Dr. Joseph Daniel's Story – Physician in the Middle East
“I’m an ordinary doctor who instead of working in a suburb in the West, I happen to work in the Middle East.”
Dr. Joseph Daniel (JD) is a western-trained physician who has been working overseas for the past seven years.
“I’m a Christian who happens to be a doctor,” he says. “So, I use my medicine to go into dark places on purpose. Why? Because I can, because we’re supposed to, and because nobody else is there.”
Early in his faith journey, Dr. JD knew he would go overseas. “Maybe it was my simplistic faith,” he recalls. “(The Bible) says to go, so I just assumed that I would go. I’m still a little bit shocked that people don’t.”
But making the move turned out to be more challenging than he anticipated. Half of the organizations he contacted immediately dismissed him. He didn’t need funding, had no seminary training, and had only basic local language skills. Not to mention hardly any of the organizations were going into the areas of the world where few had ever heard of Jesus.
“Why would I go where everybody is already going?”
God eventually led Dr. JD to a full-time job working as a physician in a hospital in the Middle East. While moving to a new country has been an adventure, his professional life looks remarkably similar to back home.
He still works in private practice and academic settings. He sees patients and trains colleagues. The major difference is his Muslim colleagues and patients who don’t know Jesus and very likely, have never met a true Jesus follower.
Over the years, God has shown Dr. JD that he doesn’t have to be seminary trained to make a kingdom impact in the lives of his friends and colleagues.
Rather, it’s the seemingly obvious acts of showing love, leading with integrity, and doing excellent work on a daily basis that people notice.
One of the simplest ways Dr. JD reflects Jesus at work is by showing up on time. In a western context, punctuality might seem implied. However, in the Middle East, Dr. JD is the only one out of 30 physicians who arrives on time. And it has earned him respect and the opportunity to speak into the lives of his colleagues.
Today, people not only look for ways to work with him but he’s also been trusted by Muslim colleagues to care for their wives and daughters, an incredible privilege and testament to both his competency as a physician and reputation in such a conservative culture. His clinical excellence done with love has led to deeper relationships with these colleagues.
Like most friendships, big life topics come up in daily conversation. In Dr. JD’s case, the most common conversations center around lying, idolatry, marriage, and adoption. And in each discussion, he simply asks, “Would you like to see what the Bible says about that?”
The majority of the responses are curiosity, so right there in the middle of the hallway, Dr. JD pulls out his phone and opens an Arabic Bible.
“In a lot of these countries it’s illegal to have a Bible, so from a distance, it just looks like two guys looking at a phone, when in reality you have a Christian standing in front of a Muslim who’s reading the Bible for the first time.”
More often than not, these friends are shocked to discover wrong assumptions around what Christians believe or how they live. “It’s about removing the obstacles of what they thought Christianity is,” Dr. JD explains. And along the way, relationships deepen.
“Are you kidding me? Tell me more,” his friends often respond when discussing marriage and sacrificial love, or adoption and the idea that God would choose us.
“Very often, when you get people into the Bible, walls start to come down in a really cool way,” he explains. “That’s just what the Bible does.”
The need globally for medical professionals is huge. At his previous hospital, there were 3,000 job openings. “If Christians would go, we could transform that hospital in the Middle East into a Christian hospital,” Dr. JD says.
If one light can shine this bright, just imagine the impact of thousands! After all, it starts with simply reflecting Jesus in the everyday moments of daily life – for Dr. JD, it just so happens to be as a physician in the Middle East.
What would it look like for you to explore taking your job global and working among those who have never heard the hope of Jesus? Connect with a Coach to learn more!
Scatter Stories is a monthly series spotlighting how God is using everyday people in everyday jobs around the world for His kingdom.