I Found Something Better Than Medicine
“WHAT you are telling me is my childhood dream come true!” I enthusiastically spoke those words to two new patients back in 1971. I had just opened my first clinic as a newly qualified doctor. Who were those patients, and what was that dream of mine? Let me tell you how that conversation changed my priorities in life and why I believe that my childhood dream will soon come true.
In 1941, I was born into a modest family living in Paris, France. I enjoyed learning, so imagine my disappointment when at age ten, I became sick with tuberculosis and had to stop my studies at school! Doctors recommended that I remain in bed to avoid tiring my lungs. So for several months, I spent my time reading a dictionary and listening to programs broadcast on Radio Sorbonne by the University of Paris. When my doctor finally said that I was cured and could return to school, I was overjoyed. I said to myself, ‘What doctors do is wonderful!’ From then on, I dreamed of curing people of their sicknesses. Whenever my father asked me what I would like to do later in life, my answer was always the same, “I want to be a doctor.” That is how medicine became my first love.
SCIENCE DRAWS ME CLOSER TO GOD
As a family, we were nominal Catholics. But the idea of God was vague in my mind, and I had many unanswered questions. It was only after I started studying medicine at university that I became convinced that life was created.
I remember the first time I observed tulip cells under a microscope. I was impressed by how the cell’s components reacted to heat and cold. I also observed the cytoplasm (a substance inside the cell) contract when exposed to salt and expand when put in pure water. These and countless other reactions enable organisms to adapt to changing environments. When I observed the incredible complexity of each cell, I could see that life was no accident.
During my second year of medical studies, I saw more evidence that God exists. In anatomy classes, we examined how the structure of the human forearm enables us to bend and straighten our fingers. The relative position of the muscles, ligaments, and tendons is a marvel of engineering. For example, I learned that the tendons that attach one of the forearm muscles to the second bone of the finger divide in two, forming bridges under which the tendons going to the fingertips slide and are held in place. Strong tissues also hold the tendons close to the finger bones. Without these mechanisms, the tendons in the hand would stick out like taut bowstrings. I could clearly see that a great intelligence was behind the design of the human body.
My admiration for the Designer of life grew as I studied the process of childbirth. I learned that before birth, a healthy fetus receives oxygen from its mother via the umbilical cord. Therefore, the alveoli, tiny balloon-shaped structures inside the lungs, have not yet been inflated. As the time for birth approaches, the alveoli line themselves with a substance known as surfactant. Then after birth, a remarkable chain of events accompanies the newborn’s first breath. A hole in the baby’s heart closes, directing blood to the lungs. At that vital moment, the surfactant prevents the surfaces of the alveoli from sticking together as they quickly fill with air. Instantly, the baby is equipped to breathe for itself.
I wanted to get to know the One who created such marvels, so I started to read the Bible in earnest. I became fascinated by the laws of hygiene included in the covenant God made with the nation of Israel over 3,000 years ago. God instructed the Israelites to bury their excrement, to wash themselves regularly with water, and to quarantine anyone showing signs of an infectious disease. (Lev. 13:50; 15:11; Deut. 23:13) The Bible reflects an understanding of how disease is spread that scientists acquired only in recent centuries. I also recognized that the laws on sexual hygiene in the book of Leviticus contributed to the general health of the nation. (Lev. 12:1-6; 15:16-24) I concluded that the Creator gave these laws to the Israelites for their welfare and that he blessed those who were obedient to his commandments. I became convinced that the Bible is inspired of God—a God whose name was unknown to me at that time.
HOW I MET MY WIFE AND FOUND JEHOVAH
While I was at university pursuing my career in medicine, I met a young lady named Lydie, with whom I fell in love. We were married in 1965 when I was halfway through my studies. By 1971, Lydie and I already had three of our six children. Lydie has been a wonderful support to me, both in my work as a doctor and within our family.
Acts 15:28, 29) Then she and her husband went on to show me what God’s Kingdom will accomplish; it will do away with suffering, sickness, and death. (Rev. 21:3, 4) “What you are telling me is my childhood dream come true!” I exclaimed. “I became a doctor to relieve suffering.” I was so enthusiastic that we conversed for an hour and a half. By the time the couple left, in my heart I was no longer a Catholic, and I learned that the Creator I so admired had a name—Jehovah!I worked in a hospital for three years before setting up the clinic. Shortly afterward, a married couple, the two new patients mentioned at the outset, came looking for treatment. I was about to write a prescription for the husband when the wife requested: “Please, Doctor, no blood in the medicine.” Surprised, I asked: “Really? Why?” She replied: “We are Jehovah’s Witnesses.” I had never heard of Jehovah’s Witnesses or their stand on blood. The lady took out her Bible and showed me the Scriptural basis for their decision not to take blood. (
I met with the Witness couple three times in my clinic, and each time we talked for over an hour. I invited them to my home so that we could have more time to discuss the Bible. Although Lydie agreed to join us for the Bible study, she would not admit that some of the Catholic doctrines we had been taught were wrong. Therefore, I invited a parish priest to our home. We debated church teaching late into the night, using only the Bible. That discussion convinced Lydie that Jehovah’s Witnesses were teaching the truth. Thereafter, our love for Jehovah God grew to the point that we both got baptized in 1974.
PUTTING JEHOVAH FIRST
What I learned about God’s purpose for mankind had a profound effect on my priorities. For Lydie and me, serving Jehovah became the focus of our life. We were determined to raise our children according to Bible standards. We made the principles of love of God and love of neighbor the unifying force in our family.—Matt. 22:37-39.
Looking back, Lydie and I often laugh about how our children perceived our unity as parents. They knew that Jesus’ instruction to “let your word ‘Yes’ mean yes, your Matt. 5:37) For example, when one of our daughters was 17, Lydie did not allow her to go out with a group of young ones. Someone from the group said to our daughter, “If your mother won’t let you go, ask your father!” But our daughter replied: “There is no point in doing that. They are always in agreement.” Yes, our six children saw that we were united in applying Bible principles. We are grateful to Jehovah that today we have a large extended family of servants of Jehovah.‘No,’ no” was the rule in our home. (
Although the truth had changed my priorities, I wanted to use my love of medicine to benefit God’s people. Therefore, I volunteered to serve as a doctor at the Bethel home in Paris and later at the new Bethel home in Louviers. I have been commuting to Bethel for almost 50 years. During this time, I have made some very dear friends among the Bethel family, some of whom are now in their 90’s. I also enjoyed a nice surprise one day when I met a new Bethelite. I learned that I had delivered him some 20 years earlier!
I HAVE SEEN HOW MUCH JEHOVAH CARES FOR HIS PEOPLE
Over the years, my love for Jehovah has grown as I have observed how he guides and protects his people through his organization. In the early 1980’s, the Governing Body set up a program in the United States to establish better communication between Jehovah’s Witnesses and the medical community.
Then in 1988, the Governing Body set up a new Bethel department called Hospital Information Services. Initially, this department supervised the Hospital Liaison Committees (HLC) created in the United States to help Witness patients find suitable health care. When this arrangement was extended worldwide, the HLCs were set up in France. I marvel to see how Jehovah’s organization lovingly supports sick brothers and sisters in their time of need!
A DREAM COME TRUE
Medicine was my first love. But as I analyzed my priorities, I came to realize that the most important healing is of a spiritual kind—helping people to reconcile with the Source of life, Jehovah God. Following my retirement, Lydie and I spent many hours each month preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom as regular pioneers. We still share to the extent possible in this lifesaving work.
I continue to do what I can to provide temporary relief to the sick. But I realize that even the best doctor is incapable of healing all sicknesses or of preventing death. So I look forward to the time when pain, sickness, and death will be no more. In that rapidly approaching new world, I will have eternity before me to learn more about God’s creation, including the marvelous way he designed the human body. Indeed, my childhood dream has been only partly fulfilled. I am convinced that the best is yet to come!