Orange County, Calif., Aug 14, 2016 / 04:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- For twenty-five years, Tom Riles has carried a stack of index cards in his shirt pocket. On the cards, in his neat, all-caps handwriting, Riles scrawled scripture verses and affirming quotes in blue and black and red ink to inspire him throughout his day.
That’s because 25 years ago, Tom Riles had a bad attitude. After being rejected for a job scraping gum off the sidewalks with a powerwasher in his then-hometown in New Jersey because of his attitude, Riles realized something needed to change. “My attitude was way out of whack,” he told CNA. “And then somebody gave me a book called ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’ by Norman Vincent Peale.”
Peale, a Christian, encouraged readers to write down inspirational quotes to reference throughout the day in order to change their thinking and ultimately their lives. Since following that advice, Riles, now a 67 year-old grandfather of 10, has never been the same. “I trained myself to use these positive affirmations to bring me into God’s presence throughout the day, and when we’re in his presence, we experience peace and joy,” he said.
That’s why Riles wants to turn the idea of his index cards into an app that people throughout the world can use. Four years ago, Riles started using his smartphone to schedule alerts with affirmations throughout the day. When Riles told this to his friend from church, app developer Aaron Horvath, he suggested they create an app.
The pair launched a Kickstarter campaign last month to raise $30,000 to build a free mobile app that will send out positive messages and affirmations, at a frequency that the user selects. “Tom is proof that technology is not just for over-caffeinated millennials,” Horvath told The Orange County Register. “If you have an idea, a passion and funding, there are no boundaries in the world of technology.”
The name for the app is OnPath, because of how the quotes can bring a person back into the presence of God and keep them on the right path throughout the day, Riles said. For himself, Riles said his cards help remind him of God both during ordinary daily life and before big events, like when he was taking a test to become a captain of a fishing boat on the Jersey Shore. His daughter used them before she took her boards test to become a nurse. And fifteen years ago, when Riles was diagnosed with a serious blood disorder, he was able to recall the presence of God even in the midst of a life-altering diagnosis.
During a routine physical, Riles found out that his body was producing too much blood. Having never donated blood before - “I was always too busy and I hated needles” - Riles had to have some of his excess blood taken out immediately. While sitting in the recovery room snacking on the typical juice and cookies, Riles saw the nurse discard the blood, which he thought might have been used to help other people.
“When I saw they threw my blood in the garbage, I almost choked on my Lorna Doone, and I said what are you doing?” But because Riles’ blood contained too many red blood cells, it had to be discarded. “So I got down on my knees at that moment and I said Lord Jesus, I want to thank you...for bringing me to this point in my life. I don’t even know what’s going on yet, but through your mercy and your love, you will bring good out of this to others.”
Ever since, Riles made it his mission to organize blood drives and inspire others to donate blood. “Fifteen years and 200 pints of my blood in the garbage can ago, and through the grace and mercy of God, I am still alive...and God is inspiring me through these affirmations and scripture passages to speak to other people who are inspired to donate blood to save other people’s lives.”
The process of building the app has just begun, Riles said. “It takes a village to build a mobile app,” he said. He still needs backers to reach the necessary funding of $30,000, as well as additional quotes and, of course, prayers so that all goes according to God’s will.
“I’m asking people to send me some quotes that have been meaningful to them, that have given them peace and joy and drawn them closer to Christ over the years.” A couple of Riles’ favorites include: “I believe I am always divinely guided, I believe I will always take the right turn in the road, and I believe God will always make a way where there is no way.” He also loves Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Riles said he’s been very humbled to be involved in the process of creating an app at his age - “My kids think it’s a hoot. When I’m on the computer it’s like watching 4-hour paint dry.” But every time he’s tempted to think “Why me?” he changes his tune to “Why not me, by the grace of God?” he said. “By the grace of God, this app will be getting onto the phones of people all over the world so that when they get these affirmations, it will become a tool for bringing peace, joy and abundant blessings that come from being drawn into God’s presence.”