For Doug Harris, franchisee of over 20 Papa John’s Pizza Restaurants peppered across Tennessee, USA, the first miracle came as a phone call.
“I was sitting in my office one day,” he begins. “I think this was in May, and I got a phone call from a guy who was really just an acquaintance. And he called me and said,
“I said, ‘Hey, yeah, what’s going on?’
“And he said, ‘I’m sitting here in Africa and there’s a little boy here that wants to know if I know a Doug Harris that has some pizza stores.’
“I said, ‘What?’
“He said, ‘Yeah, he’s sitting here and he says he knows a Doug Harris’.
“I said, ‘Where are you?’
“He said, ‘I’m in Kampala, Uganda.’
“I said, ‘You’re kidding.’
Then it occurred to Doug. He had been sponsoring a little African boy for about three years. He had been asked to do this by another friend who had been working in Kampala, Uganda. He received a letter from the boy once a year and says he probably prayed for him at some point. But then he just got too busy with, you know, pizza.
Doug says this first miracle – the phone call about the young boy in Uganda – was God’s way of reminding him about the importance of relationships and how we should love one another.
“That was the start of it. Then there was more confirmation as we went along. There was just miracle after miracle that just lined up, that had to be from the Lord. That really was the confirmation, I think, that I was doing what God wanted me to do.”
“It is really hard to explain, but you just have that thing. I just knew. In my relationship with God, he talks to me and tells me stuff everyday.
Just two months later in July 2008, after deeply considered consultation with an elder at his church, Doug and four of his closest colleagues were on a flight to Kampala. In the coming years, Doug would make this trip at least 16 times, help start over 20 local businesses, create countless jobs for African entrepreneurs, and eventually engineer what he claims is the world’s best water filter.
Doug’s filter would also come to be used as a tool for spiritual conversion.
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This story features in The Human Geographic Vol 1. 2014 Miracles – a digital documentary magazine sharing intimate stories about people and place.