23 Sep 2015

It didn’t matter where Joshua Corda looked—at signs, number plates, clocks or speedometers—the same numbers kept popping up everywhere. What did they mean? Was the universe trying to tell him something?

Brought up Catholic, Joshua stopped attending church in his teens. He became interested in conspiracy theories and gradually lost confidence in Christianity.

“People said the world was going to end in December 2012 [when the Mayan calendar ended] and it made me start asking questions,” he says. “Is this true? How can I survive and save the people closest to me?”

He began consulting with clairvoyants, tarot card readers and white witches. Their answers didn’t satisfy him. 

What do you do when nobody can answer your questions?

Joshua decided he needed to develop psychic powers himself.

“I began studying the New Age movement,” he says. “I was at the home of some New Age healers and they offered me a book. I was given the choice between a book on Rosicrucians and a book called The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was probably my Catholic background but I was drawn to the latter.”

The book, published in 1908, is touted by New Agers as a transcript of mystical knowledge concerning the 18 years of Jesus’ life not mentioned in the Bible. 

Ironically, it was through reading the book that Joshua first learned about the Sabbath—and Adventists.

“I read the Ten Commandments in this book, particularly the fourth which I hadn’t really noticed before, and saw it mentioned the Sabbath,” he says.

He looked up “Sabbath” in an encyclopedia and learned that it fell on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. He also discovered most Christians had adopted Sunday as their day of rest but that Seventh-day Adventists, a Christian denomination, still kept the seventh day holy.

“I remember wanting to keep the Sabbath because I was inspired,” Joshua says. “But I didn’t know how to do it.” 

Joshua was doing some landscaping work with his father at Mangrove Mountain (NSW) when his dad mentioned that a family friend attended a nearby ashram.

Joshua’s ears immediately pricked up. He had become interested in yoga and was eager to learn from master yogis. 

The ashram was 40 minutes from his home and the courses were a week long at most. This didn’t appeal to Joshua, who had his heart set on something further away and with a longer duration of study. He learned they had a sister ashram in Victoria that offered a 10-week yogi course and decided to go there instead.

On his way to the ashram he noticed the numbers 333 on various number plates. 

“New Agers believe there are meanings attached to recurring numbers,” he explains. “I saw these numbers all the time and believed it was confirmation I was on the right track in my quest for answers. I was looking for answers everywhere—except God.”

Joshua stayed at the Victorian ashram for four months and then went on to an ashram in India, living what he describes as “the yogi lifestyle”.

“People treat yogi gurus like gods . . . it was something new for me to observe their level of devotion to these people,” he recollects. 

When Joshua returned to Australia he joined the WWOOF (Willing Workers On Organic Farms) scheme, in which people volunteer on farms and receive food and accommodation in exchange for labour.

“I met Delphine at the second property I visited,” he says. “She was an interesting mixture of spiritual orientations—she identified as a clairvoyant, Buddhist and Christian!”

Delphine offered Joshua a place to stay and introduced him to Tibetan Buddhism. Soon he was doing volunteer work at the Buddhist centre she attended.

“Buddhism never made sense to me,” he says. “They don’t believe in God as Creator but they do believe in deities and universal laws. I tried to ask them who put those laws in place and they couldn’t tell me. Buddhism didn’t answer the questions I had—it only created more.”

One afternoon Delphine picked Joshua up after his volunteer work at the Buddhist centre. He glanced at the dashboard and noticed the time: 3:33pm.

“There are those numbers again!” he exclaimed aloud. Delphine looked at him strangely.

“I told her about the numbers, hoping she might be able to help shed light on what they meant,” he says. “She told me to be patient because the significance might reveal itself to me in time.” 

Joshua wouldn’t have to be patient for much longer. His answers weren’t far away.

Joshua (centre) with Gaya (left) and Delphine

Joshua (centre) with Gaya (left) and Delphine.

When Delphine’s mother Gaya, an Adventist, came to visit, Joshua asked her what Adventists believed.

“We believe the seventh day of the week, which is on Saturday, is the Sabbath,” she replied. In that instant Joshua remembered what he had read in the encyclopedia.

Not long after Gaya’s visit, it was her birthday and it happened to fall on Sabbath. Delphine and Joshua decided to visit Gaya’s church that day.

Sabbath School had started by the time they arrived so Gaya took Joshua downstairs and introduced him to the pastor, explaining that Joshua was on a spiritual journey.

They talked for a while until the pastor unexpectedly asked, “Joshua, would you like to know God’s telephone number?”

Joshua was bewildered. Was this some weird Christian thing? But he decided to go along with it anyway. “Sure!”

The pastor looked into his eyes and slowly said: “Jeremiah 33:3.”

Joshua froze. There were those numbers again!

He stared at the pastor in disbelief. “You don’t know what those numbers mean to me.”

The pastor looked up the verse in the Bible for him: “Call unto Me and I will answer you. And I will show you great and mighty things which you know not.”

That afternoon, on a bushwalk, Joshua met another woman. As they talked, the woman shared that she also had the same numbers recur in her life. Joshua was stunned. He immediately shared what he had learned in church that morning.

That night he went home and lifted his heart up to God in prayer.

Joshua quickly lost interest in the New Age and began hungering for a deeper knowledge of God. The door was opened for him to go on a mission trip to Thailand and help build a Bible college. During his time in Thailand he was convicted to commit his life to God and was baptised on October 16, 2010.

“My family were worried that I had joined some weird cult,” he laughs. “But God is good. He answered my prayers—my mum and dad were baptised on September 27 last year.” And Delphine? “She was rebaptised into the Adventist Church too.”

And as for mystical numbers? Joshua has learned that a life lived in Christ isn’t about secret codes, it’s about the open acceptance of Jesus.

Vania Chew s PR/editorial assistant for Adventist Record.