They called themselves “Men of God”. After travelling through South America for five years, they built a house in the middle of nowhere, spreading the message of God to those who passed by, offering them shelter, food and wisdom that they had gathered since the time they devoted their lives to Him.
Opinion Disclaimer: Following is an account of my interaction with two people in Northern Patagonia, Chile. The views expressed in this article are solely theirs, and neither represent my opinion, nor necessarily imply my agreement with them.After cycling about 33 kilometers from Puerto Tranquilo, I saw a signboard with something written in Hebrew. There was another signboard nearby, which said Jesucristo (Spanish word for ‘Jesus Christ’). In the distance, two men were working on what seemed to be a hut. Near the white gate a signboard said; “Anyone who comes into this garden is invited by Lord Jesus”. I stopped there and waved at the men. The younger one of the two, walked towards me. In broken Spanish, I requested him for some place to stay the night. He went back to the other man, and then gestured for me to come inside.
His name was Sair. He hugged and greeted me. “Where are you from?”, I asked him. “It does not matter. God has sent me to this corner of the world. Someday my time will run out and I will go back” was his reply. I went to the hut and greeted the other man. His name was Victor. Sair and Victor were trying to fix a window in the hut. Victor could only speak Spanish, so Sair translated everything to English.
He would close his eyes, ask God and do exactly as he was told. No matter how foolish the answer may appear to be.
They had recently bought this piece of land, about 5 Hectares for 50 thousand US dollars. Victor used to be a businessman. He tried many different businesses but they all kept failing. One day he broke down and screamed out to God to help and guide him. He said, that his life changed completely from that moment onwards; he stopped listening to his mind or his heart, instead he would close his eyes, ask God and do exactly as he was told. No matter how foolish the answer may appear to be.
Some years ago, Victor met Sair; they both introduced themselves as Christians; they hugged and started to travel together. They travelled throughout South America for over 5 years, taking with them the message of God and Jesus. There were many times when they ran out of money, and were helped with what they believed to be divine intervention. Once they told the owner of a camp that Jesus Christ had sent them because they could stay there for free. The owner took them inside without saying a word! At times they would hitchhike to a place and then hitchhike back because they believed God was sending them back for a purpose.
“The purpose of our life is not to meet people, or to share this place. But God told us to convey His message to His people.”
Eventually, they decided to build a house, to share everything they have with people and convey the message of God to them. “Why didn’t you make this in or near a city?” I asked. “ Because if we had made it in a city then people would have come to us with greed to fulfill their needs. It would have been difficult for us. We have made it in the middle of nowhere, so that only the people guided or sent by God will reach here. We are not doing this to show off. We do not need anything. We do not take donations. We are just doing what God has asked us to do. The purpose of our life is not to meet people, or to share this place. We could have done that and made a lot of money by making a cafe and a camping site. But God told us to convey His message to His people.”
Remaining true to their mission, Victor has set some house–rules for the visitors, all taken from the Bible; 1) No Smoking, 2) No sex, 3) No lies, 4) No stealing, 5) Belief in God, and 6) No Alcohol.
Although he is from Chile, Victor does not like the Chilean people. He finds the Chilean people polite but hypocritical. He likes people from Argentina because he finds them to be honest and friendly; if they do not like you, they will say it to your face. He said that he did not follow any religion but believed in the Bible and the Old Testament. He then said that he considered himself to be a Christian but did not agree with the concept of Mary as the “Mother of God.” He also found the practice of creating religious images and statues, as “utterly wrong”. Interestingly still, he greeted Jews with Assalam O Alaikum and Muslims with Shalom. He also seemed to have a different sense of humor, teasing me by yelling Allah O Akbar and signaling the explosion of a suicide bomber.
“You should only share with people, from whom you have no hope of help or those who cannot repay you.”
I tried to share some of the food and spices I was carrying with them, but they said that it made them upset. I explained, “I just wanted to share”. He said, “You should only share with people, from whom you have no hope of help or those who cannot repay you. You are our guest and there is no justification for you to share.” They did not even let me help in cooking or washing the dishes. Sair said; “let me do this. God has told me what I should do. And I am doing this happily. God has not sent you here to help me. He has sent you to help yourself. You should rest and think what you should do in your life? And please do not take out the food items that you are carrying with you, that’s an insult towards us.”
Later that evening, Harel from Israel, stopped over at the hut. At dinnertime Sair kneaded the flour and made a large pizza over the fire grill. Even the four of us could not finish it. After dinner, Harel asked permission to smoke. Victor reminded him about the rules of the house. Harel then asked him for the permission to prepare a cigarette, which lead to a rather heated dialogue between the two. “Is smoking not bad for health?” asked Victor. “ That is true but sugar is bad for health too” said Harel. Victor retorted, “Everything that can be given to a 7 year old is allowed, everything else – forbidden”. Then, there was silence. Victor closed his eyes (to ask God). After staying silent for a while, he opened his eyes, pointed at me and said; “ you are the judge, you decide if he can make a cigarette here?” Everyone started looking at me. I was perplexed, but after sometime I said; “If I were in Harel’s place, I would have gone outside to prepare and smoke the cigarette.” Everyone welcomed my decision, and I breathed a sigh of relief.
Later at night, Victor showed us videos of people who had stayed at the hut. A lot of the men and women, cyclists and motorcyclists, were from Israel; easily identifiable because they spoke Hebrew. The videos showed them kayaking, fishing, cooking together, singing, and playing football and badminton. The hut has become well known amongst the Jewish and Israeli travellers, and hundreds of them have stayed here.
“Jews are the ‘number 1’ people of the world because they are the descendants of the Prophet Ishaq son of Prophet Ibrahim. The rest are all number 2.”
According to Victor, Jews are the ‘number 1’ people of the world because they are the descendants of the Prophet Ishaq son of Prophet Ibrahim, and the rest of the human kind are all number 2. Sair’s mother is European, while his father is from Iraq. Victor calls him ‘Arab’ or ‘People number 2’. He even makes fun of himself by calling himself Chilean or ‘people number 2’. While, they offer free stay and whatever else they own to all their visitors, they consider it as their duty to especially host those who are Jewish or from Israel.
“If one day Israel was to throw away its weapons and give itself to God, saying; ‘O God protect me!’ would God not protect His favorite people?”
“A lot of Jews come and stay here” said Victor “they are God’s chosen people but it is unfortunate that a lot of them do not believe in God. Look around; you’d see that the richest people in the world are Jews. They know how to make money, and they are wise, but they have not opened their fists and they are misers even to spend a single penny. Yet 90 percent of Israel’s population travels and spends all of their savings on sightseeing. In a way, God is teaching them how to spend money. How much money does Israel spend on its ammunition? And how much do the rest of the Arab countries spend? If one day Israel was to throw away its weapons and give itself to God, saying; ‘O God protect me!’ would God not protect His favorite people?”
Victor and Sair considered money to be the evil of the world. They tried to live as much as they can without money. According to Victor, if everyone helped others in their time of need, then there will be no need for money. “Money is of no value to God! God created these mountains and glaciers, and then men charge others money to show these to them.” said Victor, pausing to add, “If God asks me today, whether I would like to die today or tomorrow? I would say today! My heart is content. I don’t need anything from the world.”
Victor and Sair did not own a watch, clock or a calendar. They had no idea of time, the date, or day. They had transcended time. They would wake up when they would; eat when they felt like it. But they did cook food for their guests at appropriate hours.
“What is intelligence? It is the capacity to solve a problem!”
At breakfast, as they served me bread and omelet, Victor asked me to define intelligence. “The ability to make a wise decision or ability to differentiate” I said. He said; “The capacity to solve a problem! You can have all the knowledge in the world but if you are not intelligent then you can not solve even small problems”.
“Like a cheetah that selects one deer out of the herd, focuses on it, and chases it down, oblivious to every other deer that passes in front of him – that’s the kind of focus you need.”
We then delved in to an intense discussion about knowing one’s own self. According to Victor; I had no energy. He felt no energy in me. He felt that I was lost, confused, had no interest in life and had no idea of my destination or what I wanted to do. He believed that God had made me do many things, such as breaking all barriers to start this journey, but I was worthless and boring because I was not talking or trying to connect with God; I lead a purposeless life.
“Like a cheetah that selects one deer out of the herd, focuses on it, and chases it down, oblivious to every other deer that passes in front of him – that’s the kind of focus you need. A purpose to which you can dedicate your life! You can get clarity only when you leave everything to God and leave the material world” he said in a single breath. “Who are you?” He suddenly asked. I couldn’t come up with an answer quick enough. “I am from Chile and a Christian, Who are you?” He asked again. “I am a Pakistani, and a little German, I am a Muslim but not a very religious person” I tried. “Wrong!” He said, “ That is confusion! Go outside, sit under the tree in the sun and ask God. God is calling you”.
With little choice, I went and sat outside and started thinking; who am I? What should I be doing? After every few minutes Victor would come outside and ask, “ who are you” I would give him an answer, but he would reject it. Until finally, he stopped after I told him, “ I am a man of God, I am a Pakistani, but I like Germany because I have lived there”. Victor was only trying to clear my confusion. He wanted me to think, to talk to myself and to be clear. “You do not have energy. You are sad. You do not love anything. Your heart is not inclined towards God. It finds solace in the world. When you are cycling and are alone, think! Reach out to God! He is waiting for you!”
Around noon Victor served me a huge portion of pasta and vegetables. “But we just had breakfast” I protested. “ It is an insult to say no to food,” said Victor. In the afternoon, I helped Victor and Sair in putting up the window. I told them about the French cyclists, and that they would be passing by soon. Victor said I should invite them in for coffee.
“People say that perfection is complicated. In reality, perfection only means simplicity. Start removing the unnecessary details and you will understand the concept of perfection!”
They constructed the houses by themselves without any construction experience. “God taught us how to build a house”, said Sair. We put up the window and the nails without any measurements whatsoever. Victor used his hands to measure and then hammer a nail in to the window frame. He shared that all the measurements in the hut were different, that they didn’t strive for perfection or precision. He pointed at the mountains and said; “Look at those mountains, they are all different from each other. All trees look different from one another. Even the order of the trees is disorderly, but all of this looks so beautiful. This disorder and distinctness is nature’s technical and artistic mastery! People say that perfection is complicated. In reality, perfection only means simplicity. Start removing the unnecessary details and you will understand the concept of perfection!”
“Humans have the wrong concept about everything! For example, what is love? You will get many different answers. A wise man will never hesitate and say ‘I don’t know’. We only know words. We don’t understand their significance or depth. We cannot understand love. We are the product of the union of a man and woman, but it is not necessary that they loved each other. Only those blessed by God are given the ability to understand. When you give your heart and mind to God, only then you will be able to get close to the truth!”
“We all want to reach the absolute truth but we are confused, and it all seems very complicated. Look at this cookie! How many recipes are needed to make it? One or many? Just one, right? In the same way, there is only one absolute truth and there is only way to reach it; empty yourself, stop listening to your heart, stop trusting your mind, talk to God, and dedicate your life to Him. That is when He will guide you to the absolute truth. A lot of things do not have a logical answer. It is possible that the truth is very bitter. It is possible that your mind refuses to accept it. But it will remain the truth!”
“Every person has his own ladder that will take him to God. Just keep climbing that ladder.”
“Is there a way to reach God?” I asked Victor. He said; “ The way to reach God is personal. No individual can tell another about it. You have to establish your own connection with God, and He will make it easy for you. Every person has his own ladder that will take him to God. Just keep climbing that ladder.”
We had just got done with the window, and were thinking about how to fill the empty space between the two windows when Victor yelled; “Look, your friends!” Julien and Fabio were slowly passing by. Victor whistled at them and I ran out towards them. They were surprised to see me. They thought I would have been much further ahead by now. Victor and Sair hugged and welcomed them, and served food and tea.
In the evening, Victor stood beside the newly set window, looking at the moon; “Sometimes I go to the moon and look at the earth. Everything that we have is confined to this little globe; a small dot in such a vast universe. 6 billion people and I am just one of them. Why will God pay any attention to me when I am not giving Him any attention? Suppose there are some guests visiting your house, some of them are there to seek help from you, some of them want your money, some of them are there just to be entertained, and some of them are there because they want to know you and talk to you – who will you pay attention to? who will you welcome?” “The ones who are there to know me” I said. “Exactly” he replied, “That is exactly who God talks to, those who want to know Him. Not those who are always asking him for things. It is not difficult to talk to God. Just go to a mountain one day, spend the entire day remembering him. You will find him when you are coming back. God does not turn His back towards the one who is looking for Him.”
After a long discussion, Julien and Victor agreed that there is a natural force/energy in the universe that was responsible for the creation of the universe, and everything in this universe was connected to that force; that was God for Victor, while Julien considered it to be energy.
Later, Victor taught us how to cut wood with an axe and with a chain saw. We then tested our aim with an air gun and tried to target two cans at a distance. I could only hit the target once. But Fabio and Julien both managed to hit the target twice.
Darkness set in, and Victor challenged us all to light a fire using only three matchsticks. Julien and Fabio tried using the “sparking stick” method without the matchsticks, but failed. I tried to light a big piece of wood with the help of smaller pieces but was not successful. I wondered out loud; “how can a forest catch fire so easily when a single lit matchstick is thrown in it?” It was Victor’s turn then. He ran outside, brought in a heave of dried twigs, then placed a single lit match in the center. And there was fire! The lesson was learnt; do not try to light a single piece of wood, rather try to burn fire under a pile of small twigs.
Sair made tea on the fire, and cooked a delicious pizza. Before dinner, Victor asked who I would like to sit with Julien or Fabio? I sat next to Julien, because he was nearer. Victor said: “you are more attached to Julien. Remember, when you chose one, you lose many!”
Victor asked us about our siblings. When we asked him the same question, he said that he has many siblings, though not related by blood. “Relations of blood end with death, but relations of the soul (spiritual relations), like the one he has with Sair –continue even after death. Friends are more important than blood relations, because you chose them for yourself based on a mutual understanding. Unlike blood relations – that are nothing more than a coincidence”.
“Perfect does not need anyone. Perfect can do everything and is only one of its kind!”
Victor asked us to define perfection. We said; “ That which can not be improved”. He discarded our definition and presented this definition; “Perfect does not need anyone. Perfect can do everything and is only one of its kind! Only God is perfect!” We agreed, but suggested that his definition was focused on divinity, and that there may be other earthly concepts of perfection. For example a circle or a sphere – mathematically perfect designs. Victor was annoyed; “mathematics is a game of numbers and everything that has been created by man is imperfect.”
As we huddled around the fire post dinner, Victor shared some advice; “A cyclist is like a child. Just as a child is free and does not have a bad spirit, a cyclist is also completely free. A cyclist can never have a bad spirit. Bad spirits don’t enter bodies that suffer, and a cyclist physically suffers in his long journey. Suffering cleanses the body.”
“Cyclists are rebels. They do not spend money on their conveyance, they learn about people and cultures, and about the problems in the society. The world will always discourage the cyclist.”
“Childhood is a spiritual time,” he continued, “you are lost in your own world, and playing is the most important task. Tour cycling is a return to childhood; you leave the material world and make the road your world. It is a spiritual journey. Cyclists are rebels. They do not spend money on their conveyance, they learn about people and cultures, and about the problems in the society. The world will always discourage the cyclist.”
“There is no free will except the will to obey or disobey God”
“Your friends and family will try to induce fear in you. But you must not give in. Because wherever there is fear and sadness, there will be the devil, and negative energy. Collect positive energy by giving to others in needs. Everyone thinks that there is no love in the world but we don’t do anything to change that. When you travel, think about how you can give or teach others. Use your intelligence to help others but don’t give away what you need for yourself. Remember that there is no free will except the will to obey or disobey God.”
We sat talking around the fire until midnight. When we finally got into our beds the flames were still alive. I could not sleep for a long time, thinking about all the things Victor had said.
It kept raining throughout the night. We stayed in bed until 11am. Victor and Sair prepared omelets and bread for our breakfast. After which Julien and Fabio decided to leave; I wanted to stay another day. But Victor and Sair said that God had told them that I should leave with them as well because I am happier with them, and that this place made me sad. I resisted. I wanted to learn more from Victor, but they insisted, I gave in and got ready to leave.
“Pray that you find God and that you do not need to come back here”
As we prepared to leave Victor asked Julien and Fabio, “What would you tell Kamran to improve in himself?” They both said; “nothing!” And added that they felt that I brought a lot of energy to the group. Victor told them; “he is funny from the outside but inside he is lonely. Take care of him”. After we exchanged good byes, I told Victor that I would like to meet him again. “Pray that you find God and that you do not need to come back here” he replied.
As my bicycle rolled on the gravel road, I kept wondering where exactly I was going.