By Dan Wooding, founder of ASSIST and ASSIST News Service
SANTA ANA, CA (ANS – Feb. 10, 2015) — Life couldn’t have been worse for Bonnie Brown. Her marriage broke up, her Christian school went under, and her two teenage daughters announced they were pregnant.
But then came the silver lining – she went to work for Google in Silicon Valley as a masseuse and was paid part in stock options and when the company went public, she became a multi-millionaire overnight.
Some time ago, I interviewed Bonnie for my Front Page Radio show on KWVE 107 FM (www.kwve.com ) in Southern California, and she told her incredible story for the listeners.
She began by explaining that she found Christ in 1972 in the Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa big tent during the Jesus People hippie revival.
“Yes, I was a hippie,” she began as we spoke a few hundred yards from where the tent was pitched for those incredible days when Pastor Chuck Smith saw an unprecedented move of God when the “Jesus People Movement” began in Southern California.
I pointed out that she didn’t look like a hippie, and she laughed and replied, “Not any more. I cleaned up. I was later baptized at Pirate’s Cove at Corona Del Mar at one of the mass hippie baptisms.
“I was actually an atheist and became a Christian at sixteen and never looked back. At the time, I lived in a suburb of Los Angeles – about an hour away – and some people at my school brought me to the tent. They told me that Jesus was coming back and I got kind of frightened because I had never heard that before and I thought, ‘Wow, what if that is true.’ I’ve been looking for Him every day and still am today.”
Bonnie said that she didn’t make her initial commitment to Christ in the tent, but did so in the privacy of her bedroom.
“The next week, I went to the concert again on Saturday night and I walked forward,” she continued. “They were clapping as people went forward and I realized that all these people were praying for me, which was really impressive because I thought, ‘Why would these people do this? Why do they care?’ The love was so overwhelming and so I went forward and I gave my life to God completely in the tent.
“The change was dramatic for me. For the first time in my life I started reading the Bible I started in Matthew and by the time I got to Luke, I thought, ‘This seems like the same story over and over again. Is this whole thing like this?’ I began to be a serious student of the Bible. Then, shortly after this, a man came to my door and was selling Wycliffe commentaries and for $25 I bought one that was the best investment I ever made.”
Eventually, Bonnie was married and bore two lovely daughters.
“Sadly, my marriage ended,” said Bonnie. “You don’t expect these things, but it ended in divorce after twenty years and I had two teen-age daughters. So now I’m a single mom raising two daughters. I had started a private Christian school that I ran for a decade without compensation and that was quite an experience. It was a stressful, difficult, and challenging life for me at that time.
“Divorce always hurts your children. I hate divorce and so does God, but sometimes it’s inevitable and there is nothing else you can do.”
Bonnie was finding it difficult to make ends meet as a single mother, so she got a weekend job and ran the school during the week.
She went on to say, “On a whim, as I was leaving a mall one day, I saw a massage table on sale for a hundred bucks at a store closing and I went in, bought it and I had no idea why. I put it in the trunk of my car and I drove home and I thought that I better figure out what to do with it. So I took some massage classes at night. I felt when you’re going through a divorce; it’s such a grief process, so as long as you’re busy it helps. So I’m now working on the weekends, running a school by day, being a mother in the afternoon and evening, and going to school at night. So that was my stressful situation.”
Bonnie said that if that wasn’t enough to cope with, her home and school were burglarized and she lost everything that was precious to her, so she closed her school and went to live in Silicon Valley, California, with her sister, leaving her two daughters, both now with children, behind.
“My sister was one of those motherly sisters who was always taking care of people and I thought that I would go and stay with her and rest and recuperate for a while,” she said.
She said she eventually managed to get a job at a startup company called Google.
“I’d never even heard of the company, as I was not very computer literate and I didn’t use a search engine at the time,” said Bonnie.
“One day, I was told that Google was looking for a full-time massage therapist, so I answered the ad and it was really funny because when the recruiter called she was reading my application at the time and said, ‘You know what; we have the same address. I think you’re my new neighbor upstairs.’ I had just moved in and didn’t know anybody there. I did the interview and I got the job and worked there for five years. When I started, the company was very new and there were only forty people working there.
“The Google employee plan had much forethought in incorporating the therapeutic benefit of massage. It’s far more productive for the employees than a coffee break.
Bonnie Brown had the forethought to ask for stock options as part of her pay.
Then, on Aug 19, 2004, Google went public and Bonnie’s life turned around in an incredible way.
“When I first bought the stocks, they weren’t worth very much,” she said. “I actually bought some of them for a nickel. With the IPO (Initial Public Offering), they started out at eighty-five dollars a share and it just kept going up from there. As a person who has options, you have a holding period so you’re not allowed to sell for six months.”
“On Valentine’s Day 2005, while I was sitting at my computer, that was the day this lockup period was released and the people holding options were able to sell and so I pushed that button and I became a millionaire overnight.”
Bonnie then moved to Nevada and decided to retire, but found that didn’t work for her.
I started a foundation early on after I acquired the money. I had always done charity work and so now I knew I could do it in a bigger way and I could be hands on. That’s kind of what I spend most of my time on, besides managing my investments.”
So now, Bonnie travels the world investigating Christian ministries and when she is satisfied that they are worthy of support, she helps them. I am glad to say that for several hears now her Giigle Foundation has been supporting ASSIST, something that is deeply appreciated.
I have been working for the past couple years with B.A.S.E. Institute helping do research with Bob Cornuke– a former police investigator and SWAT team member- who is a biblical investigator, international explorer, and best-selling author who has conducted and participated in numerous expeditions in search of verifiable historic sites and artifacts from biblical history.
His explorations have included searching for the real Mount Sinai in Egypt and Saudi Arabia; exploring in Turkey with the late Jim Irwin (Apollo 15 astronaut and eighth man to walk on the moon) for the remains of Noah’s Ark; tracing ancient Assyrian and Babylonian flood accounts in the Zagros Mountains of Iran; following the trail of the Ark of the Covenant through Israel, Egypt and the Ethiopian highlands; and searching the seafloor off the coast of Malta for the anchors from Paul’s shipwreck as recorded in Acts 27. He and his team have found what they believe to be, with reasonable certainty, all four anchors from Paul’s shipwreck.
Bonnie then said that she has just returned from another exciting trip, this time to Israel, with Bob Cornuke who has released a book that is sparking international controversy. Called, “Temple: Amazing New Discoveries That Change Everything About the Location of Solomon’s Temple”, Cornuke makes the assertion that the Temples of Solomon and Herod are located in the City of David and not on the traditional temple mount platform.
“The trip was absolutely incredible,” said Bonnie. “I joined Bob and 25 other people to do research on a new project and teaching about the Temple location. We took the group under the City of David to a sanctuary that is not yet open to the public. It is 3,000 years old and was discovered by Eli Shukron, the archaeologist who also discovered the Pool of Siloam.
“I had a meeting with Avi Dichter, former head of Shin Bet, the Israeli Intelligence office and gave him Bob’s book and one for Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, his friend. Avi is running for Prime Minister next month.”
Bonnie went on to say, “I was privileged years ago to help a new TV station get started, ALKARMA TV. Recently, they showed me the thousands of responses to the gospel they have received over the last several years. I had tears in my eyes as I looked at so many letters written in Arabic from new believers in Jesus.
“I just returned from Israel where I met with the Clarion Project that produced the documentaries ‘Honor Diaries’ and ‘Beneath the Helmet’. The new film they are working on is about the persecuted church in the Middle East. I am happy to be helping them produce these great works.”
I then asked Bonnie if, looking back, she was ever mad at God for the problems she had gone through. “I’ve never been mad at Him because He’s never really done anything mean to me,” she said. “He’s always been there with me and I’m never upset with Him. People have done mean things to me and hardships have come along that I don’t think I deserved, and some I did deserve, but He’s my best friend; He’s my closest ally and so I have clung to Him and He has pulled me through as usual. It’s almost embarrassing how much God loves me.”
Bonnie Brown has released a warm-hearted, laugh-out-loud memoir about starting over. It is called, “Giigle: How I Got Lucky Massaging Google.”
She went on to say, “I’ve always journaled and so I was journaling while I worked at Google and it was a fascinating place to be. The culture there is quite unique and so people always asked me what it was like to work there. ‘You know you should write a book about this.’ So I did. It was such a cool experience for me, because being their masseuse; I had quite a different vantage point than the rest of the company.”
You can get the book at www.amazon.com.
1) With a man called Nissim on a dig in the City of David
2) Book cover
3) Bonnie in the Kidron Valley doing research for Bob Cornuke
4) Bonnie in Masada doing research