How Crisis Brought Joyce Sadiku to Christ
By Bridgett Bradley and Bri Stephens
At eight years old, Joyce lost her mother to breast cancer. She also had to deal with gaining a new step-mother and dealing with a father by whom she didn’t feel loved in the same year as she lost her mother. Joyce tells us how these things pushed her towards Christ.
We interviewed Joyce in 2016 and we were recently able to check in with her. Today she is thousands of miles away from home in Antigua at AUA, a Caribbean medical school.
How was your childhood growing up?
I moved a lot when I was younger. I was born in Nigeria, moved to Philadelphia, then Los Angeles, and then to Houston. Looking back, there was always something changing in my life. My mother died from breast cancer when I was 8 and then my dad remarried within a year. I don’t know what was tougher, never seeing my mom again or being forced to love a stranger and call her mom. Because I moved a lot, I was always the “new ugly skinny African girl.” I didn’t always have a lot of friends and I was definitely a prime target for bullying.
How has your relationship with your parents affected you as an adult?
To be quite frank, I never loved my dad growing up. I was always bitter towards him; I never forgave him for different reasons. It wasn’t until last summer that I wholeheartedly forgave him. In retrospect, I understand why I was always talking to the “next guy.” I filled up so many voids because I never felt loved by my dad. Both of my parents—dad & stepmother—have been diagnosed with psychological disorders, which ignited my passion for mental health and influenced my career path. But overall, the relationship I have with my parents has made me become a more forgiving person, helped me love people harder, and ultimately made me appreciate God much more.
When did your walk with Christ truly begin?
Keyword is “truly,” because I’ve said the prayer “I accept Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and savior” probably at least 59 times at every altar call, but my heart didn’t change following that prayer until August 25, 2013. I remember that day, I was in church and I told God I’m not going back to my old ways. I was so in love with Christ. By Christ strength alone – cause baybehhhh it wasn’t easy – I gradually let go of pride, anger, certain friendships, drinking with intent to get drunk, clubbing/partying, secular music, and idolizing boys – my hardest one. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’ve never sinned since then, but when I do, it reminds me how much more I need of Him.
What advice would you give to women who are experiencing similar struggles?
Look at the cross instead of your sin. We get so hung up on trying to fix ourselves when that job is solely for God and for Him alone. When you truly understand that Christ sacrificed His whole life for what YOU did, because He loves you that much, whatever it is that you can’t let go of or you feel like you can’t sacrifice, will NEVER equate to the joy that’s found in Christ. So, try Him, I promise you’ll never be the same. And lastly, even when you feel like you’ve conquered a certain struggle, continue to pray on it, because typically that’s when you’re most susceptible to falling back into it.
What are your current goals and how are you working towards reaching those goals?
My most important goal is to enhance my personal relationship with God and fight stagnancy in my spiritual walk. I’ve been looking for a home church for one & half years now and I think I’ll finally found one that’s perfect for me. I have a busy schedule and making time for God is so important to me so reading my bible, praying, taking a theology course, attending bible study, getting plugged into community, all has helped me learn more about God & has aided my understanding of how much He loves me.
My second goal is to get into medical school and become an MD. I’m currently working full time as a registered nurse, which has driven my passion for medicine because I want to do so much more for my patients. On my off days, I’m currently shadowing a OB/GYN and studying for my MCAT.
One year later, we were able to speak with Joyce and talk to her about her journey so far. How much more important is breast cancer to you today, since the last time we talked?
I still hold it dear to my heart. Last October I participated in the Susan G. Komen 5K Race for the Cure in Houston for the second time.
I'm currently studying medicine and in my genetics, lectures I've learned more about the genes some women carry that can increase their risk of getting breast cancer. I honestly cannot wait to take pathology to gain a more in-depth understanding. I would love the opportunity one day to educate my sisters on the importance of genetic testing early on, especially if it runs in the family.
Are you still working on your relationship with your dad, how are things with you all?
Yes, things are actually improving. For the first time in my life my dad randomly asked me out on a date last year, which was unrelated to my birthday or anything to prompting a celebration. It was definitely interesting, I got to ask him very personal questions and got his perspective on a lot of things. My dad now calls me from time to time to check up on me or sends me an encouraging email. We're not best friends (yet lol), but things are definitely hopeful.
Were you able to get into medical school? Tell us more about that experience and where you are today?
It's so crazy how the last time I was interviewed with Pink Prods was about one and a half years ago, and I would have never guessed I'll be here today.
Long story short, I had received many rejection letters from American medical schools, and I had to decide if I should give up or keep fighting for this undying passion I have. So here I am, thousands of miles away from home in Antigua at AUA, a Caribbean medical school. I'm in my second semester of my first year. I can’t even begin to describe the many challenges I've had to face so far, with the intense course work and being out of comfort zone in a third world country. But, God has truly used this experience to grow me in every way imaginable. I absolutely love learning about medicine and I'm constantly in awe at how God intrinsically designed the human body.
Woah! That is amazing! What are news goals you wish to accomplish?
Due to the current season I am in right now, my relationship with Christ and academics are probably the 2 most important aspects in my life at the moment. I want to be more satisfied with God. I want to be so deeply in love with Him, that I'm completely disgusted with sin. I desire to intentionally work harder to strengthen my relationships with my family and friends (since I'm distant from everybody), which I believe would be an outflow of time spent with my Father, which would also lead me to be bolder to share with others my faith.
Academically, I want to finish medical school well, and get into a psychiatry residency of my choice. If I'm being transparent, I'm currently struggling, but I believe that's what gives God the glory when He shines through our weaknesses. In the future, I want to have my own practice and provide biblical counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy as first line therapy and provide pharmacological treatment if needed to my patients.