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Umanos Desired to Be ‘Hands and Feet of Christ’

By Stan Friedman

CHICAGO, IL (April 25, 2014) – The widow of Dr. Jerry Umanos, a Covenant pediatrician who was one of three Americans slain by a member of the Afghan security force in Kabul on Thursday, said she and her family “don’t hold any ill will toward Afghanistan in general or even the gunman who did this. We don’t know what his history is.”

In a televised statement, Jan Schuitema said, “Jerry always wanted to serve underserved populations. Afghanistan was just one of them. He always had a desire to be the hands and feet of Christ. He was always a light for Christ, and he had a love and commitment that he expressed for the Afghan people because of that love for Christ.”

Schuitema added, “We would really like for all of our friends and family and anybody else to please honor Jerry’s memory by opening up your heart to the Afghan people as well as any other populations around the world that need to see Christ’s love.

Umanos grew up attending the Evangelical Covenant Church of Detroit (now Faith Covenant Church in Farmington Hills). “All he wanted to do was help people,” said Dave Westerfield, art director for the Covenant Companion and one of Umanos’s closest friends since childhood.

The families were yearly attenders at the Covenant’s Portage Lake Bible Camp in Onekama, Michigan, where they also volunteered.

Umanos had worked for more than 25 years at the Lawndale Christian Health Center, which is located in Chicago’s inner city. He and his wife moved to Afghanistan to serve the people there. He worked at a community health center and the CURE International Hospital, where he trained local doctors.

The couple returned to live in Chicago but he spent much of each year in Afghanistan. “He basically came back here for a few months each year, to make enough money so he could go back,” said Art Jones, his colleague at the Lawndale facility.

The gunman shot himself, and was operated on at the Cure International hospital by Umanos’s colleagues and then transferred to another Kabul hospital, where he is in custody. The motive for the attack, which killed two other Americans, is unknown.

For a previous Covenant News Service story, click here.

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