Two weeks ago, I spent time at the home bedside of Michael Michael—a dear friend and one of our longtime church members and deacons.
Michael talked with great warmth and joy about the faithful love of God in his life, his love for his family and church family, people to whom he had recently witnessed of Christ, and how he was looking forward to seeing his Lord. I felt like I was sitting by the threshold of Heaven listening to a man whose experience with God and prospects of eternity gave him amazing clarity both in looking back and looking forward.
The Lord did call Michael to Heaven a few days ago (August 18), just over a week after that conversation. I can’t help but feel glad for him to have left the pain of cancer behind and to right now be in the very presence of the Lord he loves. But I also can’t help but feel sad for his family and our church family in this loss.
I’ll never forget when the Michael family first visited Lancaster Baptist Church thirty-one years go. Michael and his wife Aida are both from Egypt. They immigrated to the States (separately) and married here. Brother Michael was saved as a fourteen-year-old boy in Egypt and was already a godly, stable Christian when their family joined Lancaster Baptist Church in 1992. At the time, they had two little girls, who are now both serving the Lord alongside their husbands in ministry.
Brother Michael loved his family with all his heart and was a committed provider for them. He and Aida were just a few weeks away from their forty-second wedding anniversary when he went to Heaven.
Michael was a pharmacist by profession. Yet, even in his work, his real focus was on his coworkers and patients. He loved people, and that love was most seen in his faithfulness to share the gospel with everyone.
In our conversation a few weeks ago, Michael told me in detail about people—fellow cancer patients, nurses, doctors, and others—he had recently pointed to Christ and several he was still praying would be saved.
Michael was a longtime deacon in our church and a blessing to me in that capacity in untold ways. But what most of our church members knew him as was a friend and a faithful man of God. He was consistent in church soulwinning and outreach opportunities. And he loved our church family. If you ever met Michael Michael, you met a man who truly cared about you.
He loved me as his pastor, and he often expressed that love—in person, in notes, and in prayers.
If you’re getting the idea that love was a driving force of this man’s life, you would be correct. And in our last conversation together that day at his bedside, love is what he most talked about. He expressed his love to me and our family, his love for our church, his love for his brothers and sisters, and especially his love for Aida and his girls, sons-in-law, and grandchildren.
But what he most talked about was the love of God—not his love for God, evident as that was, but the amazing reality of God’s love for him in Christ. He talked about how faithful God has been to him through the years and how incomparable the love of Christ is that it holds us even in our weaknesses, failures, and lapses of faith, and how wonderful it will be to see Christ face to face.
Today, Michael Michael does see Christ face to face. And he leaves a testimony to me and to our church family of a faithful race run for Christ.
We will hold the Homegoing service for Brother Michael this Monday at 11:00 AM (PST) at Lancaster Baptist Church. The service will be live streamed at lbclive.tv.