Immigrant Blessings

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I keep wondering what would have happened. . . .

My husband, Phil, suffered a ruptured cerebral aneurysm earlier this year. We were told that 60 percent of folks who experience an event like that do not survive. My heart is filled with gratitude for our doctors, without whom Phil’s outcome could have been different. Many of them are immigrants. I keep wondering what would have have happened if these folks had not been allowed into the country.

Let me introduce you so some important people on Phil’s health care team.

Dr. D. is from India. He moved to Grand Rapids only a few months ago from Chicago. He is the vascular neurosurgeon who “glued’ the bleeding aneurysm. I was immediately impressed with how meticulously he described the procedure before he had me sign the permit. He made his rounds early in the day, and if I was not in Phil’s room, he made a point of returning or even looking for me. The day after surgery, he spent about 15 minutes showing me the CT scans of before, during, and after the procedure, explaining what was happening in Phil’s brain.

Dr. R. is a neuroscience critical care intensivist from Turkey. He works seven days on and seven days off. He was very attentive, often visiting two or more times a day. He had to make critical decisions, especially during the first week when Phil’s brain was swelling. I told him there were lots of folks praying for wisdom for him. 

The week Dr. R. was off, Dr. J., an African American woman who was born in the United States, took his place. She too was paying attention to every detail of Phil’s recovery. One day Phil saw her walking by in the hall and said, “I like her.” She left a meeting to give me a hug when we transferred out of critical care. 

Dr. S. was on call for neurosurgery the second weekend when the difficult decision was made to reinsert Phil’s ventricular drain. He is from Poland. He had not met us before that weekend and spent lots of time making the decision of replacing the tube and where it should be inserted. Two days later he visited us, dressed up in a suit. I remarked about that because everyone wears scrubs. He explained that he was not working, and this was not an official visit, but he wanted to know how Phil was.

During those three weeks of critical care, I often thought about our country’s current attitudes about immigration. And then I thought about the text of a recent worship service: “Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Rom. 15:7).

I am so grateful for each of these folks and their excellent care.

About the Author

Janice Quist ( has worked for Hospice of Michigan for 20 years. She is a member of Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church, Grand Rapids.

See comments (2)


Well certainly "immigrants [can be] a blessing and not a burden," as the OSJ campaign says.  On the other hand, I've had small business clients put out of business because of illegal immigrants who compete in certain trades but tend not to follow the rules (like minimum wage, withholding, paying worker's compensation,  etc), and individual clients who have for similar reasons lost their jobs or been unable to find jobs.

Certainly, allowing for immigration, well done, can be a good and constructive element of national policy.  But I'm not sure anecdotal stories are a good way to implicitly argue for government public policies.  One can both show love (and gratitude as in this article) for immigrants who are here, legal or otherwise, and yet advocate for political policies that just say no to many who would like to emigrate to the US.  

This article fails to make that distinction, unfortunately, but rather suggests the two questions are only one.

What a beutiful testimony to how you have seen the face of God through immigrants! Thanks for sharing, Janice.