Almost everyone has something about themselves that they just don’t like or want to improve on. It could be as simple as the curliness of one’s hair to something virtually impossible to change like an individual’s skin color.
For restauranteur Gibran Baydoun it was his vitiligo, a skin disorder that causes blotches of skin with no color to appear. The condition effects roughly a quarter million people across the United States and Baydoun happens to be one of them.
To him, suffering from vitiligo has been a true test. When he first spotted a small white dot below his lip back in 2013, he told Faithwire in an interview that, he had no idea what it was or where it came from.
So to find the answer, he began googling the phrase: “white spot on face” and looked through thousands of results. And after hours of searching, he saw a countless number of photographs of people with the skin disorder and online support groups. But instead of the descriptions and pages of information making him feel better, he actually felt frustrated and left with many questions. Even asking God, “Why me?”
But before he spiraled to far out of control with self-pity and worry, he went to a doctor to get an official diagnosis. To Baydoun’s dismay, the doctor confirmed that it was vitiligo and that there is no cure for it.
And to the young man, the news only got worst as the doctor told him, “It might grow and it might spread.” As of now it has, to his chin and neck.
At first when he started to notice the spread of the skin condition, he tried to find cures, creams and doctors with solutions to stop it, even though he knew that was virtually impossible. After that didn’t work, he spent money and time on make-up so he could cover it up.
But Baydoun got tired of trying to do that. So one day he decided to give that all up and just to celebrate himself and embrace this challenge. Explaining to Faithwire that this condition has actually enhanced his confidence, self-esteem and his relationship with Christ. A devotion that actually helped him lead his mom roughly 30 years ago to Christ.
“My mom always says that she became a Christian because of me. When I was a baby we moved from California to Vegas, I was looking off into the distance … and she said, ‘Gibran, Gibran, Gibran’ and I was unresponsive and then I said, ‘I am talking to God.'”
It was that very moment, he says, that “she decided she was going to start looking for a church.” And since that time, both his mother and Baydoun have considered his childhood church their second home. He even described setbacks that they faced while he was growing up, like one particular Wednesday night Bible Study that “I needed glasses (and) our washer and dryer broke and we were behind on a bill. We both prayed about it individually and we got back in the car and we were stopping at a drive thru before we went home to get something to eat. She reached in her purse, and in her purse was an envelope filled with cash, the exact cash that payed for all three of those things. Nobody was told anything but someone in the church knew we needed help some how and put it in her purse.”
To this day, this story is part of Baydoun’s personal testimony and his decision to look for God’s grace as an adult, but it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. “When I went to college and started my career I fell away from God, I put (him) on the back burner (so I could) do me. My attitude at the time was, I am going to enjoy life and be hungry for my career but I don’t really have time to have a relationship with Christ, God or the Church.”
Baydoun’s decision to do so had some consequences. He openly admitted that, “I suffered some severe career setbacks and life setbacks and it was one day at my lowest, I had moved back to (New York City) and I literally googled church NYC Sunday night. Who has a church service Sunday night? and the first thing that popped up was Hillsong.”
“I walked in, I can remember that sermon like it was yesterday and it was that night that and I never missed a Sunday after that. It became a refuge for Baydoun because “Hillsong is a church that takes you for (who) you are.” It was also a place where the young man could let go of his insecurities that haunted him like his vitiligo. To him, the church, the congregation and the pastor offered him guidance about how to view himself.
Now he admits that, “I still look in the mirror and don’t feel beautiful” sometimes. And “I still notice when children are walking by and stare at me to the point that they ask mommy ‘what is it on his face?’” But “now…I consider (it) to be a ‘gift'” and a blessing in disguise.
“This weakness is my strength. This is my strongest asset. Meaning, no one can forget my face.” Now, he’s seeing this skin condition not as a curse, but as exactly the thing God had intended for him and his life story.
“This has been the medicine I’ve needed to become the man that I am today and that to me has been a powerful experience.”
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