Seminar 2016 Testimony
Testimony of Dave Hodgson
I grew up in Zambia during the colonial era in the 1950s and 60s. I was a white kid in a black country – my first language was Bemba and I mingled with the black kids, because I loved the bush. I learnt tracking, trapping, you name it. I only spoke English to my parents when I went home at night. It was paradise for a young kid, but when I was 4 years old the nationalist independence movements were sweeping south through Africa and my parents decided it wasn’t safe to send me to school in Zambia and so they stuck me on a train in one of the towns in Northern Zambia and sent me to boarding school in the southern tip of Africa in the Cape province. 10 days on the train, 4 years old, unescorted across 4 countries – ‘See you in June’. I’ve seen photographs – the suitcase was as tall as me. When I got to South Africa on that train I didn’t know why I was being sent, I didn’t understand independence. When I got to South Africa I went to look for the black kids and got my brains beaten out because it was the Apartheid regime in the 50s and 60s. White kids didn’t talk to black kids there. And I couldn’t speak the black language anyway. I also couldn’t speak Afrikaans which was the white language. So I got beaten up by everybody. I grew up with a lot of rejection. So I learnt to fight, to defend myself. As I grew up I had the mindset that I’m going to be a high achiever and I’m going to conquer everything so I can impress these parents who have rejected me – Typical rejection syndrome.
So those were my formative years. In 1965 my parents moved out of Zambia and down to Rhodesia. I was moved from school in South Africa to boarding school in Rhodesia. My parents lived on a farm – during the school holidays the first thing for me was to go and find the black kids on the farm and learn the new language (Shona) and learn the Rhodesian bush because that was my passion. I had to leave school early because I made my girlfriend pregnant. She got sent to a maternity home and I got sent to the army for national service. I joined the SAS for the money – there was the most money there (I had to pay maternity fees and maintenance and my girlfriend and I had agreed to get married as soon as I got leave). Now I was only 17 and in the Rhodesian army you are not allowed to get shot until you are 18 so they just perpetually train you until you are old enough. SAS training is fairly intense and most of my training was in demolitions.
In the SAS we did all the normal things. Working behind enemy lines; blowing up bridges and ferries and aircraft; attacking the enemy and so on. This was during a war that lasted 14 years and in which I fought in for 10 years. It was my day job – everyday. We came back every so often for retraining and R&R but that was all we knew. We were being invaded. It’s different to fighting overseas; we were fighting for our lives. The essence of the SAS philosophy was nothing was too hard to do. Mission impossible didn’t matter.
In 1973 my girlfriend had a baby born on Christmas day. I was deep in Mozambique so she thought we were incommunicado. She thought I’d gone and she married another dude and he adopted the baby: more rejection.
I left the SAS to join the Selous Scouts after 4 years. With the Selous Scouts we trained to become terrorists, we became terrorists and we worked to infiltrate their ranks and killed them from the inside. The reason I got in as a white guy in a predominantly black regiment is that I knew the bush as well as they did. In the Selous Scouts you do a selection course. It’s quite hard because they take all your food away. That didn’t bother me in the slightest as I’m capable to live off the bush. But once that selection is finished they whittle you right down to just a few they then take you on what they call the dark phase where they train you to become a terrorist. I did that, worked with the scouts for the next four years and eventually took over their training institute called Wafa Wafa which means Die Die. It was a hard place.
For some further information on the Selous Scouts that will help you understand what went on there check out: Unconventional Warfare Lessons from the Selous Scouts, By Leroy Thompson http://selousscouts.tripod.com/unconventional.htm
I did that for 4 years and then I became a mercenary or an irregular as they were known in Rhodesia. They froze areas of Rhodesia where the terrorists had completely overrun the country – by freezing I mean no official forces in the area. However they asked us (Ex special forces guys) to operate in those areas (I had left the army). No support, no nothing, you are on your own. You go and kill a terrorist, $1000 a kill, $500 for a land mine, $500 for an AK, $5k for a capture. I was a colour sergeant by then after 8 years in the army getting $360 dollars a month suddenly you are getting paid the earth to go and do your day job. So I did that for two years as an entrepreneur (using my gifts for all the wrong things). I funded a significant fishing company on Lake Kariba by hunting down and killing terrorists. They were trying to shoot me also – they weren’t unarmed, however later on when I became a Christian I struggled with this. I knew we were going to lose the war at that time. Politically we were losing the war; we were going to lose the nation. And I was fighting to fund my fishing company. They were terrorists but in their minds they were freedom fighters, they were fighting for their people and their country even though they were pretty evil with how they did it. I was no longer fighting for king and country. So when I became a Christian many years later I never thought the Lord would forgive me.
Eventually the war ended and there was a sort of peaceful settlement and Mugabe took over, turned on his allies, and wiped out 30 thousand of Joshua Nkomo’s troops in one week. Everybody was disarmed. The SAS joined the South African army – moved as a column. The Selous Scouts was disbanded and disarmed and the white population was disarmed. Mugabe promised there would be no witch hunt and wanted everybody to stay, so he said. A lot of people left but I stayed because I had big fishing company and two mines. However they harassed us a lot and were always searching my house and trashing it. Now eventually somebody blew up a squadron of British Hawk jets at Thornhill airbase. My parents’ farm had a common boundary with the airbase. I was one of the last guys, if not the last guy capable of blowing up 12 planes. They tried various British officers which Margaret Thatcher had sent to help build the Air Force and acquitted them, tried them again, acquitted them, then locked them up. Thatcher then said ‘Let them out, those are my officers, my officers don’t blow up British planes. You find who did it otherwise we will cut British aid.’ By then Mugabe had formed a mineral marketing board he had compelled us to sell our minerals to him to put the price right down and put the wages right up. Deliberately put all junior miners out of business over night. So my wife and I came to Australia 1982 with a camera full of Sapphires – to see if I could bypass the mineral marketing board. It was while I was here I was accused of blowing up those planes. My mother phoned me and said they are coming round the farm everyday – they were strangling her until she would pass out and they were waiting for me at the airport. So I tried to get into Australia as a refugee. They said ‘You go out and immigrate back in like everybody else’.
My wife and I said goodbye. My wife’s plane went to Johannesburg to collect our two kids. Mine went straight back to Harare where Mugabe’s troops were waiting. We never thought we’d see each other again but my plane landed in Singapore to refuel and so I hopped of the plane and asked for a tourist Visa. They said yep. So I now had a two week reprieve. I was stateless, apart from my family, having nothing, entirely on my own. Yet I remembered there was an ex New Zealand Special Forces guy as an ops manager running an American commercial dive company there. I knew absolutely nothing about saturation diving (offshore deep diving). I just went there and lied my way into the job. He recognised my accent and he said ‘Man, Rhodesians and South Africans they are not unionised, they do what they’re told. We don’t care if you’re not trained. So I got a job in the workshop, another reprieve. At night when everyone went home I learnt to dive in the workshop. I pulled on the helmets, figured them all out, stripped and assembled them like an AK, studied all the manuals, and within a few months I reckoned I could become a saturation diver. One day a guy came in and the next day he went off on a Sat system. I asked how come he went off so quick and found out it’s because he’s an EMT (emergency medical technician) and they have to have one on every system. I said ‘I’m ex SAS we’re all medics’. We were way more advanced then an EMT, we treated gun shot wounds, people blown away, we worked in the casualty in the hospital for months and so on. He said ‘why didn’t you tell me – you can go next’. I went off to Japan within a week and was the only medic in a whole saturation system in Japan. 400 feet down. 35 days at a time. I was earning a $1000 US dollars a day in the 1980s.
I was then able to get my wife and kids out. It took a year to get them out of South Africa. Then it took us three years to migrate to Australia. I did that diving thing for four years. It was when I was in a Saturation chamber in Vietnam that I just chose this place that looked pretty on a postcard so we went to Perth when we got in.
In Perth I built up a motorcycle business. Bought it for 80k turned it into a multi million dollar business and it was while I was there that I was saved and became a Christian. I used to go to church with my wife she’d been a Christian a long while and she always used to drag me to church and I went there because I loved her and wanted her to stop whinging. I never believed anything that was being taught from the pulpit.
Eventually Reinhard Bonnke an evangelist from Africa was coming to town and my wife was hounding me saying I want you to come to this crusade, you’ll identify with him, and eventually she wore me down. So we went to this Crusade in the in big entertainment centre in Perth. I said to her okay – we go there we are not going in any company vehicles we go in a civilian vehicle. I don’t want the motorcycle community to see me mixing with you limp wristed Christians. So we stand at the back, we go in last, lights come on we’re out of there. She said I don’t care I just want you to come. So we went, Reinhard was down on the stage, preaching away. He can’t see up far due to the lights and he said ‘Up there, there’s an executive in the motor industry – you’re here under duress tonight’, he said ‘the Lord has knocked on your door many times and tonight could be the last time, so come now.’ – He’s very assertive. I ask my wife – do you think he’s talking about me? ‘What do you think?’ I thought it’s a setup – one of her friends is down there. The lights come on and I went down. I forgot that I was supposed to be clandestine. I go down and there’s none of her crowd – they’re all people from Africa and so on. So in short that’s when I became a Christian.
From there we moved up to the Atherton Tablelands. We sold the business and it was up there on the Atherton Tablelands that I was listening to the pastor preach. This is like 3 years later. I’d become a Christian but I’d never accepted forgiveness for the stuff that I had done. Shooting people to fund your business is not a good idea – it’s not the Christian thing. So I was always troubled. I’d heard pastors’ talk saying ‘God can forgive the liar and the cheat’. I thought liar and cheat ‘Man, everyone lies and cheats that’s just the market place. How could God forgive me?’ – I shot people. But one day I heard the pastor talking about Paul. So I went home and thought, this Paul was a bad dude, I better study him a bit and when I realised what he had done, how he had hunted down and killed Christians, how he had held other people’s jackets while they stoned Christians and how he gotten so forgiven he went on and wrote half the New Testament, I thought well I didn’t deliberately hunt down Christians; I’m not as bad as Paul – Paul did say he was the ‘worst of sinners’ and yet he got forgiven and when I understood that and it sank in it was like having a hot shower after coming in out of the cold. Christianity suddenly had meaning.
So from there on I learnt a lot more about what is the role of an entrepreneur in the kingdom. What am I supposed to do? What’s my purpose and narrowing it down to assignment? I realised I was supposed to fund my church because I have the gift of finance. My pastor Dan got transferred down to Caloundra to fix a church that had had it down there. I was staying up there quite happily teaching people on creation from my ex evolution days and having a ball. And then I got a prophetic word from one of the elders. He came to me and said to me I had a vision last night – this couple came from Africa and they went and stood with Pastor Dan and built a mighty church. And I’m thinking Dan has gone to Caloundra I’m near Cairns I’m not going down there. I said hey that’s fine my son and his wife are going down there soon. They are going down there to help Dan build the church. But no he said this couple comes from Africa – it’s you.
I lived with this for two years. I knew in my heart it was an assignment from God. But my head said if I leave this church it will collapse financially. I had a mega business running on the Atherton tablelands we were selling mobile phone plans. But I wasn’t doing what God wanted me to do. I was doing good things but not God things and he stood me down. So they brought out the prepaid cards in the Telco world and the carriers came to me and said we are bringing out these cards – and you need to move down stairs and you need to sell phone hardware. You’ll go broke if you stay upstairs and sell plans. I couldn’t move downstairs. I had all of these offices, staff and leases. I thought God will look after me I’m funding the kingdom. Well, you know what I went broke and the church prospered, the other way round to what I had been thinking. When they brought out the cards I had to sell everything. I even sold our clothes. We were virtually down to nothing. Eventually all our leases expired and we were able to wind things up. I wasn’t bankrupt but was utterly broke; all our furniture and everything gone; we had drawn money off our credit cards to pay our last wages – $76,000 worth of credit card debt. We then decided we had better do what God wanted us to do. So we jumped in our old boiling land cruiser. It took us three days to get to Caloundra. One loaf of bread between 5 of us – the rest of it was on fuel. We got to Caloundra and on the third Sunday night I was there Pastor Dave, national chairman of Christian Outreach Centre, (we didn’t know each other) called me over – and said the Lord has shown me that there are finances written all over you and you will be writing six figure cheques for the church in the near future. There’s me in my late 40s utterly broke, kids are at school, got to pay rent, $76,000 worth of credit card debt. I was on $5 an hour as a builder’s labourer. No qualifications – I knew how to shoot people that was it and here he says I’m going to write $100,000 cheques in the near future. The near future for me as an entrepreneur is yesterday. So we went home that night looked in the paper, how will we get 100 grand for the church so we can get out of this doldrums we are in? We found this Aussie Home Loans ad – they want a broker – 1 broker. I applied for the job. Eventually I got to the interview stage, down to 20 people. I went to pastor Dan and borrowed his shirt and jacket. It didn’t quite fit right. I went for the interview and walked into the room. I was late because we got lost in Brisbane and there are 19 other people; men with their 3 piece suits, beautiful girls with their eye lashes on, all waiting for the same job. I thought wow, turned around and walked out. I was terrified. Tough SAS dude, Selous Scouts operator frightened of these civvies. I was frightened of their clothes. I went to the loo and was looking in the mirror and the most profound thing happened to me – I’ve never heard the audible voice of God but it was like he was inside my head with a hammer. It felt like he was shouting ’Where have you learnt this fear. I have never taught you fear.’ My whole life flashed through me in front of the mirror. From 4 years. All the adversity on the trains, all the rejection, all the bullying, all the battles in the SAS, carrying your mates to the grave, we had to carry them out of Mozambique and back home, then explaining it to girlfriends, parachuting into battle where everything is on fire and it’s just a madhouse, I got blown up, losing my first son that way, getting on a plane to go and be hung … All these things flashed past. All that adversity and it was like the Lord said these are the threads of your life that I’ve woven into a mighty rope that nobody can break so get out there and take dominion. Now I was more scared of God than the suits, so I went out there and went back in and I got the job. I so shouldn’t have got the job, but God applied the favour because I had taken on the assignment and I went on to break the sales in Aussie for months, on months. I’m no sales man, that was God. We ended up building a hundred million dollar business in 2 years and 7 months – God Built it. From $76,000 worth of credit card debt.
So we helped fund the church and we funded other assignments that God showed us. Strategic initiatives in this country; influencing public policies, all sorts of things came from us – from Paladin Corporation. As that grew and grew – the Lord grew the assignment and eventually showed us that we had to lead the assault on changing culture in the marketplace – all about creating a community, a culture, a nation of justice where we get rid of greed, fear and corruption and we bring in the sharing, caring universal prosperity model that actually works. We do that everyday in our company.
I’d like to share a prayer as we finish.
Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, O Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.
Disturb us, O Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.
Attributed – Sir Francis Drake -1577