FATE OR COINCIDENCE, THE STORY OF MY FIRST ADULT BIBLE & THE STRANGER
They say nothing happens for nothing or by chance. I have been yearning for a year now to own a new Bible. Truth is, I already have a bible, but for some reason, I wanted one to be given me as a gift, funny isn’t it. I went out and bought a Bible, but it didn’t feel the same, I wonder why. It was a Women’s Devotional Bible, New Living Translation, I thought surely, reading the side notes written by women should give me insight, but no, it felt like something was missing. I dug up my other old Bible I have had for over 7 years, one I got in Birmingham, but I got distracted by my old markings, I wanted a new one, a gift, then I thought about the first time someone had given me a Bible, it was a long time ago, in a far away land, ……it changed my life.
I grew up as a Catholic Christian in Cameroon, went to Catholic Primary schools, went to an all girls Catholic Boarding school for 5 years and later spent 2 more years in another Catholic institution, another boarding school, mixed gender. I was familiar with Bibles, owned one, it was a requirement. Like most Christian children, familiarity with Bible stories was a lot of that, familiarity, part of life. By my late teens, I started to seek more, to want to know more, investigate and be curious. I also got exposed by this time, in University to a non-Catholic population, got my first job at MTN telecommunications company and there I met an interesting individual, a meeting, barely a few minutes, but one that will change a big part of my life.
I was the Administrative Assistant at the time to the Chief Operations Officer, Mr Logan Pather (it’s been so long, 2002 I believe). One afternoon, this tall caucasian gentleman walks in the office asking to see Mr Pather, I asked him to wait, so he sat down. We made idle conversation and he asked me, I believe what some of my goals were or something, I really don’t recall. All I remember vividly was that something about what he asked made me tell this gentleman that I had been thinking that I wanted to own a Bible and I didn’t have one. It was the truth, another truth was that my life at the time did not reflect that of a Bible-reader. Let’s just say I had been through the washing machine, car-wash, dishwasher and then some, I was far from believing in the power of God, but for months I had started to feel like I wanted to know about God in a different way, from just listening to homilies. I confess I had been a very passive Catholic. I went to church, most days, let the Priest do my work, interpret the Bible, went about my business and life went on. However my soul had started yearning for more.
The gentleman eventually went in to talk to Mr Pather, said goodbye on his way out, then less than 5 -10 minutes later, he reappeared with a small box in his hand, when he handed it to me he said something to the effect like “here is your Bible, I hope you don’t just have it, but that you actually read it”. I took it, stupefied. The last thing I could think of was ask him his name, and he said ” Lee Bramlet”, and he was gone, never to be seen again.
My heart beat so fast, I didn’t know anything about this man, he was in a Telephone company for crying out loud, why would he have a brand new Bible with him, my boss was South African, Indian decent, this Lee was American if his drawl was any give-away, how come I was talking Bibles with a stranger of all things in an office and what are the odds he will actually have one with him. I took that as a direct order to read the book, and so that day, I took my brand new Bible home, from the stranger and started reading from Genesis. I wrote his name in the front, so I don’t forget. I didn’t think I will ever see him. I was in Cameroon, Africa, he was from I-don’t-know-where, it was 2002, no phones, no emails, he doesn’t know my name and I can’t pick him out from a mug shot. All I know is, God sent this man to give me a book. How does one even go about reading a Bible? I told myself I will read it like a novel, start from the first page and read a few lines every day. It took me a full year, but I had promised the stranger I would read it, and I did.
Years later I forgot his name, he was the stranger. I traveled to the USA in 2003, and I brought my special Bible with me. By then my life had changed so much, I wanted to tell this stranger thank you but I didn’t even know is he was German, English or American, still, that big bear smile and accent had to be American. I have carried this Bible with me everywhere, lost it, found it, bought and owned other Bibles along the way these past 12 years, and this week I found it again, worn but I found it, and when I opened the fist page, I found that I had written his name inside, LEE BRAMLET!!! Yesss, Today in the day of email, google, facebook, I finally have a chance 12 years later of looking for The Stranger who blessed me 12 years ago in Cameroon, Africa with my first Bible as an adult and disappeared into thin air. Lee, wherever you are, I hope you are not hard to find, I hope I have the right spelling of your name and that there aren’t a thousand of you out there in google-land. I hope to God you are alive too, that will help. I hope life has been good to you. All I want to say is thanks for being a Connecting Angel.