P.B. Turner is a life-long business entrepreneur. Growing up in a loving Christian family (mainline Episcopal Church) in rural Pennsylvania in the sixties and seventies, he became a Christian in his teenage years, albeit a Christian not very far along in his spiritual journey.
At age eighteen he lived in southern Germany as an exchange student for one year and briefly considered a life as an ordained minister. His sense of adventure and desire for more control over his life, however, led him away from the church and into the world of commerce. Following a formal business education with a BS in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Harvard Business School, with a stint at Deloitte and Touche in-between, he opted for the entrepreneurial world of small business start-ups and turnarounds.
Over a thirty-year period in Connecticut, he pursued interests in six different businesses, while at the same time raising a family with two boys, two girls, and most of the time, two dogs.
Halfway through his career, in the mid-nineteen nineties, P.B. reached an epiphany of sorts, as his early Christian upbringing called him to give more of himself to his church and community. He assumed lay leadership roles in the church he and his family attended; a mainline protestant church (the only protestant church in town). He served on his local school board for fourteen years and as a scout leader while his two boys participated in the scouting program.
In 2006, following an unwanted divorce and the sale of his latest venture, P.B. moved away from what had been primarily engineering and manufacturing firms and into the world of retail wine and liquor. After 30 years of pairing wine with dinner every evening, he used this hobby to help triple the sales of a previously successful store, which he and others purchased in 2008, in only two years. He was then remarried to a lovely Christian woman he met at church, and the two set out to spend their remaining years working toward a retirement where they could concentrate on serving the Lord.
God would teach P.B. a lesson, however, that he and many twenty first century Americans who call themselves ‘Christian,’ truly need. Our culture teaches us to solve problems on our own. “God helps those who help themselves,” it says. Our pride leads us to hide our vulnerabilities and to ‘fix things’ behind the scenes. We pray to God and ask for help, but too often we are not listening to what he says.
In 2011, P.B. faced a dilemma. He and his new wife owned two homes, with two mortgages, and enough college parent student loans to resemble a third mortgage. With the crash in the real estate market that began in 2008, home sellers were in a pickle. To assist with the cash flow needs of his situation, P.B. borrowed funds from his business without notifying his minority shareholders, waiting for the housing market to improve so he could sell an empty house. It was a plan he developed on his own, without input from God.
Unbeknownst to P.B., two of his minority shareholders discovered the borrowings and accused him of larceny, a felony crime. Before he could react, the United States federal government informed him he would be indicted for this ‘crime’. His assets were frozen and he was precluded by court order from any involvement in his business.
For six months P.B. tried to reason with his renegade partners and convince them that their actions were not in any of their best interests. After several failed attempts to reconcile their differences outside of court, P.B., in prayer, finally heard the message from the Holy Spirit that had been given to him many times in his life as a Christian, but a message not heard by him or at least not acted upon by him. When we face trials and tribulations in life, we need to turn them over to God completely. If we listen intently in prayer, God will advise us on how to proceed. With this message firmly in his heart, a sense of peace and calm came over him that he hadn’t experienced in quite some time.
What lesson did he really learn? It’s the same lesson the apostle Peter learned during Jesus’ last days. After correctly identifying Jesus as the Messiah, Peter became presumptuous. He reprimanded Jesus for saying that he, Jesus, must suffer, be killed, and then rise from the dead. Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me Satan. You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” (Matt 16:23 NLT).
Peter committed the same presumptuous sin when he later declared to Jesus, “’Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.’ Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth Peter – this very night, before the rooster crows you will deny three times that you even know me.’” (Matt 26: 33-34 NLT).
We are all at risk of thinking and acting in human ways that run counter to Biblical teachings; thinking and acting in ways that say that we don’t even know Jesus. Borrowing money in this case was not a criminal offense, but it was an offense against God. Pride prevented P.B. from asking his partners permission to borrow funds. He wanted to fix things behind the scenes and with no one knowing.
Following God’s direction through prayer, P.B. pleaded guilty to one felony charge which resulted in a seventy-week adventure in a federal prison camp that propelled his walk with Christ to new levels. He teamed up with some of the finest and most mature Christians he has ever known. Together they cultivated their own prison church, expanded each other’s Biblical knowledge, and helped other inmates find salvation through the loving grace of Jesus Christ.
Upon release from prison in 2015, P.B. found work to help pay the bills, but his passion, and his purpose, became spreading the biblical Christian worldview through books and essays that look at the current events of our time here on earth and ask the following questions:
How should biblical Christians react to the pluralistic, secular, post-modern world in which we live?
How should biblical Christians comport themselves in the ‘public square’ of ideas?