Thursday, June 9, 2011

Siemens C35i

Watching the 2011 French Open men’s tennis final, contested between Rafael Nadal (the eventual victor) and Roger Federer, a Spar (a local South African supermarket chain) advertisement flashed across the television screen, enticing viewers to enter a competition, potentially winning food worth R 24,000.00, or so it seemed.[1]

As the match was about to start, or already in progress (I cannot remember which), I looked out for the next flighting to see if I could ascertain, in view of what I shall share in this article, the competition details and prize(s) on offer.  To the best of my knowledge their advertisement didn’t appear again, perhaps because one had to pick the winner in order to qualify for the prize, so I cannot truthfully state what was on offer—but it reminded me of the only time I have ever responded to a such an advertisement.

It was over ten years ago, in 2001.  Before I can share how I encountered God in the process, perhaps I first need to sketch the background to it all.

At the time I lived with a family in Vanderbijlpark, South Africa, and, on occasion, visited a brother-in-the-Lord who lived about ten to fifteen minutes away from me in the same town.  Because of the circumstances set out below, he and his wife had been scheduled to move from their rented property to Irene (between Johannesburg and Pretoria).[2]

This man had been in an ongoing financial predicament, of his own doing, but didn’t want to acknowledge it or face the facts relating thereto.[3]  Knowing he had to resign his position as a senior IT staff member, at a major listed South African corporation, or facing the prospect of  being dismissed he, for incomprehensible, headstrong reasons of his own, chose the latter.  (He was of the opinion that he had been unfairly dismissed.)  The networking business he had subsequently formed to provide an income also went belly up, resulting in his eventual sequestration.  The bank eventually also foreclosed on their mortgage.  This caused bitter resentment for which he blamed the bank.  Aware of their dire straits a compassionate brother-in-the-Lord provided them with a rent free roof over their heads or at an insignificant monthly rental (I cannot recall which).

Needing to generate an income he had, via an employment agency, contracted as a consultant to the South African Post Office in Pretoria and, since their benefactor’s Vanderbijlpark house was going to be auctioned off in the near future anyway, he thought it would make sense for them to move nearer Pretoria, thus saving time and cash (having temporarily been living nearer his work anyway) rather than having to commute over weekends to see his wife. (All of the aforesaid I became aware of only much later.)

I offered my assistance with packing up their belongings, which they accepted. We had agreed that we should start early one morning, the day prior to the scheduled move, and that he’d fetch me in order for us to get through most of the anticipated workload as soon as possible.

Siemens C10
Needing to contact me without disturbing my landowner and aware that I was “living by faith,” as some would refer to it, i.e. truly depending on God for everything,[4] he felt led of God to give me his old Siemens C10 mobile phone, including a starter pack and some airtime, if I recall correctly, which I graciously accepted on the provision that, if no longer needed, it would be returned to him.  This he accepted. 

So the next two days he’d call when ready, pick me up and I’d assisted them throughout the day packing all their kitchen utensils and other goods in boxes, ready to be carted to their new abode.  (I also, at a later stage, packed up a massive room containing an assortment of unsorted rubbish he wanted to hang on to for inexplicable, really illogical reasons. Personally I would have dumped almost all of it!  It’s amazing how we retain superfluous things in our lives, presuming it to be of value, when the exact opposite is true.  This is especially true spiritually.)

When I handed the phone back to him afterwards he was seriously offended and, in no uncertain terms, violently expressed his anger towards me.  It became apparent something was seriously amiss in this person’s life.  (I later learnt that he has had a lot of grave relational problems throughout his life, not only with his own personal family, but also with his wife, grown children, co-workers and spiritual leaders, etc.  In fact, I discovered he had a sister who wanted nothing whatsoever to do with him.  His wife, who suffered from crippling migraines [demonically induced by him, but whom He had graciously delivered one day when he was not present], had planned to divorce him, his own children stayed away from him to avoid longstanding, ongoing conflicts and feuds. God even allowed me, much later, to divinely meet the personnel officer involved in his dismissal who, of his own volition, informed me that this man had fought with just about every other employee in their organisation and that he had overstated his corporate position and organisational responsibilities to me.  Even the Post Office where he had consulted, by his own astonished admission, gave him a bad report at the conclusion of his contract!)

Wanting to avoid further unpleasantness I retained the phone, for the moment, but, because of what had transpired, no longer wanted to own it and expressed my feelings in this regard to the Lord.

Not long thereafter, on a sunny Saturday morning, on 26 May 2001, I settled in front of the television to watch (I seem to recall) the Super 12 Rugby final between the South African Coastal Sharks and the Australian ACT Brumbies at Canberra Stadium in Australia (which, incidentally, the latter, in case you’re interested in rugby, won by 36-6)

As had been the case at this year’s French Open, sponsors were then trying to create brand/product awareness/interest via a “competition.”

Waiting for kick-off I noticed Vodacom (a local South African mobile phone network provider) offering viewers the opportunity to win a mobile phone in exchange for correcting answering a simple question to which the answer was blatantly obvious.  So, for some unknown reason, almost annoyingly, I got off the couch, walked to the landline and dialled the number provided, following the automatic phone prompts to conclusion and I hung up.  “How dumb can one be,” I thought, not too pleased with my irrational actions.  I was sure everyone wanting a free mobile phone had responded, reducing the winning odds to just about zero, which further irritated me. Such odds indicate serious lack of judgment going against the grain of sound business and other practices.  (I am not one to enter competitions and have not done so prior or subsequent to that day.  In fact, like many others, I usually find such advertising, an intrusive nuisance, interrupting/disrupting normal television viewing. Having been a businessman previously, I believed in generating the necessary income and capital to acquire whatever I needed and/or wanted myself, not via anything remotely resembling random probability.[5])  Given all of the aforesaid, I promptly dismissed the whole affair outright and forgot all about it.

The following Monday morning, around 10-11am the security gate bell sounded.  I noticed a lady from a courier service standing at the gate.  She wanted to know if I was the addressee of the parcel in her hand.  To my astonishment I was.

Without further ado she handed it to me requesting my signature on the appropriate documentation. “You must be mistaken,” I said, “I am not expecting anything, from anyone.”  She insisted.  I asked her if she knew what the package contained.  She didn’t.  I asked her to contact DHL (the couriers) to determine its contents prior to me even considering accepting it.  This surely would quickly resolve the issue for all concerned.  They did not know what it contained either and so, without further options, I accommodated her, accepted the package, signed for it, and headed back into the house to see what my morning’s disturbance was all about.

Siemens C35i
It contained a neatly packaged Siemens C35i mobile phone, with a starter pack, and a R 1000.00 airtime voucher, but no note or any indication whatsoever why it had been sent to me specifically.  I stood there baffled by it all for a minute—and then it dawned on me: God has sent me a new Siemens mobile phone to replace the one I no longer wanted, with airtime to boot—and it had been Him who had moved me to enter, knowing, in advance, how He intended replacing the old Siemens C10 in response to my comment to Him in view of what had transpired earlier.

It was a neat contraption fitting into a compartmentalised shoulder bag I had  previously bought to practically house various items I always carted around with me: two small bibles, a Seven Star pocket diary (also serving as a wallet, which I had bought whilst living in Israel, all of which I still own) and (now) a small mobile phone.  The only problem was that its small receiver stuck out of the pocket housing it, easily being noticed by unscrupulous individuals.  (The Siemens C10 I had been given was bulky, unable to fit into the mobile phone compartment.)

Nokia 8210
Soon thereafter I found a useful home for the Siemens C10. God then also gave me a wonderful little red Nokia 8210, perfectly fitting into the shoulder bag pouch designed for mobile phones, easily hiding it from view.

Around 2003-2004, the couple whom I’d helped move had moved yet again, now living on the East Coast of South Africa where, I later learnt, when yet another business arrangement came unstuck, they did a course at Youth with a Mission (YWAM) at Jeffrey’s Bay.  From there they moved to the original homestead on a farmer’s land in the Winterberg Mountains, a sort distance from Adelaide, hoping to evangelize the area.

At the same time I had moved out of the house where I had lived throughout this period, temporarily staying with a mutual brother-in-the-Lord, awaiting God’s next move or preordained purpose for my life.  As I lay in bed one night, contemplating His ways, I became aware of a map of Africa on the wall facing me.  I dawned on me that I was headed for a spot on that map, but I had no idea where specifically.

One Saturday evening, whilst my brother-in-the Lord was out visiting friends, the phone rang.  On the line was the man whom I had assisted moving.  (The reason for the call, I later learnt, was for prayer for his wife’s migraines!) I haven’t heard from him for a long time and after chatting for a while we said out goodbyes.  Not long thereafter the phone once again rang.  He was back on the line, saying, upon reflection, he really thought the Lord meant for him to speak to me instead. Moreover, that he felt God wanted them to extend an invitation for me to consider coming to stay with them on the farm.

Even though my host disagreed with me, I felt this was from the Lord, and around February 2004 moved to the farm, which they operated, on some mutually agreed upon basis, on behalf of a widow whose husband had recently died.  Apparently the widow’s father-in-law’s testament stipulated that upon the death of either of his two sons, if the deceased son died without a descendant, the deceased’s farm must revert to the remaining son.

My brother-in-the-Lord disagreed with this testamentary arrangement (presumably on either ethical and/or Scriptural grounds, deeming it to discriminatory against the widow), and convinced her, having sought legal council, to take the matter to court on her behalf.  (Although not stipulating so, I know he thought my business experience would assist him throughout this process.  But it soon became evident that he was driving for an outcome he [6] desired rather than having the Lord’s mind on the issues at hand and I became reluctant to “come into agreement” with the couple in prayer on “Scriptural grounds and/or principles” they apparently believed in and practiced)

Prior to the court case I noticed that there were curses in operation against this couple.  They didn’t believe me when this was pointed out to them and so I didn’t pursue the matter.

In the course of time, along with many other things breaking inexplicably or unexpectedly (a sure sign of curses in operation), this man’s mobile phone packed up, leaving him unable to communicate with his wife whenever away from the farm. He noticed my two phones: the Siemens C35i and the subsequent Nokia 8210 God had given me. I have retained both, not having yet decided which one I wanted to keep (the latter being second hand, but I had bought original batteries for both, intending to give one away in proper working order in due course).

Knowing that I trusted God for everything he though he’d “help me out” with “a bit of cash” by purchasing one of the mobile phones from me.  I asked him which one he preferred. You probably guessed it: “The Siemens (C35i),” he said. I handed him the phone and said: “Take it. It’s yours. I don’t want any payment,” and handed him its original box, manual, adapter, cables and two new batteries.

I didn’t share with him how God had given it to me and how he eventually, in His own, wonderful way, restored a later edition mobile phone of the same brand to him—on His terms—without any unpleasantness associated with it.

All of this he will learn when he appears before Him one day: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things [done] in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”[7]

God has since also given me a Samsung E700 and a Nokia 6300, my present phone.  With each one of them I have encountered the living God in astonishing ways. Perhaps I’ll share some of these encounters also one day.

 I’ve learnt many invaluable lessons during each of these encounters, but it falls outside the purposes of this blog to deal with these in articles such as posted here.

Thank God we do not need a phone to converse with Him in a practical, living way.  

Below are images of other mobile phones He had given me throughout the years. It serves, to me at least, as a very vivid example of an ever Present, Living God, intimately involved in our everyday lives—if only we would seek His face and await His solution/response—which is always better than that we could possibly conjure up:

Samsung E700
Nokia 6300

May God richly bless you also as you work out your destiny in Him, providing for all your needs as you do His bidding.

This man not only lost the testamentary court case, it was adjudicated that he had to pay all the defendant’s legal costs as well.

He had, in advance, put rams to the ewes (even the older one’s not able to feed properly, and thus unable to bear and sustain their lambs) to substantially increase the flock in order to dispose with part thereof, in the near future, in order to foot the legal bills, which, as you can imagine, were substantial.

All the other livestock: all the cattle, goats and antelope had to be slaughtered, i.e. pay with their lives for his folly.[8]

Whilst living on the farm, he always deliberately prevented me conversing with his staff—especially the main shepherd, responsible for the flock.  But one day, when out on a course dealing with, of all things, the reconciliation that followed the Rwandan genocide, the shepherd who had looked after flocks all his life (on two or three farms in the area) approached me, seeking my counsel.  He was not only concerned about the wellbeing of the flock under his care, he said he had thought, on occasion, that this man was going to assault him, possibly even killing him. He considered leaving his service and sought my advice. Taking a walk in the valleys he knew so well and which we both loved, I led him to the Lord as his personal Saviour, and told him to do whatever his Shepherd tells him to do.

Soon thereafter this man began having problems with me also.  But God gracefully intervened, removing me to another part of the country in yet another divine encounter.
I haven’t seen or heard from this man or his wife since.

[1] The following are extracted from my personal notes on "Encountering God." It was primarily written for my own edification on hearing God speak to us via an "unfolding of events" scenario as found, amongst others, in the following Scriptural accounts (please, where necessary, refer to the verses preceding or following the indicated textual references): Ge 37:21, 25-28; Ge 37:36; Ge 39:1; Ge 39:20; Ge 41:12; Ge 41:40; Ge 42:2; Ge 43:2; Ex 2:5; Ex 4:14; Mt 2:2; Mt 4:13; Mk 15:13; Mk 16:4; Mk 16:6; Lk 2.1; etc.
[2] Since 1991 when I began following the Lord as a sheep his Shepherd, I have, in one form of another, shared accommodation with others.  In this respect Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, 30 who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.” (Mk 10.29-30)
[3] See the following sampling of textual references: “Have you not brought this on yourself, in that you have forsaken the Lord your God when He led you in the way?” (Je 2.17); “Just as the Lord of hosts determined to do to us, according to our ways and according to our deeds, so He has dealt with us.” (Zec 1.6); “Your ways and your doings have procured these things for you. This is your wickedness, because it is bitter, because it reaches to your heart.” (Je 4.18) and “For You render to each one according to his work.” (Ps 62.12)
[4] I still am. The reasons therefore I will perhaps deal with in another article in future.
[5] The last business venture the author was involved in was during 1989 in which he, in partnership with another business, generated R 1.7 million net profit, off a property transaction, having acquired a 25.0% stake in a shopping centre, bought out of liquidation from a listed property group, which was immediately sold on to other investors. The entire transaction, from commencement to conclusion, took less than three months.
[6] See Jas 3.12-18 in this regard: “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
[7]The New King James Version. 1996, c1982 (electronic ed.) (2 Co 5:10). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[8] See Ex 9.6, 12.29; Le 26.22 & Dt 7.14 & Dt 11.15 (in relation to curses and blessings); etc.  Scripture here indicates that the wellbeing of our animals is directly related to our relationship with Him.