Dr. Christian's Ohio Struggle
"If I knew you were coming I'd have baked a cake!" he joked with the 30-plus heavily armed agents raiding his office. They had cordoned off his office with their squad cars. The conducted a painstaking search, ripping out computers, photographing everything, seizing charts, phones, cameras and anything they could carry off. Knowing their trigger-happy tendencies suspects of colour, Dr. Christian kept his back to wall and his hands visible at all times. When the officer proceeded with his intimate frisking, Dr. Christian quipped, "If you keep that up, we'll have to get married!"
How did this all begin anyway? Young people were falling as flies from drug overdoses in Ohio. Professionals paid lots of lip service but did little. As a general surgeon, Dr. Christian was only drawn into treating drug abuse victims when approached by his older son Kwame's white high school classmate. While Kwame had advanced to law school at the Ohio State University, that young man was working in a factory and had a baby on the way. His drug addiction cost him his apartment and his car. He came to beg the doctor for help when he was about to sell his bicycle to buy one last fix. Having watched these children grow up, Dr. Christian had compassion and felt compelled to act. He organized drug awareness seminars in the community and on radio. Everything was done publicly. He promoted those successful in overcoming addiction through his Joshua Program which combined medication with a unique blend of faith & family support groups.
In those days, the 'Birther Movement' was at its height. They bitterly opposed any of President Obama's policies based on the belief that he was foreign-born and Muslim. Things took a turn for the worse when Dr. Christian led a demonstration from Bowling Green University to the Congressional offices of the Hon. Bob Latta, (R. Ohio). He delivered a fiery speech in front an Ohio flag (above) in a mall parking lot across the street in which advocated better healthcare for the poor.
By that time, Dr. Christian had received a Federal permit in quick time to treat addicts. The Ohio Board of Pharmacy, however, had withheld for two years the granting of a permit to treat, for which the doctor had properly applied and paid for twice. Every time he inquired, they would put him off with a variety of crude techniques such as keeping him on hold indefinitely or saying that the responsible official was not available. Nevertheless, soon after the Affordable Care demonstration, local prosecutors collaborated with State Board of Pharmacy agents to concoct charges of 'aggravated drug trafficking' carrying a 30-year prison term!
The doctor was arrested by many of the same drug enforcement official he constantly consulted for guidance. Of note, the Drug Enforcement Agency had no interest in supposedly such a big case. They had used undercover patients bugged with wires in an effort to entrap him. 26 lawyers working for the prosecution tried intimidating patients to testify against their treating physician. The doctor was jailed overnight during which time he read the Book of Daniel three times. By morning, the prisoners, most of whom were poor and illiterate, were flocking to him for counseling.
Dr. Christian was subsequently held almost a year with an electronic bracelet under strict house arrest and unable to earn an income. His family was subjected to tremendous stress. While doctor was always there to support troubled physicians, based on the news reports many professional colleagues, as well as friends, abandoned them in their time of need. Despite his wife June's severe new medical challenges, the family never lost faith that all things would work to good in the end. They were sent to collection for inability to pay medical bills and his younger son Kobie had to temporarily drop out of college.
During confinement, Dr. Christian suffered a blood clot (DVT) and requested permission for emergency treatment. Getting no response and knowing the seriousness, he went away. This prompted prosecutors to issue a written threat to jail him again for violating his restrictions. On that day, the doctor wrote in his diary, "It is now evident that we wrestle not against flesh and blood..." (Eph. 6:12)
During that time Dr. Sam studied the lives of great faith warriors. He was especially moved by the testimony of missionary Fr. Damien of Molakai who ministered to the lepers and Rev. Dietrich Bonhoffer who resisted the plague of Nazism. Both men had sacrificed their lives for causes they strongly believed in. Thus inspired, the doctor continued his radio programs recorded from home. Click here to listen
Dr. Christian's defense team was led by his brother Gabriel, American Bar Association treasurer Ed Leyden and law student Kwame. Gabriel was absolutely determined not to let his brother fester in an American jail while there was so much good left for him to do. A vigorous defense that exposed potential official misconduct and rejected any and all inducements at plea bargaining. At the end, the State was offering no prison time, and 6 months of community service and 2 years probation. But doctor was determined to have his day in court. In a letter to prosecutors, he made it clear that come what may, he was "fully prepared to spend every last day of those 30 years" rather that confess to any crime he did not commit.
Many churches were praying for his deliverance. Friends in the courts leaked that prosecutors were quite worried that credible patients would testify effectively on the doctor's behalf - particularly the nuns at the Tiffin's St. Francis Convent. A major break in the case came when Kwame discovered that the star witness hired by the prosecution for $30,000 was once a drug-addicted, impaired physician seeking official redemption. That doctor, upon whose 'expert testimony' the case was built, was suddenly struck down by his disease. No reputable physician was willing to take his place.
At the last moment, prosecutors unconditionally dropped all charges, promising to reopen the case within six months. All their undercover efforts failed to result in conviction, though they did succeed in tarnishing his reputation and depleting his resources. To this day, Dr. Christian remains innocent of any crime. The video testimony of a patient who committed suicide rather than testifying against his doctor also when a long way in sinking the prosecution's case. Dr. Christian believes in the motto, "Any good that I can do, let me do it now." On Dominica News Online and on radio, he admitted that his only regret is that he was not able to save more lives. Furthermore, he vowed that he would do it again in a heartbeat if given the same opportunity.
The doctor never ceases to gave thanks and praise for the victory. The good people of Ohio and the United States prevailed over the renegade officials. Dr. Christian sees this prisoner of conscience experience as an adventure that exposed the true nature of evil. He feels that it all worked perfectly by catapulting him back to the land of his birth, strengthened to complete his life's mission.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord,
"Plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
Plans to give you hope and a future."
Luke 29:11 (NIV)
'We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice,
we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.'
Rev. Dietrich Bonhoffer, Letters and Papers form Prison