Wilben Short

Profession: Transport

It was just after 8pm when my mobile rang.  My former colleagues from the London Underground Northern Line had joined me at a farewell dinner to celebrate my move to Florida to take up my dream job.  I stepped out of the restaurant to take the call.  The voice at the other end told me that the board of the company I was going to work for had decided to pull out of the United States, and my job was no more!

Numb with shock at the news, I mumbled, “I am a Christian and I believe God wil see me through this”.  Back home, I called Claire, my wife, who was in Berlin visiting a friend.  She calmly told me that all we had to do was to trust in God.

The whole family had already booked a holiday to Freetown in Sierra Leone and we decided to go ahead with the holiday.  Whilst on holiday, I spoke at the Full Gospel Business Men’s banquet.  My theme was ‘God is no man’s debtor’.  I said that God was faithful and would see me and my family through the difficult times we were going through.

On our return, I went back on the job market – not exactly easy at 51.  I was offered a job by a major engineering firm only to be told, a few weeks later, that the jon offer had been withdrawn.  The same thing happened a second time.  After that experience, I decided to set up my own company, offering consultancy services to the rail industry.

Within two days I won my first contract.  A few weeks later, I won my second contract, to provide advisory services for the London 2012 Olympic bid.  The rest, as they say, is history.  I was in Singapore as part of the London 2012 delegation when London was awarded the Games.  A few months after my return, I took on my current role as Head of Transport on a full-time basis.

This was not the first time I had seen God actively at work in my business life.  In 1993 I had been appointed General Manager of the Northern Line.  One newspaper article siad that “Mr Short has drawn the short straw and inherited one of the toughest transport jobs in London”.  The article ended by saying, “Mr Short is a committed Christian; he will need all the help from above”.

That newspaper did not realise how prophetic it was!  In my six years as General Manager, the Northern Line received more investment than in the previous two decades!  A fleet of new trains was introduced and all the stations on the southern end of the line underwent major refurbishment.  At last, the press stopped referring to us as the “Misery Line”.

It has not always been like this.  I was born into a prominent, well-respected, church-going family and grew up in Ghana and Sierra Leone feeling very much loved by my parents.  I did well at school.  However, during my teenage years I began to question everything I had been taught in church and started searching for the true meaning of life.  As a teenager, I developed an interest in the supernatural and started reading books on mysticism.  I also started practising yoga.  In my second year at University I gave up going to church completely.  I did not think much of the Christian faith because I never heard of supernatural experiences.

But one evening I was in my bedroom, reading one of those books on eastern mysticism.  At the end of the book a list of recommended reading included the Bible.  The thought occurred to me that, even though I had rejected Christianity, I had never read the Bible!

So I started reading John’s gospel and soon came across Jesus’ claim that he was the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6).  At this point I believed that all religions contained the same core truth and were equally valid.  To accept Jesus’ claim as “the Way”, not one of many ways, was to reject everything I believed in at that time.  Yet the more I read of John’s gospel the more I realised that Jesus was either who he said he was, or a liar.  So, despite many questions unanswered, I took a leap of faith and asked Jesus to become the Lord of my life and to take the driving seat.

As a Christian, I know God is interested in every aspect of my life, including my job.  I constantly face difficult situations for which, humanly speaking, I have no answers.  I am so grateful I have a God I can speak to, who intervenes in the affairs of ordinary people.  Looking back, I can see how, time and time again, He has made a way where there seemed to be no way.  If anything, I should trust God a lot more than I do, becaues he has been so faithful.

It is now nearly six years since that fateful telephone call.  In the course of doing my job, I have met with royalty, several famous businessmen and sports personalities.  I have been privileged to observe three Olympic Games, in Athens, Turin and Beijing, and the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne – not bad, for someone who love sport and travelling!

I have a God-fearing wife, without whose prayers and support I know I would not be where I am today.  Life continues to be full of challenges but I know that God will see me through the good times as well as the bad.