Prominent Arab Evangelical leader — former head of the Palestinian Bible Society — dies of a heart attack in Iraq
“God gave Labib Madanat a lease in life and he used it to the fullest,” writes a Jordanian Christian who knew him well, as many Evangelicals around the world mourn Madanat’s shocking passing
When I heard the shocking news of the passing of my dear brother-in-law, friend, and confidant, Labib Madanat I couldn’t forget what happened 17 years ago
I was visiting my in-law Madanat family in al Rabiya when the phone rang, no one was around to pick it up so I did. Labib’s wife Carolyn Gladstone was on the other line and the normally wonderful calm British spouse was anything but calm. Please pray for Labib all she could say. She gave some details about his heart trouble and that he is in a critical situation in a hospital in Jerusalem. I passed the information to the family’s prayer champion Labib’s mother Maha, and she immediately contacted her prayer partners, and a unified call for healing and saving the life of Labib went to the high heavens
The Lord answered and Labib survived, however, he was told that what happened can happen again and that while he had no artery blockage his condition needed to be monitored. He told us later that his problem has something to do with the electricity to the heart and that if it happens again it would be fatal. Doctors did all they could by giving him a pacemaker and then switching him to pills and he followed their guidance. But for me and those around him, we knew in the back of our heads that our beloved Labib is living on borrowed time.
Instead of slouching and feeling self-pity, Labib did the very opposite. He tried to use every new minute of life that the Lord gave him on this earth to do something good to touch someone to help to give advice, to encourage and he never stopped talking about the Lord to whoever he met. Taxi drivers in Jordan, Israeli policewomen at the borders, restaurant waiters, like his father the Late Reverend Odeh Madanat, he always wanted to share the good news with everyone
There are people in the world who work and provide help with different groups not like them but don’t always have a love for those people. This was not Labib. He genuinely open-heartedly loved everyone he came in contact with, Arabs or foreigners, Palestinians or Israelis Iraqi Shites or Sunnis, Amazigh from north Africa, or Kurds in Irbil. Everywhere he went he suggested to people to download for free the Bible in their particular language
Other than his true love for his country, Jordan, Labib had a special passion for Palestine/Israel and for Iraq. The Lord gave him one last chance to touch people in this region. He made the trip to Palestine and met with his friends at the Palestinian Bible Society which he had run for a while and had handpicked Nashat Felmon to continue in that way. He saw his Israeli messianic colleagues for the Israel Bible Society and was instrumental in getting the funding to make an unprecedented translation of the Bible to modern Hebrew. He was proud of the people he contacted, he listened to them and gave them advice including career choices
For me, Labib was not a family member, but a true friend and a confidant. We had coffee days before his final trip to Iraq (he insisted on hard Turkish coffee not the bland American) as I told him of a personal problem he was warm, empathetic, and gave me useful advice. He helped me with everything I needed to launch the website Maghtas.com in Arabic for Christians in Jordan, Palestine, and Israel. A day before his passing a Palestinian Christian writer in Syria who has been facing persecution reached out to me in the cold. I passed it to Labib and he immediately responded making sure that this man’s case is followed up
The whirlwind life of Labib came to a halt about two years ago with the Covid pandemic. He told his family in Amman that the past two years when he was forced to stay home, were the best of his life as he spent precious time with Carolyn and their lovely children, Mathew, Katie, Rami, Jad, and Timmy
Labib was due to make a four-hour stop in Amman, my wife Salam, his sister, was supposed to meet him at the airport before he continued on his way to Britain and then to the US in early December. He will come Thursday but not his spirit, as it is with his Lord
The last time, the Lord gave his family and friends a chance to pray for his life. This time no chance was given. His time was up. The Lord told Labib and all of us that his time is up. For us to remain on this earth, we need to always remember that we are mere sojourners in this world
It is hard and we can’t easily fathom that. We can’t accept that we will be deprived of his smile and his beautiful heart. But his Lord told him, I gave you 17 years and you used them well it is time for others to pick up the baton. We are reminded of the parable of the gifts and feel that this story applies to Labib. As each servant gave an accounting “his master replied, ‘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
Labib Madanat has been faithful to His Master on this earth. We will miss you but we will cherish and celebrate your life and will remember the example you gave us
Most people waste their life. Labib used the time that God gave him and used it to the fullest.
This column was first published by Maghtas.com and is republished by permission of the author.