Attorney, family to do mission work in Pakistan

For some, the calling is to help at the homeless shelter, heal the sick or lead the Sunday school lessons. Geoffrey Fogus truly believes his calling as a Christian is to work with Muslims in Asia.

 

He and his wife, Christine, hope to be in Pakistan by the end of January to begin their mission work with the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church's World Witnesses.

"We both have a heart for this type of work," Mr. Fogus said.

For months, those who worked with Mr. Fogus and those who got to know him through his work as an assistant district attorney in Augusta have repeatedly asked Mr. Fogus to change his mind. He's been begged, yelled at and repeatedly reminded of the worsening violence in Pakistan.

Finally, his friends knew they had to give up their arguments.

Mr. Fogus and his wife have a mission to help others and change minds about Christians and Americans. He intends to work in Pakistan with education and in any other way he can be of service, Mr. Fogus said.

"Once you become a friend, everything else fades away," Mr. Fogus said.

He is going to be a different type of advocate, one for faith and good will.

"I want people to see we do care," Mr. Fogus said.

He has been working for many years to reach this point in his calling, he explained.

He and his wife met in Puerto Rico, where they have both gone on separate missions to learn Spanish and help homeless women and children. They married in May 2001.

He later traveled to Thailand and China on mission trips.

The work in China led to several friendships with Muslims, Mr. Fogus said. He said he could see a difference in his perception of them as Muslims and a change in their perceptions of him as an American Christian. He believes that is so important that he wants to continue to forge those relationships.

It was his wife who decided where they would seek to do their mission work, Mr. Fogus said. When she was six months' pregnant with their first child, she traveled to Pakistan and Turkey. Although Turkey is more cosmopolitan and a more comfortable place for a family to live, she chose Pakistan.

She explained, Mr. Fogus said, that in Pakistan they could have a house instead of an apartment and the children would be able to play outside.

"It feels more like a home," he quoted her.

When they can get their visas cleared, the family will move to Sahiwal, Pakistan, where the World Witnesses operate a Christian-based hospital and Western medicine is practiced. There is also a nursing school and a hostel for girls who are orphaned or too poor to seek an education elsewhere, Mr. Fogus said. The programs are within a central site, and his family will live inside the compound.

Mr. Fogus will be an assistant district missionary. He also hopes to teach at the university.

But first he and his wife must attend language school for two years. Mr. Fogus said they need to learn the main language, Urdu, the language spoken by Muslims since 1947, when Pakistan was split from India. They might also need to learn Punjabi and Hindi, he said.

Mr. Fogus is excited about the move. He went to law school at Washburn University in Topeka, Kan., because he thought it would make him more useful and able to teach on mission trips, he said. He and his wife chose a spartan lifestyle so that leaving possessions wouldn't be difficult.

The plan had been to work at the district attorney's office for two years while building support for the mission trip. The two years turned into three.

"I truly loved who I worked with. It was very hard to leave," Mr. Fogus said.

It was difficult to lose him, District Attorney Ashley Wright wrote in an e-mail.

"Geoffrey is, in a word, earnest. He is committed to service, whether that is through his legal work in the office, where he tries to provide relief and a sense of security to those who have been harmed, or through mission work, where he tries to spread the message of God's higher law, urging others to accept and abide by it," she wrote.

Superior Court Judge James G. Blanchard Jr. also hated to lose Mr. Fogus, who prosecuted cases assigned to Judge Blanchard.

"I found him to be a remarkable young man."

He joked that Mr. Fogus, barely out of law school, was thrown into a meat grinder.

He found himself trying cases against some of the area's most experienced and successful defense attorneys.

Mr. Fogus tried several dozen cases, and he developed and honed his skills with each one, Judge Blanchard said.

"He never wanted any credit. If I complimented him, he would always shrug it off with a 'I'm just doing my job.' "

Augusta attorney Tanya Jeffords squared off against Mr. Fogus numerous times.

"He's tough but honest," she said.

He was always a faithful advocate and wouldn't budge in negotiations if he believed he was right, Ms. Jeffords said.

Mr. Fogus said he never thought he would work as a prosecutor because he doesn't like conflict. But the work taught him to deal with conflict and pressure while maintaining a civil and professional manner.

Most of the time, people will judge you and your work not by your techniques but by how you conduct yourself, he said.

"You hope a little kindness and love will change a lot of things," Mr. Fogus said. "The reality is there is danger everywhere, no matter where you live. But I believe good consumes evil."

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.

GEOFFREY FOGUS

AGE: 35

FAMILY: Wife, Christine, and sons Jonathan Knox, 21/2, and David Calvin, 9 months

WORK: Former assistant district attorney in Augusta. Intended new job, assistant district missionary for World Witnesses in Pakistan

WORDS TO LIVE BY: Micah 6:8 "... to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God."