Dr. Ethel J. Aijian—a woman who greatly influenced me

Philippians 4:8-9 (J.B. Phillips New Testament)

Here is a last piece of advice.
If you believe in goodness and if you value the approval of God,
fix your minds on the things which are holy and right
and pure and beautiful and good.
Model your conduct on what you have learned from me,
on what I have told you and shown you,
and you will find the God of peace will be with you.

Children are like soft clay. They can easily be channeled toward what’s good and wholesome—or what’s bad and harmful.

Dr. Ethel J. Aijian

God has strategically arranged for some exceptional people to intersect my path throughout my life. They have selflessly modeled putting others’ needs above their own. Dr. Ethel J. Aijian was one of those remarkable people. She embodied the love of Jesus Christ as I grew up in southern California. Mrs. Aijian, as I always referred to her, was a pediatrician. She earned her medical degree from USC School of Medicine and worked tirelessly to help children afflicted with chronic and debilitating cystic fibrosis. She later married another medical doctor and chose as her full-time profession to be the mother of their five children. It’s safe to say she never looked back.

Through Dr. Ethel Aijian’s relationship with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, she arranged to take kids from our church to visit critically ill patients. I was quite young, in 3rd or 4th grade, and had never been to any hospital for a visit. Children’s Hospital is unique among hospitals—exclusively committed to helping children. Mrs. Aijian instructed each of us to bring a wrapped gift for the patients and reminded us to walk quietly through the hallways. It was heartrending to see so many children confined to beds or wheelchairs. What spoke volumes to my pliable heart and mind was watching sad expressions on faces of young patients give way to smiles when we entered their rooms and presented our gifts. An experience indelibly imprinted in my memory. 

At such an impressionable age, that encounter with seriously ill children was a catalyst God used to begin instilling in me . . .

compassion for others less fortunate than myself,
gratefulness for my health, home, and church . . . and
thankfulness for Mrs. Aijian and her intuitive plan
to provide young children with a life-changing opportunity
to see beyond their own sheltered circle
and become aware of others less fortunate.

The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 2:3 (Living Bible)

Don’t be selfish;
don’t live to make a good impression on others.
Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself.

Matthew 5:34-36 (Good News Translation)

Then the King will say to the people on his right,
‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father!
Come and possess the kingdom which has been prepared for you
ever since the creation of the world.
I was hungry and you fed me,
thirsty and you gave me a drink;
I was a stranger and you received me in your homes,
naked and you clothed me;
I was sick and you took care of me,
in prison and you visited me.’