Under their care Fahim’s health improved dramatically and he broke free of his dependence on steroids. His family was deeply grateful.
During Fahim’s health trauma and recovery I had numerous opportunities to talk about why I choose to be here and not in New Zealand. Fahim became more open than ever to hear about the God who loves all people, has acted and continues to act in this world, and calls those who love him to love like he loves, and live by his Spirit. Fahim came to accept this way for himself.
It is now apparent to people who have known Fahim for a long time that the sickly deaf boy who lived on the margins of Middle Eastern society has changed. In his sign language, Fahim tells them that he now breathes easy because of the love of those who God has sent to his country. He goes on to tell how he has met and experienced this loving God for himself and is being forever transformed in his whole person, not just his lungs!
– Joe and Sue* are members of Spreydon Baptist Church and have been ministering in the Middle East with Pioneers since the beginning of 2008, more recently with the deaf community. Pioneers is a strategic partner of MISSION WORLD.