SCATTER STORIES: Pediatric PT in the Middle East

March 15, 2023

If she were chasing money or fame, Gaye would have stayed in Southeast Asia. As a pediatric physiotherapist, she could have earned a good salary there, and, as a content creator, she could have continued to interact with her social media followers in person at sporting events.

Instead, she felt God nudging her to use the skills He’d given her to make a difference where He was not yet known. So she started praying for two things: personal career growth and people in the Middle East.

Gaye had posted her CV on a few job websites, but she was surprised when a Scatter Global recruiting partner reached out to her about scheduling an interview. She remembered sitting in front of her computer at midnight, chatting with the recruiter. What she had expected to be a formal conversation instead seemed like connecting with a friend. “I believe it was more of a divine appointment,” she said. “I think God already orchestrated everything.”

God was also answering her prayers. After a second meeting with the recruiting partner, Gaye interviewed with the department head at a hospital in the Middle East. Then she was offered a job.

Although she had been praying for this opportunity for three years, leaving her family and friends to move across the world took incredible courage and faith.

“God called me to be here in this nation, to be an extension of His healing hands and advancing His kingdom through my profession as a physiotherapist,” she said.

Community connections overcome challenges

Even though her job in the Middle East was a direct answer to prayer, Gaye struggled with loneliness and culture shock when she arrived. “For six months, I had really bad homesickness,” she remembered.

She also needed to navigate different attitudes and actions in her multinational work environment. “For example, here in the Middle East, it’s normal for them to speak loudly, shouting with each other. But in my country, when you’re shouting to someone, it’s disrespect,” she shared.

Creating a new community helped her overcome those challenges. “It’s good to connect with a church and people having the same faith,” she explained.

To meet her practical needs, one leader in the expatriate church she attended helped Gaye buy housewares and donated some extra items. To encourage her to stand strong in living out her faith in this place, a group of believers prayed for her to persevere. “Their support, their encouragement for me, their prayers—it really helped,” Gaye said.

Purpose-driven physiotherapist

“Even in high school, my favorite subject was science,” Gaye recalled, acknowledging her God-given aptitude for her field. “But it was my mom who chose the career for me…I think she saw the potential.”

Gaye moved to another city in her country to study as a physiotherapist. After earning her degree, she worked for four years as a pediatric physiotherapist in a government-owned community-based rehabilitation center. That experience prepared her for her current job in the Middle East, helping expand the hospital’s pediatric rehabilitation department as well as serving some adult and pregnant patients.

One patient, who was half Arab, half Afghan, had suffered from severe neck pain for ten years before coming to Gaye’s hospital. “I got to know her more, talking to her, asking her about her problems and helping her out with the skills I knew,” Gaye said.

Alongside the manual therapy and exercises, Gaye also listened to the woman and reassured her when things got tough. For the patient, that person-centered care was life-changing. Eventually, the woman experienced relief from her long-term pain, and, although it did not disappear completely, Gaye said she felt better—a stark contrast from results at the other places where she’d previously sought treatment.

“One of my goals is to help patients out whenever they have problems and help them achieve their maximum functionality,” Gaye said.

It’s not the ultimate reason she chooses to live and work so far from her family, though.

“I’m driven with a purpose in the way that God called me to be salt and light to this nation and be an extension of His healing hand. Serving God through my profession is a way for me to express that I care for people,” she said.

“I’m not here just to work for the salary or experience, but I’m here to serve the people.”

Kingdom-minded content creator

Friends following Gaye on social media often comment that her life overseas seems like one long vacation. Her energetic videos feature running, cycling and traveling, while only a few posts reference her hospital job. But Gaye ultimately sees social media—her passion project—as a platform to promote a healthy lifestyle, particularly for women, and to point people to Jesus.

“Most of my viewers are 18-26 years old,” she explained. “I want to share my faith and empower people through this area of sports.”

When Gaye moved to the Middle East, she knew she wanted to continue creating content, but she left her gear behind. Through unexpected sources and local sponsors, God provided everything she needed to keep filming her sporting adventures.

Globally, people in the Middle East are some of the most prolific social media users, but  Gaye’s engagement dropped after she left her home country. Whereas her previous videos could garner almost 60,000 views, some of her more recent uploads from the Middle East had less than 2,000. Gaye realized that her subscribers in Southeast Asia looked forward to seeing her take on different challenges there and might have gotten tired of her racing along the same camel-dotted desert roads. Nonetheless, she shows up for her viewers with a smile.

“The purpose of this content is not to be famous but to make Him known,” she said.

Because she switches between her mother tongue and English in her videos, language might be another barrier for viewers from other nationalities. But people don’t need to understand her to recognize the joy she exudes. “Some of my sponsors from China or from Spain say, ‘Even if we cannot understand what you’re saying, we’re enjoying your videos,’” she shared.

That joy is part of modeling Christlikeness to other people, she said: “You need to have joy in whatever you’re doing…even when you are walking home from the hospital. The joy in my heart will also reflect God’s love for other people.”

Take a step

Are you interested in learning more about how God can use your professional skills and personal interests to make a difference in the world? Stay connected and sign up for our Scatter Email.

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Scatter Stories is a monthly series highlighting how God is using everyday people in everyday jobs around the world to make a kingdom impact. 

Written by Erin Schipper

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