A Silicon Valley venture capitalist tells his story at a recent Prayer Breakfast. Interesting how a simple act of Christian love can impact the destiny of a Prime Minister and his son. ◊
Nic’s high school friend tried to invite him to church many times. Nic always said no. Though he was raised in a Christian home and attended church dutifully while young, Nic says now that back then he had a “LinkedIn relationship with Jesus” – that is, he was connected, but he really didn’t know Him.
His plan one Sunday was to attend a school social/picnic event near a lake. This time he had a good excuse to turn down his friend’s invitation to church. But before the event, his Christian friend called him and told him that he’d had a dream the night before and that in his dream Nic drowned in the lake. He urged him to not attend the picnic. Thinking his friend silly, Nic went to the picnic regardless that Sunday morning. He was surprised to see his friend there. “Why aren’t you in church?” Nic asked his friend. His friend replied, “I came here instead to make sure that you did not drown today.”
Nic was amazed at this level of caring, this act love by his friend, who would later become a pastor, and who is a close friend to this day. Not surprisingly, the next time this friend invited Nic to church, Nic went with him. After not too long a time, Nic heard and understood the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and one morning stepped into a new life as a young believer.
Son of Poverty and a Political Legacy
Today Nicholas Brathwaite is a successful Silicon Valley investor and the founder of Riverwood Capital Management. His advanced educational degrees and a successful technology business career with Intel and Flextronics betray his humble origins.
He is from the small island country of Granada located in the Caribbean. His grandfather ran away from a broken home at the age of 12 and eventually raised a family of his own with multiple children. Nic’s father grew up to become a politician in his home country. After the 1983 US-led invasion of Granada to stabilize the country after a communist coup attempt. Nic’s father was installed as Granada’s Prime Minister and later elected under free democratic elections.
Where’s God in This? Is God in This?
Some logical questions might be stirring:
- Where is God in this? (Answer: All over it.)
- Is God even in Granada? (Answer: Yes.)
- Did God guide Nic’s grandfather? (Answer: Perhaps, but not necessarily.)
- Did God make Nic’s father prime minister? (Answer: Allowed, not necessarily made.)
- Did God make Nic successful because of his Christian faith? (Answer: Not necessarily.)
Good questions. The answers may not be satisfactory but reflect a known theme about God: He’s everywhere and available to all of us, even in small Caribbean islands. He controls all things yet extends full freedom of choice to all of us. Scripture tells us that He allows for and raises up kings. He also raises up and destroys nations. While worldly success can come to anyone, it’s not the point of life. The Bible reveals to us that God loves all people and has purposely provided a path to a restored relationship with Him.
That path is through Christ.
In spite of these arrangements, many of us are not paying attention. Yes, we can even still have a pretty successful life self-orchestrated by hard work and initiative. But there’s more to it.
God moves in mysterious ways. And sometimes through people unaware of His Holy machinations to achieve what He wants in this broken world. And He does it over time, sometimes a long time. Even over multiple generations.
Nic’s Thoughts and Prayers
At his breakfast talk* Nic said that Jesus does not make him a better Silicon Valley investor, but that Jesus makes him a better man, husband, and father. And therefore Jesus influences who he is as an investor.
He also humbly admitted that it took him awhile to catch on to all of this. He said he had his heart and mind opened to new understanding about God’s ways when he shared God’s answer to two major prayers he had, one about his mother, and another about his father.
- His prayer for his Mother – Nic said he prayed all his life for his wonderful parents to live a long life. When his mother died at age 70 he was furious with God. How could God take her so soon when he had prayed so fervently for a specific opposite outcome? (He wanted her to live to age 100.) He said he railed angrily at God and then felt God’s presence on him. He felt God telling him that “I actually answered your prayer.” The previous year that she was sick and therefore lived with him and Nic’s family in California was a blessing in disguise. He calculated that had she lived in Canada, the few visits per year would never come close to the amount of time they spent together in California. God’s answer to his prayer was very different from what Nic had expected.
- His prayer for his Father – Nic prayed that his father would become a believer in Christ before he died. While his father was on his deathbed, Nic visited him and had a chance to talk to his father, his hero, and tell him about Jesus. Nic said he botched the messaging but his father acknowledged Jesus as Lord and Savior nevertheless. His father died a few days later. Nic sees it that God used an imperfect instrument (Nic) to get His will done.
So What Do We Have Here?
So what about this story of a highly successful son of a successful third-world politician? If it’s just the tale of a family finding success in the world, then it’s an interesting biography, but not necessarily spiritually compelling.
What’s actually spiritually compelling is that many years ago God protected the life of a scared 12-year-old boy running away from a dysfunctional home. Many years beyond that God revealed a vision in the dream of a devoted young Christ follower. A dream that his friend would drown. The friend’s love for his friend stuck a chord and led to a changed life of one Nic Brathwaite. This Nic would develop in his understanding of the One True God of who loves, forgives, directs, disciples, and answers the prayers of His children. And this child would someday lead his own father, who had the world’s success but lay dying alone in his bed, to that real Love that surpasses all understanding.
Now that’s a story worth telling.
Do you know this kind of Love?
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. – 1 John 4:16
* Silicon Valley Prayer Breakfast, “Connect Silicon Valley – Conversations: Faith+ Life”