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I Am Thankful to God for Saving Me from the War

Iyad did not know when he walked out of his door each day in Syria if that day would be his last. As a Christian living in Aleppo, Syria, studying medicine, Iyad Arusi faced the daily threat of rockets or attacks. Despite the chaos and fear in his surrounding environment, his internal mission of loving others like Jesus remained consistent. Seeking refuge in North America, he would eventually end up at Regent University, combining his psychiatric, medical and business knowledge to continue aiding the world with God’s healing love.


The Syrian Civil War began around 2012 due to discontent with the current government. Such protests turned into war with the introduction of more violent efforts, such as airstrikes and ground operations. Iyad recalled growing up in Syria as a Christian family and not experiencing tension about his faith-affiliation until the war. He completed his undergraduate studies in a smaller city where both Christians and Muslims lived, then moved to Aleppo, a larger city, for medical school.

“While in medical school, the war began in Syria, and it was escalating day by day. I think I was in the middle of my program. So, I had three years to go.”

Iyad faced a hard decision. He could either leave the country as a refugee or stay to complete his medical school degree. He believes God gave him the power and grace to complete his degree and remain in Syria for three more years.

Despite the daily challenges, Iyad recounts that that season of life changed him, and God used him. He worked in the hospital during those years, where he would help treat all kinds of patients, Christians and Muslims alike. Outside the walls of the hospital, these two demographics should fear one another. However, Iyad treated them all with the same care to the best of his ability, no matter who they were. It was hard to watch people suffer, but his confidence in God’s healing power was unwavering, and he watched many patients recover and witnessed many healing miracles.

Sometimes, the suffering and pain continued in a patient, though, and Iyad learned to use his psychiatric skills to counsel and share the love of Jesus.

When Iyad graduated from medical school with his M.D. degree, he was accepted into an internal medicine residency program. However, he knew it was unsafe to remain in Syria, and he needed to leave. When the Canadian government began accepting Syrian refugees, he had the opportunity to move to Canada through a church sponsorship.

“It was not easy during the war. But I am thankful to God for saving me from the war.”

Iyad recounted having lost so many friends during those years because attacks were frequent and seemingly random. He knows God protected him and his family, as they all were able to leave the country.


In Canada, Iyad had the opportunity to flip the narrative of his life. Having left a place with the daily threat of death, he decided to focus on research about bringing life to the world. Iyad and fellow researchers began to study rare pregnancy illnesses that were leading women to choose abortion. Many of their patients did not even know they had certain pregnancy-related diseases. Their philosophy in performing such research would be to discover possible medicines and treatments to better detect and treat such illnesses, so abortion would not seem to be the “only” option, and they could save the lives of countless mothers and babies.

Iyad also continued to work clinically as a physician’s assistant. Again, he got to treat all different kinds of patients from all different backgrounds. If he was not able to pray with them out loud, he made a point to pray for the patients in his heart, for he knew that Jesus was the perfect healer.


His sister, Hadil, was sharing with Iyad her positive experience at Regent University’s School of Law and how much the school and its professors helped her in her career. Regent also made the process incredibly easy for her as an international student, especially after facing rejection from others as a Syrian refugee seeking scholarships and her visa. So, Iyad sought out Regent University.

He decided to pivot his educational background to learn about the business industry through Regent’s MBA program. Iyad recalled his interview with the dean of the School of Business and Leadership, Doris Gomez, who encouraged him despite his hesitations about entering an entirely new field of study. The MBA program unlocked new innovations within him to connect the world of medicine and psychiatry with business. When Iyad began his MBA, Dean Gomez helped Iyad start a student organization that taught students more about the role of medicine and technology in the business industry. He is also a key member of the MBA Association on campus.

Iyad credits Regent as the key part of his life where he experienced spiritual growth and expanded his borders. Regent had uniquely integrated faith and Scripture into the business concepts he was learning. Beyond the classroom, he walked away from his Regent experience spiritually encouraged through colleagues and various chapel services.

“Professors would begin classes with prayer. I have never experienced this before. This was something added to my faith journey—that you can start your morning with prayer and start your schoolwork with prayer.”

After graduating from the MBA program, he was hired as Regent’s Counseling Ministries department’s manager. Not only did this opportunity allow him to stay in the United States, but it has also become a direct application of his MBA skills while also utilizing his medical background. His MBA was critical in gaining powerful people-management tools to lead well and transformed him into a well-rounded community member, influencing groups wherever he went through his powerful story and impressive background. From the war-torn streets of Syria to the classrooms of Regent University, Iyad’s life is a testimony of God’s protection and divine plans. One theme remains consistent in all of the chapters of his life—no matter where the Lord has Iyad, he has given God his “yes” to being the hands and feet of Christ’s love, even in the face of adversity. In a world so divided against one another, Iyad connects people through love and his new skills.

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