Matti Saarnivuo

The Puzzle of a Lost Wallet

Matti ja Pipsa Saarnivuo

Matti Saarnivuo had returned from a business trip in Germany and was exhausted. As a sales manager at a pharmaceutical company, he travelled a lot and now he did not want to go anywhere.

Upon arriving home his wife Pipsa, however, suggested that they should go see Billy Graham at the Olympic Stadium. Matti’s niece had told them about this opportunity.

– My contact with the church had been weddings, christenings, and funerals. As a child, my mother taught me the evening prayer and put us in Sunday School, but that was it, Matti explains.

Soon Matti found himself sitting next to his wife at the stadium in the warm August sunshine.

– I listened to Billy Graham’s speech, and the text began to hit. I had a good, calm feeling inside me! – There I was and felt in no hurry. When Billy Graham called those who wanted to give their life to Jesus to the lawn in front of the platform, Pipsa and I both stood up and went.

People from all over the stadium flooded to the platform. Billy Graham prayed at the front and we repeated the prayer together. The counselors handed out cards to those who wanted to be contacted by the local church.

– After a few days I was called by the Tuusula church and was invited to join a new men’s small group. I was doubtful, but nonetheless decided to go. At the beginning of September that first meeting will be 30 years ago and our small group still meets, Matti smiles.

It was found

The first meeting of the small group was on a Thursday night. The next morning Matti had to pick up a coworker from the airport and continue with him to a company marketing meeting.

When I left, I did not find my wallet anywhere. I looked for it in all possible places, and Pipsa looked through the car. I drove to the church hall, but the wallet was not there either. So I had to leave for the airport without my wallet. When Matti had decided to go to the men’s small group that night before he had also decided that it was a private matter so he didn’t want to tell anyone about it.

When the coworker that I was picking up came to the car I told him about the disappeared wallet. We looked for it once more in car, but in vain. The colleague asked where I had been the night before and if the wallet might have been left there. I replied that I had been at the church in a men’s small group. Matti realized that now it was said and would become public knowledge. When they had been driving for a few minutes, the sun appeared and its ray hit Matti’s eyes from somewhere between the bushes. And all of a sudden there was the wallet, open. The beam of sunlight had found the golden credit card.

– We both stared at each other with astonishment. We had searched the car, but we had not found the wallet, and now it was there. I cannot explain this, but I believe that the loss of the wallet made me talk about my new life. When I opened the marketing meeting that day, I told everyone in the meeting hall about it.

 window opens up

In the marketing world in the 1970’s and 80’s, alcohol was usually a normal part of business meals. When Matti’s new life came to the attention of everyone he did not have to explain when he decided to stop drinking. He was 37 years old and still strong at the time, but he thought that if he went on with his old way of life, it would not be good for his body, his work ability, and his human relationships. The best thing he could do was to change everything and give drinking up completely so he would not have to think about it any more.

“After I made this decision, I thought I would have to explain to our guests why I offered alcohol to them and why I did not drink. Surprisingly, I did not have to explain it and no more was said about it.”

Matti’s career progressed step by step and he ended up as executive vice president of the company. Now after retiring, he believes that he would not have been able to work all these years without the inner peace and guidance of his faith. He could take difficult things to Jesus in prayer and trust that He would take care of them according to His promises.

Finding faith does not mean that life becomes easy. Problems and pain are a part of life, but with Jesus it is different from the life before.

When Matti began to read the Bible, he also began to see his own mistakes.

The word of God illuminates and opens a window to yourself. At first I was depressed when I noticed the disadvantages of myself (Jussi, I am not sure what he is trying to say here. Did he mean that he could see the error of his ways?. Then I thought it was like an alarm clock: I could see the state of things and say, okay, this is how things are and what can be done about it now.

Retirement has meant a conscious calming down for Matti. The greatest new great thing in his life are his grandchildren. His house even has a room called the “children’s playroom.” “The room is littered with their toys all around,” Matti laughs.

Matti Saarnivuo continues to be a member of the Tuusula Rotary Club after his retirement. As far as the men’s small group is concerned he says, “I will not leave it before time leaves me” as he smiles.