A Life Changed by Icons…
Clifford Isaac Gardner
OrthoChristian.com correspondent Vasily Tomachinsky recently travelled to Boston, where he became acquainted with Clifford Isaac Gardner, Senior Administrative Manager of Research in the Division of Nephrology at the Massachusetts General Hospital and member of a number of refugee humanitarian relief missions in the Middle East. Isaac, once a Southern Baptist, is now a parishioner of the Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church in Boston. He tells Vasily about his journey to the Church throughicons.
I met Isaac and Marilyn Gardner met at the Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church in Boston at a lecture on their missions to support refugees suffering from the Middle East conflicts in Iraq and Syria. Afterwards, Isaac and I sat down together in a hipster cafe, where I took this interview. In the first part of our conversation, Isaac told me how he discovered Orthodoxy. —Please tell us about your backgroundand your journey to the Orthodox Church. —My name is Cliff (Isaac in Orthodox Baptism) Gardner, and this is my background. I was raised in a Protestant Southern Baptist family. We were in the military; my father was in the U.S. Air Force. I have four brothers, a family of five boys, and we moved all over the world. We lived most our lives in America and then in Germany, where I was as a teenager. No matter where my parents moved, they always found a Southern Baptist church, including in Puerto Rico, where I was born, and Germany, where our German pastor was Southern Baptist! I grew up in Miami, Florida where my mother was from, so we moved back to Miami after my father retired from the Air Force. Miami is where I went to high school. It was when I was in the high school that I felt called to be a missionary. I wanted to be a Protestant missionary/Bible translator inIndonesia. So I went to a Bible school in Chicago called the Moody Bible Institute—a famous Bible school. I studied Bible-Theology/Greek; it was at Moody where I first started to interact with people from the Muslim world. I was very attracted to working with Muslims. I ended up going to the University of Illinois at Chicago where I studied linguistics, Middle East studies and Arabic. This is how I met my wife Marilyn. She was raised in Pakistan, as her parents were Baptist missionaries for over thirty-five years there. She went to nursing school in Chicago. She was a nurse and I was a linguist, and we met back to back in an Indian restaurant. “I was amazed by the worship, the liturgy, and the icons.” We first moved to Pakistan in 1986 where I taught English to Pakistani government employees. Pakistan was Marilyn’s home