Is it possible to be blindsided by God?
I believe so.
My life had been chaotic for a number of years before I realised there was another way out, but it took a chance encounter with a man from Portsmouth for this to happen.
Birmingham in the mid-90s was not an attractive place, stuck in a concrete clad limbo this grey metropolis was not a pretty sight on the sunniest of days. I’d spent nearly my entire life in the city and yet I’d never developed much affinity with the place. My parents had come from outside the city for work, they had only stayed because they were worried that they would not be able to find jobs elsewhere. For the entirety of my childhood I was reminded about the sacrifice that my parents had to make in order for me to eat and have an education, but when I left home at the age of 18 I couldn’t think of anywhere else to go.
After spending years saving I bought my first piece of property back in 1982. Properties in the city centre were cheap at this time and soon one property became many. Before I knew it I had become the proud owner of a veritable property empire, those years were rewarding but also challenging as I was soon to discover that keeping so many balls in the air was certainly no easy task! As busy as I was, it didn’t stop me from buying more property. Within the year I’d doubled by portfolio and had found myself well and truly out of my depth.
By the mid-00s my business had stepped up a notch even further. The investments I’d made in city centre property in the 80s had paid off and now the city was making a turn around the buildings I’d bought were very much in demand. Dozens of start-ups chasing the ever elusive tech bubble were looking for events for networking in Birmingham and I was the man who held the keys to it. It was this turn in my fortunes that led to me meeting Jeffrey Towne, a business owner and Baptist from Portsmouth who was interested in investing in the city.
Jeffrey was primarily in Birmingham to attend the Christian Conference, an annual meeting of Christians from all doctrines and denominations, but he also had an eye for a deal and had spotted a ‘To Let’ sign on one of my buildings. After taking his call I met him in the centre to show him around the building, a 3-storey Victorian building that had the makings of a good-sized office. Jeffrey didn’t come across ‘religious’ in any way, it had been so long since I’d talked to anyone of faith that I’d built up an impression in my mind of the overzealous door knocker and had not realised that there were like minded businessmen who also held a faith.
Jeffrey didn’t buy any property in the end, but he did tempt me into going to the Conference with him. It was at that conference that I met my future wife and the rest, as they say, is history. I’ve since been baptised and now live in Portsmouth where I still meet up with Jeffrey for the occasional chat.