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The Faithfulness Of God
A Surgeon's Testimony By Joseph Mathai
What is extraordinary to me is how faithful God is even when we are outside the household of faith.
In need of a job
When I graduated as a surgeon I wasn’t planning to serve God. I was married to Sarah and had a son, John; all I needed was a job to provide for them. So when an opportunity came to work in west Africa, I took it without thinking. When we arrived there, we were delighted with what we saw: the hospital was well-built, well-staffed and well-equipped, and the home provided for us was very good, with electricity and water. So we were very well looked after.
Our son is dangerously ill
Very soon after arriving in Nigeria, John developed an illness. We did what any parent would do and began seeking out the best paediatrician. We managed to locate a good one who had actually trained in England, but when we arrived at the hospital in which he was working, we found that the staff were not well-trained. So we took John home, and over the weekend he did start to get better. I went back to work, but suddenly John began to get worse. At one point I think he actually had a convulsion. Sarah was at home alone with him, because I was out at work, and all she could do was cry out to God in her desperation. Shortly after praying, a couple, who had come to welcome us, rang the doorbell. They saw the state John was in and came and got me back from work. The lady turned out to be a paediatrician, and together we were able to get John back to health.
This couple stayed with us for a while and they invited us to the church they were attending. Gradually through the preaching of the word we got converted. So God was not just in the business of saving one life, but saving our souls too. I always think of Nigeria as the place where I received my second, and most important birth.
How faith came
One thing that has always puzzled me is that I was brought up with a good Christian upbringing, but yet, I didn’t know my God. Many years later I realised that the problem was not with the word, but with the soil. I didn’t receive the word with faith in my heart. All of us have a veil that covers our heart and it is that veil which prevents us from seeing and perceiving and turning to God. But when we turn to God in true repentance the veil is removed and the glorious light of God shines in. But how does faith come by hearing? Belief is of the mind; it comes from the knowledge that God reveals to us. Trust is instinctive, it doesn’t require any past experience of God. Faith is of the mind, and it must be acted on. It is by the confession of our faith that we come to salvation. We come to salvation by His grace through the faith that He imparts to us. Christ came to redeem us who were under the law. It is God who justifies us. That is how I came to faith.
An Amazing Encounter
I left Nigeria twenty-seven years ago when I came to this country. I have always held Nigerians in very high regard. About six weeks ago I was late for church and we were not sitting in our usual seats. There is a time in the service set aside to talk to other people. I spoke to the gentleman behind me. I discovered to my amazement that this gentleman is the cousin of the director of the hospital where I worked in Nigeria. He was actually one of my first patients in that hospital. To me, it was God reminding me of all the good things He has done for me in my life that I haven’t given enough thanks for. He was not a Christian then, but he is now.
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