He Ran Until He Passed Away
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the
prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 1 Cor. 9:24
Christ has established for us a new meaning concerning life and death, which has
completely changed our perspective on both, and defined them in an entirely
different understanding, unlike that which had been engrained in the human mind
of old and in contrast to that of the fixed mindset of people around us today.
Had it not been for the stability of this insight in my mind, and the
transformation thereof into deep convictions that penetrate my being,
controlling my perception and dominating my response towards the surprises of
life, I would by no means have the strength to bear this separation, nor would I
dare to write about him… my younger brother. I had assumed that it would be he
who would write my eulogy, and not vice-versa. Only in the light of this new
meaning, I write to you who love him, a few lines, depicting only the outer
shell of an exquisite portrait, sketched by the hand of the great Creator - the
portrait of my brother’s beautiful life.
The Beginning: 30th December 1965
In the city of Alexandria, on the fifth floor of our family apartment in the
Raghab Pasha neighborhood, just hours before this year would say her goodbye; it
refused to pass before giving us the most precious gift. This valuable present
made 1965 a dear and special year for our family. This happy image is deep in
the furrows of my memory, and I would leap in imagination at a glance from my
heart's beloved companion, to our home a picture of chaos and clamor, and of my
grandmother coming to me, calming me with the promise that she would take me to
see my mother whom I had been kept away from since that morning.
My grandma held my hand and led me to my mother, as she lay in bed after the
delivery of her darling baby. I will never forget the beautiful, serene smile on
my mother’s face as she welcomed me with the news that I now had a beautiful
brother to play with me. Drying my tears with her kisses, my mother drew a smile
on my face and my heart was made joyful. What wondrous news! A companion and
playmate! This was all that the mind of a 4-year-old boy could grasp.
As for the rest of the wonderful news, which my mother didn’t mention at that
time, was the fact that he would not only share my toys, but that as the days
pass, he would be a friend and partner for life. We would always laugh together,
cry together, think together, pray together, and plan together. He would be the
keeper of my secrets, the safe companion whose wisdom and advice I would trust.
He would be my ministry partner, the one I would feel comfortable serving with.
He would be my professional colleague whose capability I completely trust.
And on the 14th of September, 2008 the portrait was finished.
The picture was completed. In the city of Cairo, the final horrific picture was
forced upon me, uninvited and inescapable. The picture is dug into the furrows
of my memory, it will always be there until I see him again, the picture of our
mother releasing a bitter scream of extreme pain as I tell her that her
sweetheart is gone.
And between these two pictures, a filmstrip records the story of my companion’s
life. It is a lengthy film, though it appears short, as it moves fast and is
The existence of my brother on this earth was 42 years, drawn and divided into
seven beautiful portraits by the brush of the Great and Wise Artist. And it took
Him six years to paint each one.
Age 0-6, Extraordinary Child
Magdy lived an
idyllic childhood his first 6 years in Alexandria. Our mother used to introduce
him to all of our relatives and friends as “the calm one.” He was calm in
playing, calm in conversation, speaking little and extremely shy in dealing with
people. That is all my memories hold of his childhood. But the picture in this
stage is characterized by the gaze of his eyes, very deep and very warm, even
for a child so young. My mother’s stories reveal an extraordinary child, one
possessing a great amount of confidence, and always feeling greatly valued by
his father and mother.
Age 6-12, Excelling Pupil
Our family moved
to the city of el-Qusiyya in the governorate of Asiut, and it was there that
Magdy began his elementary studies. From his very first year, the marks of
intelligence and excellence were clear. I have many memories of him during this
stage. I remember how his non-Christian teachers would come to make acquaintance
with my parents, coming often to visit, because they were so amazed by Magdy’s
character and intelligence. Of course, my father would not allow these
opportunities to pass without testifying to them of Salvation and the Great
Savior. I also remember very well, the eagerness of my mother and father to
remind me of my brother’s effort in studying, in hopes of arousing within me
increased enthusiasm for my studies. However, I was just entering the adolescent
stage with all of its problems, and was always out of the house and crazy for
football. Magdy didn’t mind this constant comparison between him and me, because
it was always to his benefit! I can’t remember once that they had to ask him to
study, whereas that was their daily request of me! This comparison only
encouraged him to work harder to guard this distinctiveness, and without
exception, Magdy always took the first place in school those 6 years.
on, Magdy always took the first place in school those 6 years.
Age 12-18, Ardent Adolescent
When Magdy was
in the 6th grade, we moved to the city of Der-Mowass in the governorate of
Minya. It was there that he spent his teen years, and finished his preparatory
and secondary education. It is no exaggeration to say that I have never seen a
teenager who was such a delight to his family. While Morris and I were often a
source of trouble for our parents, Magdy was not only easy-going and compliant,
but he was a constant source of joy; in part, because of his excellence in
studies, and in part because of his moral excellence. I remember that during
this period, it became customary for our parents to be called to Magdy’s school
for the presentation of honors and awards. I’ll never forget one day, when two
of Magdy’s friends came over to visit. Magdy was in the 7th grade (1st prep),
and they sat together in the reception room. After a short time, my mother found
Magdy in his room, sitting on his bed reading a book, while his friends sat
outside! Extremely astounded and upset, she asked him, “How could you just leave
your friends sitting alone like that?” He replied that they had been using rude
words, and he had told them that such words were not to be used in this house,
and had gotten up and left them. Between amazement and admiration, mother was
forced to awkwardly dismiss his colleagues as Magdy absolutely refused to return
to sit with them. During this period, I’ll never forget the fun we would have
together in the summers, as Magdy wrote for us a daily magazine. It included
light-hearted articles and crossword puzzles made up of Bible words. He would
print 4 copies, using carbon paper, and sell them for 2 pennies each… and father
required us to buy them in order to encourage Magdy!
Age 18-24, The Man Who Is A Student
High School, Magdy got the best grades in the whole city. As usual, he was
unsurpassed as the top student in his school, and was accepted into the Medical
University in Minya. At this time I was studying at the Medical University in
Alexandria, and later Morris was in Pharmaceutical University, also in
Alexandria, and Nivine was in Commerce University of Asiut. Of course this was a
heavy financial burden for our parents. I remember well, how Magdy embraced his
early manhood, sharing a great feeling of responsibility with our father. He was
extremely demanding of himself, in order to lighten the load on our parents, to
the degree that our father would fight with him to spend on himself. Father
trusted Magdy’s good judgment, and would send him to the city of Port Said each
year, to buy all of our clothes for us. The most important thing that
distinguishes this period is the fact that after a time of indifference when he
first entered university, Magdy returned to his Lord. Furthermore, Magdy began
to serve the Lord with all his energy and effort and loyalty. I will never
forget the voice of my father on the telephone one night, full of “Hallelujahs,”
as he called to report, “We just now came back from the meeting and Magdy is the
one who gave the sermon! It was a wonderful service and you need to come and see
with your own eyes, and hear with your own ears!” I did indeed travel to
Der-Mowass, and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw him standing there in
front of the people, speaking the Word of God with freedom and abandon, with
concentration and impact! My shy little brother who found it painfully difficult
to simply greet people! I immediately felt that this was the grace of God,
evidence of the faithfulness of His Divine work in him.
Age 24-30, Diligent Doctor
This was the
most difficult period of Magdy’s life, beginning with the bitterest trial we
would face, until later when we would be crushed by his own departure. It was
the departure of our father, just before Magdy was to graduate. On that last
night we took turns staying up by our father’s side. Magdy got up at 3:00am, and
insisted that I go to bed and rest awhile. After one hour had passed, Magdy came
to me in his accustomed quietness and steadiness: “Come, I don’t know what
happened to Dad.” Immediately, I was up and running to our father. He had left
his “earthly tent” to take up citizenship in heaven with the Lord. I found Magdy
crying in my embrace, saying, “He didn’t give us a chance to honor him. He lived
and served us, and now that the time has come for us to honor him, our dear one
has left us.” Magdy spent a year working in a village of Der-Mowass, suffering
much from the isolation and exertion there. But to this day, the people there
still remember his hard work and faithfulness. At this time I had finished my
high studies in Psychiatry, and I urged him to choose that specialization as
well. He reluctantly agreed, however, he would continuously question himself,
unsure that he would make a good psychiatrist. He went to Cairo, and I saw with
my own eyes, the extent of his struggle, suffering and striving to his utmost.
Without exaggeration, I can say that if any young person exerted even half of
the effort Magdy did, they would attain excellence in all their work.
Struggling, striving, doing his utmost in his work, in his studies, in public
hospital, in private hospitals, with paying patients and charity cases - all
which provided experience and skill. All of this was accomplished without
neglecting the ministry of the Word, realizing that it was during this period
that we began together many series of conferences which required of him huge
efforts in preparation.
Age 30-36, Distinguished Minister
could be described as the joyful harvest. Magdy’s name began to be recognized,
famed as a distinguished psychiatrist, trustworthy and faithful. He began his
work with the Caritas organization and his reputation grew in the general field
of human development, working with many organizations and foundations, both
Egyptian and International. He was honored by the United Nations for his
achievements in the area of human development. His private clinic was a huge
success and he became a member of the “American Psychiatric Association.” But
most importantly, his ministry and talents in preaching the Word crystallized
and matured. Arabic-speaking congregations worldwide felt a need for his
service. Magdy was exceedingly successful and devoted to giving the necessary
attention to both his work as a doctor and his service as a minister of the
Age 36-42, Ideal Husband
In October 2002
the Lord honored Magdy, compensating him generously with a virtuous wife who
loved him with all of her heart. She lived for him, devoted and dedicated to
him. He was her mission and ministry. Her undertaking and enterprise was serving
him, flooding him with her feelings, providing all that he needed to be
comfortable in their home. She arranged his appointments, prepared his lectures,
and kept him well fed and clothed. Yes, she was truly his help-mate, prepared
for him, by the God of all grace. As for him, and all that he meant to her, I
will leave that up to her.
- In 1962, my father and mother moved to a distant village in Upper Egypt, to
serve the Lord who loved them. Mother was still quite young at the time, and I
was only 6 months old. While they were there, the Lord gave them a beautiful
baby boy, and they gave him the name Magdy. After 7 months, the child became
sick and died, as there was no doctor or cure available in the village at that
time. After several months, the Lord blessed them with another beautiful baby
boy, whom they named Morris. But 11 months later, he too became sick and joined
his brother for the same reasons. My mother’s heart was painfully broken, and
she and my father returned again to Alexandria, with bleeding hearts and tearful
eyes. But her faith in the goodness of God was not shaken, not even by a hair.
My mother’s prayer was that the Lord would compensate her with two more boys.…
two boys that would belong to Him and serve Him. A few months after their return
to Alexandria, the Lord responded to her request. Showing her confidence in the
Lord, that this was indeed his compensation, she named the boy Magdy. Two years
later, she delivered another son, whom she named Morris, and her desire was
fulfilled, that the boys would belong to the Lord and serve Him.
- During the engagement party for Hala and Magdy, I told Hala that Magdy was one
who was always running in life. And his running is so fast, that you will find
yourself out of breath running after him. My brother lived running, and he
departed running. I don’t believe that this was just a coincidence.
- Magdy announced his departure to many before he left and when he departed, the
seventh portrait was completed. And the reason and timing of his departure was
not because of illness or a mistaken doctor. The Artist finished his work. The
vessel was listening: “You shall call and I will answer You; You shall desire
the work of Your hand.” (Job 14:14). And Magdy soared to meet his Master, to
join with all those whom the Potter has refined and completed his work in them,
that they might forever display the greatness of His wisdom and His grace.
- In Magdy’s farewell service, the Wise and Loving Potter was adding His finishing
touches to the final portrait. We, his family, who lived the details of this
terrifying event, do declare and witness that the hand of the Lord arranged
everything, and was in control of everything, and His Wise hand did not neglect
the smallest details or the largest, in this time when our thoughts and will
were paralyzed. The Lord was indeed present and firmly in control of this
incident and his passing.
- It was not coincidence that my parents gave him the name “Magdy” (meaning: My
glory). Of course, “My” glory was not intended to refer to my mother nor to my
father. But it was their declaration before the Lord, for whose glory alone
Magdy lived all of his life. As if the Lord is pointing to Magdy, saying of him,
“That person is for My glory.”
The Lord has caused us to understand that true death is not at all what people
How can we call “death” that by which we are unburdened from this earthly tent
of bones and flesh, which is doomed to death and decay, that we might be freed
to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven?!
How can we call “death” that by which the soul is released from the shackles of
flesh and blood, to rush freely, joyfully to Jesus?!
How can we call “death” that by which the saint puts down his traveling staff to
end his earthly estrangement and take up citizenship with his Master in heaven?!
No! Never! It is impossible for all of this beauty and magnificence to be called
“death.” Indeed, the Bible calls it departure and habitation.
No matter the cause for this earthly, temporary body to undergo this operation,
the Master does not call it “death,” rather “sleep!” So the soul rushes in joy
and the body lies down in peace!
Magdy did not die. Magdy is in Glory with his Master, and the Glory of His
Master continues to shine through Magdy here and now.