Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

It always used to amaze me that you could stand in the middle of a field talking on a mobile phone to someone in New Zealand.

Of course, now that I am in New Zealand, I no longer need a mobile phone to speak to people here.

And here's the thing – everyone in New Zealand has bought a mobile phone now…with which to talk to each other.


When I touched-down in Auckland last summer (sorry) winter, my plan for that first month was simple:

1. Get a flat. (failed)

2. Get a job. (failed)

3. Get a Work Permit (prior to point 2) (failed)

4. Get a mobile phone.

For some reason, I never quite got around to...what? Oh all right then.

4. Get a mobile phone. (failed)

For some reason, I never quite got around to that last one. In fact, as the days became months, I consciously moved further away from this plan, and towards what most of us would label as madness.

I decided that I wasn't going to buy a phone, I was going to get given one. For free. And not only that, but I was going to get given a mobile phone for free by none other than God. I'm the Queen of Spain by the way.

Yes, I could have just bought one, but the only circumstances under which I would do that were if God had first provided the job, which of course required Him to first provide the Work Permit. Which of course, required the offer of a job. And here's where my resolve to wait on God collapsed. To get the job offer, I was definitely not going to just hang around waiting for the phone to ring.

Late November 2004, and new contact (therefore potential employer) Mr Phil Guyan was paying for a getting-to-know-you snack at the Greenlane McCafe...

"What's your mobile number?" he reasonably enquired.

Oh yes, this was a good first impression to be making. Mr Guyan ran a Christian radio production company, and this meeting, to a certain extent, inevitably involved at least a small degree of sizing each other up. Of course, the likelihood of my being any use whatsoever without a permanent address, a Work Permit, a mobile phone or even any sort of a concrete plan as to how I would get any of these things, rather made me feel as though today was all about getting a free sandwich, albeit at the expense of a much larger cab fare.

Anyway, right now my potential employer was waiting to write down my non-existent mobile number. Let's see – what would Jesus do? Oh yes that's right – he'd shun common sense, exercise His faith, and come out with something utterly ludicrous. How did I wind up following this guy again?

"Err, well..." I stuttered in answer to this friend of a friend who I had only really known for about an hour, "I haven't quite got one of those yet. I was going to buy one, but then, well, then I sort of thought that I'd wait for God to provide one on faith. You know, he keeps providing me with free accommodation at the backpackers and... err... free..." ... I looked down at the sandwich he'd bought me, "... food, and stuff, so I, err, thought I'd wait for Him to provide me with a free mobile too."

Mr Guyan's face, true to his radio background, gave nothing away.

"Hmmm," he considered, or more likely to my mind stalled, before eventually conceding "I want to see if we can get you … a laptop."


Here was I only daring to believe that God could provide me with a mere phone, while this guy was way ahead of me and foreseeing the divine provision of an entire audio-software-enabled computer!

A few weeks later however, and in keeping with God's generally perceived track-record, neither a laptop nor a mobile phone had fallen from the sky, floated past in a basket, been left outside my door with an anonymous note attached, or any of the other clichéd ways in which I wanted to see God provide these things. This became abundantly clear when Phil Guyan actually did find a little voluntary work for me to do, but couldn't contact me in time as I was away camping and I had no mobile.

Well, so much for that contact. I could just imagine Phil calling my mobile now, and hearing the polite recorded message "The person you are calling does not have a mobile. Please try again later. Say, after we've all been around the sun a few more times."

Months passed.
Then, on 3rd March this year, Nadia at the hostel gave me her SIM card before leaving NZ, and shortly afterwards I found another one on the Free Food Shelf, and yet a third one on the pavement in Queen Street. Still no actual phone to go with it though.

More months passed.

Then Sam offered to buy me a phone, and I actually turned him down. "God will provide one, for free," I declared.

And yet He didn't. I wanted to text-message God and ask him why, however I couldn't, partly because I didn't have a mobile phone, but mainly because, despite all of His sovereign power, He actually didn't have one either.

Hence the phrase "Thou shalt not text The LORD thy God."


Then in May I had a breakthrough. Mr Hippy told me he'd now got himself a new mobile, and would I like to take over his old telescopic-aerialed brick?

Hmmm, just two problems with that.

Firstly, it appeared to have been designed for olympic shot-putters who wanted to stay in practice.

Secondly, and this was a big one, it only worked when it was plugged in.

As mobility is a pretty essential quality in any mobile phone, this was going to cost me alot in extension leads.

So, mobile it was. By about 8 feet. I did experiment with taking it about with me and plugging it into the mains wherever I was, however since its densely-packed molecules had begun to exert their own gravitational pull, this occasionally caused some embarrassment.

"Thanks for the use of your mains Mrs Goggins, sorry again for removing your boiler there."

Then, in mid-May, I discovered Mr Hippy's brick's third minor drawback… and once again it was heralded by a call from the by now very long-suffering Phil Guyan, inexplicably offering me yet more work.

Undeterred by my previous track-record of telephonic poverty, this time Phil called me on my new Korean landlord's cordless landline. Unfortunately, said cordless landline was so quiet that I had to wonder if it was sneakily connected to someone else’s base-unit across the road. The irony here of course was that, despite being on a private landline, I was now yelling like I was in public on a mobile.


Perhaps missing the universal uniqueness of his request, Phil actually suggested that he call me again on the mobile… for a clearer line.

Thus I put the landline down, picked-up my coffee and, aided by the force of gravity, bounded down the corridor towards the room where my ringing mobile was helplessly clinging to the mains.

Phil outlined the job to me. It was extraordinary – right up my street. It was helping with his radio series of modern Christian parables - work I was experienced at, had a passion for, and that I believed in. I was exactly qualified. Not only that, but the phone call really had come out of the blue - proving that this was God's doing, not mine. However the icing on the cake was what Phil said next:

"I understand that you have an aversion to money, however we would like to pay you for this."

I explained that I was simply a law-abiding citizen, and would need a Work Permit to enable him to pay me.

Unfortunately at that moment the line went dead.

Incredulously I stabbed at the buttons, but it was no good. Despite having apparently been built from the heavy-matter found at the centre of a collapsed star, Mr Hippy's brick had suddenly crumbled on me, and even trying the infallible trick of turning-it-off-and-on-again wasn't working. (they even do that with heart patients y'know)

But wait, back down the other end of the corridor, I could make out the quietest cordless phone in the world ringing again.

So grabbing my coffee once more, I heaved myself out of the antique Motorola's gravity-well and staggered back to have the third part of our conversation, which I sincerely hoped would not concern my communication skills.

It was only when this shambolic travesty of modern communication was finally over, that I remembered what Greg had prayed for me in church the previous Sunday (15th May) – that there would be a breakthrough this week in God's purpose for me. I even wrote it on my blog for that day.

Anyway, after an interview and a myriad of phone-calls and emails between Phil, myself, an immigration agency and the New Zealand Immigration Service, the Permit application got underway.

Having to leave the Koreans' house, I moved into a flat, where my new cockney flatmate Neil punctually decided to treat himself to a new mobile, and bequeathed his old one to me.
At last, I could now play Reversi at the bus stop like everyone else.

Then today, after almost a year, I finally received the necessary papers to work in New Zealand!

Too bad that today is also the day on which I must return home to England.
So here I am back at Auckland Airport after almost a year, with the flat, the job, the Work Permit and the mobile phone, all successfully provided by God. And what am I doing with them? That's right – I'm giving them all up again.

The first handful of dough that is offered is holy. This makes all of the dough holy.
If the root is holy, so are the branches.

- Romans 11:16 (NIRV)

"Bring the entire tenth to the storerooms in my temple. Then there will be plenty of food. Put me to the test," says the Lord. "Then you will see that I will throw open the windows of heaven. I will pour out so many blessings that you will not have enough room for them.

- Malachi 3:10 (NIRV)

"The King will reply, 'What I'm about to tell you is true. Anything you did for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

- Matthew 25:40 (NIRV)

Surrender the first and best part of all God’s gifts back to Him. If someone else wants it, then let them have it first.

I’ll be back in a month. I've found coming through at the last minute to be one of God's traits, so I suppose the arrival of this paperwork just a few hours before my departure means he wants me back in NZ again shortly.

Right now though I gotta go - but before I do, I gotta give back this laptop.


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