“I started to read the Baha’i scriptures in 1995 when my friend Ashkan lent them to me. But it was in 1997 that I made a spiritual decision. It was 1997 because it was that year that I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. And, once again, my dear friend Ashkan came to me and told me that I was going to get healed, but not a physical healing but a spiritual healing by God. He told me, God will help you to make the best decision—he will tell you whether to go under surgery or not, or to go to the doctor or not. He’s just not going to take the tumor away. He doesn’t work like that. Other people from other religions started to tell me ‘We are praying for you so that God will take the tumor away and if you believe in that it will go away. But it doesn’t really work like that. It is there that the principle of the coexistence of religion and science comes into play. That is when God indirectly told me that science could cure me. And through prayer and through communication with God and faith, is I have found the strength to deal with this disease that I still have. The miracle that God gave me wasn’t necessarily to take the tumor away but what he did was to make the tumor a benign tumor. I still have it and it’s still growing but it’s benign. This situation made me a better doctor because when you are ill you are better able to understand your patients. It was then that I spiritually became a Baha’i … “

I met Dr. Israel Cedeño at the breathtaking and serene Baha’i Temple overlooking the entire city and surrounding hills of Panama City, Panama. A very humble man with a kind soul, he proceeded to tell me that his conversion to the Baha’i faith happened on the same day he was diagnosed with a growing but benign brain tumor. I admire deeply his choice to see the world through spiritual eyes, to see the growth and learning in every situation. Israel is committed to a faith journey that lives alongside and with science. And yet, he is a man who believes in God and that not all situations can be explained or understood. This is the faith journey I can relate to and I pray to have a faith as strong as his.