During the past two weeks, Labib was on a mission.
A mission for Labib has only one meaning: the service of the Lord.
He said goodbye to his other half Carolyn and the children and he headed to Amman. He sat with each of us alone. We enjoyed the meeting with his joyful demeanor and he enjoyed it as well.
He visited his birthplace Jerusalem and then he went to follow through with his service in Iraq.
On Monday morning (Nov15) he left Baghdad to al Najaf. On the way, he shared the gospel with the taxi driver. In Najaf he met with the rest of the team- Lilian, Jonathan, Audrey, Leslie, Savannah, and Omar. They had shawerma sandwiches and he was telling them of his latest testimony. They took the van to visit an important person Labib was in contact with. On the way, he was hit with a stroke and lost consciousness. Then he woke for a few seconds, opened his eyes, and asked “what happened?” They told him as they were speeding to the nearest hospital where a second stroke hit him. After a little while, he opened his eyes as Lilian and Jonathan were holding his hands. Lilian told him: “Jesus is with you and he will not leave you.” He answered with a long breath; Ameeeeen and closed his eyes. Seconds later a third fatal stroke hit him and he no longer saw Lilian or Jonathan. He saw the smiling face of Jesus telling him the most precious words that make living or dying worthwhile:
video of the funeral here
‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ Mathew 25:23
Labib ended his unique life with the word Amen as we end all our prayers. His life until his last breath was a life of prayer.
After a life of service as a youth, he ended his college education with an MA in irrigation. He worked with distinction for two years and was on his way to professional success when he surprised us one day with a fateful decision: “I am called to serve the Master in Jerusalem.” He left his work and moved to become a servant at the Alliance church in the old city of Jerusalem where he was born. He later joined the Bible Society. There he met a young woman who had come from England and their hearts met. She loves Jesus more than anything and had responded to a call to serve among Arabs whom she loved. The call of Jesus brought them together and the fruits of this union between Labib and Carolyn would come: Mathew, Katie, Rami, Jad and Timothy. With them came a rich lifetime of service for Jesus that began in Jerusalem and has filled the entire world.
This week I reviewed the life of my younger brother Labib since childhood. I would not be exaggerating if I said that in all my life I have never met anyone with as pure a heart as that of Labib. I am not exaggerating because I heard about it this week from so many people who knew him around the world. The latest was the testimony of the head of an international organization who said: “I have never met a person that resembles Jesus like Labib.” Labib knew Jesus from an early age growing up in the home of Odeh and Maha, in which Jesus was the air that was breathed. He loved people with unique honesty. He also loves Jesus with all his heart, all his sold and all his mind and all his strength.
Jesus was the center of his life and the joy of all his life. Believe me, Labib’s smile, which we all knew him for and which never left him, that true and genuine smile is a result of the love of Jesus in his life. He gave his life without condition to Jesus and his soul was filled and gave fruits. Like his father, Labib hated the lord of this world: money. His network included those who had billions, and he could have made millions in a legitimate way. He could have filled the world with his accomplishments. What others with greed do: they leave this earth with rotten stomachs and empty hands with nothing to show the Master. Labib has left this earth as a branch that has given fruits. There the Lord Jesus has given him a crown and pointed to the heap of these fruits. Labib would be surprised: “Is it possible? All this you have used me for?”
The scope of Labib’s service includes east and west, north and south. He accomplished a lot in distributing the word of life. His service never took on the role of a dry institution but instead was always personal. He left a deep impression on everyone he dealt with. His purity, his happiness, and joyfulness allowed him to have personal interest with everyone individually with simplicity and spontaneity. With the poor as well as with the rich, he treated them no differently. He dealt with them in his smiling face and simple appearance, with this simplicity he advised major international firms whose leaders wanted his advice and trusted his judgment and his credibility. For years, he and Carolyn helped a lot of people from their own limited resources quietly and discreetly. Even the closest people to them did not know the depth of their generosity. Spiritually, like his father, he talked about Jesus with everyone he met including the Jewish people. He was like Paul, burdened with their absence from Jesus. He spoke their language. He was a testimony walking on two legs. He spoke with passion about the love of Jesus with the minister as well as with the driver. The soldier and the civilian. The neighbor and the merchant. In the street and in the airport, in the plane and in the taxi.
In his last taxi ride, at the end of the trip, he made sure to transmit the love and joy of Jesus. He did it quietly, without broadcasts, without lights, and without reports. He did it being fully nourished with the love of Jesus and full of the love to serve and to harvest.
His greatest source of strength was the love and spirit of Jesus in him, but the second source of strength on this earth was Carolyn. She worked quietly behind the scenes, supporting, solidifying, and providing strength with her wise advice and prayer. She took care of the five children, almost always alone, with strength and merit, while Labib circled the world. In the times he spent with them, and especially the last two years due to the pandemic, he filled them with his love, and along with Carolyn the love of Jesus and His service.
All this is not to show the greatness of Labib. The credit goes to Jesus who lives in an open and loving heart and who made him in His image. Labib is “not bigger than life” but Jesus in him is bigger than life and bigger than death. It is not too much to say that Labib’s life was like that of Jesus, full of fruits that he planted behind the scenes.
Early this morning we received his body. I told Philip: “the person here is not Labib, but the tent for which he lived.” Labib at this moment is living in the glory above that surpasses all understanding. He is enamored in the heavens with its beauty and the beauty of Jesus as he kisses his pierced hands and feet. Thanking him for the everlasting glory that was purchased by his blood as we await the call of the final trumpet and the glory or the resurrection when God brings back the body with shining glory. A physical body like that of the resurrected Jesus that will live forever on the new earth with Carolyn, Mathew, Katie, Rami, Jad, and Timmy. With our dad and with all of us and with all of you who love Jesus. This hope is not a possibility but it is a reality that has been assured with the documented proof of the resurrection of Jesus. This is the hope of life. He who doesn’t have this hope through a new birth will be miserable no matter what his earthly glory is. He will be dead while above and in the words of the risen Lord: “it would be better for this man if he was never born.” Labib is calling you for this glory. Don’t delay. Death doesn’t wait. The check of forgiveness has been written in your name in the blood of Jesus. Don’t refuse. Don’t reject life. Jesus died for you. Don’t die.
Our life is worthless without Jesus and the hope of his resurrection. It is like steam that appears for a little and then disappears. This is the last chance. Our life is merely a transit area so that we can accept Jesus and have the real-life that God has prepared for us on the new earth. How would this farewell have been without Jesus? A huge difference exists between those who have hope and those without.
Are we in our homeland and Labib has been estranged from us? No, the opposite is true. We are strangers here and Labib is in the homeland. We are mere sojourners.
. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it (2cor 5:8 &9)
To many servants I say: let us learn from the life of Labib. Enough. Enough service for lining the pockets. Enough hidden issues and conflicts. Let us serve the Lord alone in a true and pure service that all can see and be happy with. Let us look to what Labib said recently in an interview he gave to a foreign media outlet three months ago: he was asked what his favorite verse is and he replied:
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe
In the Middle East, when a person asks someone that they love “how are you?” the other often replies “I am happy if you are happy.”
Carolyn, Mathew, Katie, Rami, Jad, and Timmy, if Labib from glory asked you now: “Carolyn how are you and the kids doing?” You would reply: “We are happy if you are happy”. Then the reply from the heavens will come: “Happy, my dear?”
“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Co 2:9)
Good bye Labib as you are around the loving throne of glory.
تكافح مجلة “ملح الأرض” من أجل الاستمرار في نشر تقارير تعرض أحوال المسيحيين العرب في الأردن وفلسطين ومناطق الجليل، ونحرص على تقديم مواضيع تزوّد قراءنا بمعلومات مفيدة لهم ، بالاعتماد على مصادر موثوقة، كما تركّز معظم اهتمامها على البحث عن التحديات التي تواجه المكون المسيحي في بلادنا، لنبقى كما نحن دائماً صوت مسيحي وطني حر يحترم رجال الدين وكنائسنا ولكن يرفض احتكار الحقيقة ويبحث عنها تماشيًا مع قول السيد المسيح و تعرفون الحق والحق يحرركم
من مبادئنا حرية التعبير للعلمانيين بصورة تكميلية لرأي الإكليروس الذي نحترمه. كما نؤيد بدون خجل الدعوة الكتابية للمساواة في أمور هامة مثل الإرث للمسيحيين وأهمية التوعية وتقديم النصح للمقبلين على الزواج وندعم العمل الاجتماعي ونشطاء المجتمع المدني المسيحيين و نحاول أن نسلط الضوء على قصص النجاح غير ناسيين من هم بحاجة للمساعدة الإنسانية والصحية والنفسية وغيرها.
والسبيل الوحيد للخروج من هذا الوضع هو بالتواصل والنقاش الحر، حول هويّاتنا وحول التغييرات التي نريدها في مجتمعاتنا، من أجل أن نفهم بشكل أفضل القوى التي تؤثّر في مجتمعاتنا،.
تستمر ملح الأرض في تشكيل مساحة افتراضية تُطرح فيها الأفكار بحرّية لتشكل ملاذاً مؤقتاً لنا بينما تبقى المساحات الحقيقية في ساحاتنا وشوارعنا بعيدة المنال.
كل مساهماتكم تُدفع لكتّابنا، وهم شباب وشابات يتحدّون المخاطر ليرووا قصصنا.