Where technology and revival meet — Part 1: Heavenly algorithm

Richard Gordon spiritual director of Bethel Tech, Redding, California

Andre Viljoen interviews Richard Gordon spiritual director of the world’s only Christian coding boot camp (Part 1 of 2)

Four years ago, some visionaries at Bethel Church in Redding California came up with an out-there, first-of-its-kind idea.

What if they took people who had never coded before and in just nine months equipped them with the skills to get entry-level coding jobs at the world’s most influential tech companies — AND  impact those companies with the culture of the Kingdom of God?

Four years down the road, Bethel School of Technology has over 700 alumni and some pretty amazing testimonies. More of that is in part two of this report.

In part one, Richard shares how God prepared him for his unique role as spiritual director of Bethel School of Technology — a role that ideally requires serious tech experience and an ability to disciple and raise revivalists to extend the Kingdom of God in the tech space.

Growing up in Durban, South Africa, in a secular, academic family, Richard was 17 when he visited a church for the first time. He said he experienced God’s presence in that historic, traditional church and embarked on a journey of pursuing God which led to him wildly and wholeheartedly pursuing Jesus.

Richard’s wife, Libby Gordon, was born in the United States of America but raised in Durban, South Africa. She was on a similar path of faith and the two crossed paths at university. Although first friends, it was Libby’s key influence that brought Richard into the convergence of his job and faith that he lives out today. 

Richard went on to complete a bachelor’s and an honours degree in electronic and computer engineering at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Then he began a master’s degree in electronic engineering with a focus on cryptography. It was a tough programme – only two out of 16 students who began the year graduated. Richard was one of the two and he gives the credit to God, thanks to a timely encounter with the Holy Spirit shortly after he told Libby he was thinking of quitting because it was proving too challenging.

During that time, Libby took him to his first service at a Charismatic church. Richard said he saw people tangibly affected by the Holy Spirit, which was new to him but he also experienced a deep awareness of God’s love. The preacher then said that God was releasing one more anointing “for a few people”. He said it was “a mantle for signs and wonders” and he advised people to get out of the way “when it comes”.

The preacher counted “1, 2, 3” and Richard said he stepped aside to get out of the way.

“And then this conservative guy [referring to himself] fell back rows of chairs and took out a section of people and two grannies,” he said.

Richard said after that experience, he shook and saw visions for nearly three hours. Then, for the next seven days, he shook more, barely slept and would wake up praying in tongues. He said his more conservative church friends thought he was losing his mind and Richard, being a very logical person, began to try to process what had taken place but most significantly, he had never felt closer to Jesus.

“And then all these miracles started happening around me – like healings and crazy stuff,” he said.

One night when he fell asleep, “I went into one of these dreams which was like an encounter and this angel handed me a scroll. And as he handed it sounded like the Lord said: ‘This is a telecommunications algorithm for your master’s degree.’ Wow! and I opened up the scroll and read ‘AODV’ and some other stuff.

“And then I woke up in a cold sweat and went to research it out on my computer and it turned out to be ‘ad hoc on-demand distance vector’ which is the shortest-path telecoms algorithm in the communication space. And it became the cornerstone in my book that I wrote [for his master’s thesis] that carried such practical, cutting-edge and effective solutions that it got published in six places and I’ve been flown around the world to speak at academic and military conventions about these findings,” said Richard.

He said the algorithm came together in a supernatural process. About seven times when he got stuck, he fell asleep and would have one of those dreams where an angel handed him a scroll and then he would wake up with a solution.

Richard said in retrospect he believes the heavenly algorithm experience was the beginning of part of what God is doing through him in Bethel Tech, where he says they have stopped counting the number of times students have had supernatural “downloads” of code.

“I didn’t just have an encounter in the realm of technology [when the angels handed him scrolls]. My identity got shifted at that moment and I became someone who would go into the tech sphere and see God not only in people’s lives but in their work,” he said.

Richard got job offers from the military in South Africa and foreign ministers from other nations. But he felt he was called to remain in Durban and in the commercial sphere. So he worked for a major corporation in the field of electronic and control components for eight years — as a junior developer, senior developer, a team leader of software engineers and then as a specialist for the company who was sent around to solve problems.

Richard said a time came when he felt convicted to move to America to put Libby through a ministry school [Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry — BSSM]. “Because I saw like this crazy call of God in her life… I’d never seen anything like it in anyone and I just felt like part of my role was to lay my life down so that Libby could like arise and shine in the area of her passions and gifting.”

So, shortly after he was promoted to a senior position in the company he told his employers he was resigning for the sake of his wife. They immediately offered him contract work in the US and increased his salary.

In America, Richard continued to walk in his identity to see God at work in the tech space.

He recalled the first time he went on a project assignment to Google’s headquarters. He said he was very excited to be working with Google and felt nothing he had would be elevated enough so he put on his black wedding suit for the occasion.

During the three-hour drive to Google, he said it felt like God prompting was him to take note that he was going to meet a man called Daniel and would have lots of favour with him and doors would open.

At Google, he discovered he was the most overdressed person — the other engineers were dressed in sweats. He was taken to an office and introduced to a man called Daniel who he was told he would work alongside. Richard’s job was to oversee the integration of a YouTube application with technology developed in Africa.

The integration failed six of 20 tests and Google employees told him he was going to fail. But then a Google senior manager took him to lunch and opened up to him about problems in his life. During this time Richard prophesied over the manager “who was clearly in shock but confirmed the details and was grateful for the encouragement”.

Back at the office, the same manager told Richard he would pass him if he could fix the project issues by the next Monday. Daniel said that was unheard of and he asked: “What did you guys talk about at lunch?”

Together with his team from SA, India and Germany they fixed the problems and passed all the tests when he returned to Google the next week. Richard said he was told that they were the first African-based company to integrate a YouTube application into their embedded system.

Richard said he has six or seven other stories of how “God showed up” on tech assignments. But despite his career adventures, his heart was captivated by something else.

“Libby came home crying every day from BSSM — in a good way, saying: “I never knew a culture like this existed. It’s true. It’s everything we thought, and people here are actually living it. We’ve read about this in the Bible. People aren’t intimidated by big people– they’re championing each other’s dreams.

“It’s a place where you can be vulnerable and you don’t get squashed for your weakness. The leaders don’t have to be the strongest people in the room. It’s all the stuff we were dreaming together for.’”

Richard said after about a year of Libby’s crying “in a good way”, he thought maybe it was time he should try BSSM himself. He told his employers his plan and they gave him a “nice increase” and said he could work for them part-time.

“And so I did school [BSSM] and my life got absolutely transformed inside and out,” said Richard.

Meanwhile, after Libby completed her second year, Bethel offered her a dream job as a BSSM pastor. During his second year, Richard somehow got to speak at a conference where two prominent prophets – Patricia King and Bobby Conner – both prophesied over him, saying that he was going to be part of a tech revival.

“I thought to myself that these guys have got it all wrong” because he had just met with Bethel leadership who had told him they wanted to invite him to pastor at the school. He had finally quit his software engineering career and he was excited about pastoring.

For the next three years, he enjoyed the time of his life pastoring with Libby in the BSSM first-year programme. But then something unforeseen happened which would radically impact his life in a new way. More of that in Part 2.

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One Comment

  1. Can’t wait for Part 2! Wow!