Michael Isaac—Bydgoszcz, Poland
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“Michael Isaac—Bydgoszcz, Poland,” Ensign, October 2018

Portraits of Faith

Michael Isaac—Bydgoszcz, Poland

“Sickness can do a lot of good things,” says Michael, who is suffering from kidney failure. Because his illness has increased his gratitude for the gospel, he says, “it is a good trial.”

Leslie Nilsson, photographer

Poland: Men

I was born in Ethiopia in 1942 and went to Poland to study in 1965. In 1991, I met the missionaries and joined the Church. I have served as a branch president for three and a half years. I served as a counselor in the mission presidency for 12 years. I was a branch president again and then a district president. Then I became sick with kidney failure.

Now I can do only a few things in the Church. I try to attend on Sundays.

At first I was angry.

“Why me?” I prayed. “I have served you, Lord.” After a while, I understood. The scriptures say, “He that hath faith in me to be healed, and is not appointed unto death, shall be healed” (D&C 42:48).

This verse says we will be healed if we’re not meant to die.

Church members keep praying for me, but my health is getting worse. They think their prayers are not heard, but they are heard because they become better people and because I feel the love they show to me.

Even if I was healthy, how much time would be left at my age? Still, a lot is before me.

I like to go to the scriptures and find heroes who help me. When I was healthy and serving, I liked to follow Nephi, but now many times I think of Job. He was a good man, and he suffered too. There is always hope in the gospel.

In a city like Bydgoszcz, if I want to visit the mayor, I’ll not have a chance because I am too small for that. But through the gospel, the door is always open to call on God. That is why I love my church.

I have the Church. I have a way of contacting God through prayer, through fasting, through all the things we do. What else do I need?

Sometimes I say to myself, “Maybe that’s why I am sick—so that I could understand what a great thing I am in, what a great cause this is.”

I see my wife, Renata, become sad because I am sick. I wouldn’t like that to happen, but sorrow is a by-product of love. If she didn’t love, she wouldn’t be sorry. Love helps you feel that you are not alone and that there are people who care.

To die is nothing. Everybody will die. It depends on how we approach death. I know that God lives. He loves us all—me too. That’s what I can say.

Poland: Couples

Michael’s illness has been a difficult trial for his wife, Renata. “I see my wife become sad because I am sick,” he says. “But sorrow is a by-product of love. Love helps you feel that you are not alone and that there are people who care.”

Poland: Church Attendance

Despite the limitations caused by his illness, Michael still finds ways to serve and uplift those around him.

Poland: Church Attendance

Michael finds hope and direction in the scriptures. When he was healthy and serving, he admired Nephi. “But now many times I think of Job,” he says. “He was a good man, and he suffered too.”