LAHORE, Pakistan – Dr. Tahira Saleem gave up her flourishing medical practice after she realized Pakistan needed a Bible college more than a stethoscope.
Saleem was a leading obstetrician and gynecologist who had a flourishing practice and also worked as a consultant for several private hospitals. She’d grown up with wealthy, talented medical professionals for parents, who were nominal Christians completely absorbed in their careers up until their premature deaths.
She had two brothers, but one day before her lay one dead brother – claimed by a massive heart attack at age 36. Six year later, her only surviving brother, just 30, lay dying before her eyes, gasping for breath after suffering a heart attack. He too breathed his last.
For a flash she thought of the irony of the situation. This was a family of medical practitioners and professionals. Her father was a medical doctor and her mother a nursing sister. And her younger brother was dying before her eyes despite the availability of the best equipment and medicine.
Suddenly she snapped out of her reverie. She cried desperately before all, “Lord, I am a sinner and only you can help us. Have mercy on us.” To everyone’s amazement, her brother, who had lain dead for four whole minutes, came back to life.
Following the miracle witnessed by a large number of the medical community in Pakistan, there was a complete turnaround in the life of Dr. Tahira Saleem.
Walking in Lazarus’ footsteps, her brother shared with her on the third day what had happened to him during the four minutes when he was literally breathless.
“He saw himself going toward heaven at a very high speed, more than the speed of light. Two angels were carrying him, one from each side. The atmosphere was very peaceful and from a distance, he saw the Lord Jesus Christ with a radiant glory on and around his face and surrounded by a bright, indescribable light. Before he could reach the Lord, Jesus said softly, ‘Go back’.”
That was when the dead man came to life.
Saleem and her brother (who had worked in Real Estate before this incident) left the hospital on the ninth day, determined to serve the Lord to the best of their abilities.
“There was a 360 degree change in me and Jesus became the center of my life. I developed a hunger for the word of God and felt a calling in my life to serve Him,” Saleem recalled to The Christian Post. “We started growing in the knowledge of the word of God and received theological teaching, earning M. Div and Doctor of Ministry degrees.”
Saleem cut down her medical practice by at least 50 percent while serving at various Christian events and activities.
After 8 years of fruitful ministry, her brother resumed his interrupted journey and returned to heaven. She was downcast, but even “in those terrible times of grief the Lord was with me and gave me the courage and strength to continue the work.”
Her brother returned to the Lord after they received a vision in 1994 to start a Bible institute for lay people with a calling on their lives. The foundation of the Shekinah Bible Institute in Lahore opened in January 1999.
Her son, Asher Saleem, who had just completed his MBA, walked away from the secular world and joined his mother in full-time ministry at the Shekinah Bible Institute. At that juncture, Saleem gave up her medical practice altogether and gave all of herself to the center. They planted similar institutions in Islamabad and Quetta.
More than 200 students have graduated from the Bible school, with more enrolling every new semester.
“The only medical work I do now is the free medical camps in rural areas where along with medical help we share the love of Jesus through the word of God,” she said, her face beaming with joy.
Saleem has authored four books, one in English titled, Women Arise and Shine, and three in Urdu. She has also translated five books from English to Urdu.