The Power of Sharing Your Story

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How to Boldly Share Your Story

The Secret to Connecting, Not Alienating

“I want to know how I can be a more effective leader for Jesus in my workplace,” said John’s friend.

I was asked to lunch by John Duisberg, the co-founder of Cooleaf and also co-founder and leader of the Grace@Work group at the Atlanta Tech Village. He told me he had a friend coming to town who was one of the men who influenced him into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

He said, “We did everything together. We were great friends. Our only difference was, he knew Jesus and I didn’t. Now our friendship has risen to a whole new level.”

After getting our meals from the buffet, I asked, “So how can I help you?”

I Met a Girl

He said, “I lead a sales team and sell myself. I am talking to employees, prospects, and clients every day of the week. I want them to know about Jesus. I’m just not sure how to go about it.”

“Why do you want them to know about Jesus?” I asked.

“I had a lot of success early in life. I was a gifted athlete. I played competitively in high school and college. I was a 6’5” quarterback and also a forward on our basketball teams. Upon graduation, I went into business and applied the same values of hard work and a competitive spirit. Success soon followed.

“Then I met a girl. The girl. She had a faith in Jesus that I just didn’t share. She also had a peace in life and a level of fulfillment which escaped me.

At 27, I was doing better financially than any of my peers but feeling empty about it. This girl, who is now my wife, showed me and talked to me about Jesus. She told me he came so I would have life to the fullest.

“She said, ‘You’ll never get what I have while on the path you are on. Yes, you will have worldly success but no lasting peace and fulfillment. This can only come from a relationship with your creator. But you have sinned by ignoring God, and that’s why you are separated from Him. You need a Savior. Jesus sacrificed himself so your sins can be forgiven and you will be reconciled to God forever.’”

Becoming a Witness

He told me, “It wasn’t long after that conversation I gave my life to Jesus, confessed my sin, and received him into my heart. My life has not been the same since that moment.”

“So you want to share this exciting story with all the people you work with?” I asked.

“Absolutely!” he exclaimed.

“This is what Jesus wants you to do,” I said. “Just before his ascension into heaven he said, ‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’ (Acts 1:8 ESV)

“He told us to be witnesses. He wants you to tell people what happened to you. He didn’t say preach. He told us to do what you just did for me. You told me your story. As Christians, we think we need to preach. Most of us aren’t equipped to do that. But all of us are equipped to tell our own story of how we encountered Jesus. And they are all great stories!

Share and Don’t Preach

“People are interested in your story...not your preaching. If you preach, you are telling people what they should do. This is a turn-off. The listener is thinking, ‘Who are you to tell me what to do or what to believe?’

“But when you tell your story, that’s way different. You can be sure your story will connect with the person you are talking to. The reason is, we are all the same. People are people. Our lives, our goals, our desires, our struggles, our challenges, and our successes are all the same. We want meaningful work. We want to be loved. We want to love. That’s why your story is so powerful.

“When you discovered and then received the love of God, you knew for the first time in your life what it means to be loved and to love. But it didn’t stop there. He gave your life meaning by being on-purpose for Him. This is why you wanted this lunch. You wanted to know how to be effective in this new role he gave you.

Here’s The Secret

“Look for opportunities to tell people your story. Even if it’s just bits and pieces. People are interested. God will use your story to change their lives, just like he changed your life and he changed mine.”

If you would like help in crafting your story, I know just the guy—Todd Miechiels. His ministry, the, is helping people like you and me develop our story and then capture it on video. He will take you on a spiritual journey which will bring you closer to Christ. It is a great experience and the next step in growing your ministry. Go to and watch the 2-minute video. Then contact Todd to find out more. Tell him Charlie sent you.

Charlie Paparelli is president of High Tech Ministries, angel investor and blogger. Twice each week email subscribers to his blog receive his thoughts on being a successful entrepreneur and Christian leader.

New Year. New You.

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You Are Better Than You Think

I watched all three seasons of The Guardian on Amazon Prime Video. It is a law drama created in 1999. It takes place in Pittsburgh. Great writing and also great acting. 

I am a fan of movies and TV series in which the main character grows from a not so great human being to a better human being. The Guardian accomplishes this with the character, Nick Fallon, played by Simon Baker.

In the very last episode, one of his mentors, Alvin Masterson, tells Nick quite unexpectedly, "You know, you are a better man than you think."

When I heard this a couple of weeks ago, it just hung in the air. It obviously stuck with me as I am writing about it. 

As I reflected on this sentence, I realize people who know me and love me have been saying this to me for years. 

For some reason, I never really heard it. I didn't want to hear it. But yet I can tell you each instance in which it happened. A dear friend told me this most recently at a Christmas party. Kathy tells me this all the time.

Why is it that I hear it yet deflect it? 

It is a high compliment which is humbling and causes self-reflection. But I must not want to believe it. Why?

In his first sermon of the New Year, Michael Youssef of Church of the Apostles talked about carrying the past into the future. Here are some quotes from his sermon.

"What happened last year does not matter."

"You are forgiven. Those sins are forgotten by God."

"Many of us want to go back to the past. Jesus says, don't go there!"

"The past and the future are connected. If you are always looking back, you are giving more weight to the past than the future."

"Burn the bridges of the past. Forget about it."
And then he went on...

"Face the future by trusting God."

"Keep your eyes on the audience of one."

Seeing myself as the man of the past has hobbled my witness as a disciple of Jesus Christ. I have an internal dialogue going on. 

"Who are you to think you should pray with people? 

"What makes you think God can use your story?"

"You are going to invite people to the High Tech Prayer Breakfast? You?"

Michael then talked about a story in the Old Testament from 1 Kings 19:19-21. It is here the great prophet of God Elijah approaches a man plowing a field, Elisha. 

He throws his cloak over Elisha signifying he is the next prophet. Elisha says goodbye to his father, immediately sacrifices the oxen and burns all the equipment which signified his prior life. He is only looking forward now. Called by God, he is a new man with new strength and a new purpose.

This was true for me. 

When I surrendered my life to Jesus, he threw his cloak over me. He said to me, "You know, you are now a better man than you think you are." 

2 Cor 5:17 I am a new man in Christ, the old is gone, and the new has come.

2018 is the year for the new man to trust in Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit within me. I need to think of the better man.


Charlie Paparelli is president of High Tech Ministries, angel investor and blogger. Twice each week email subscribers to his blog receive his thoughts on being a successful entrepreneur and Christian leader.

Your Ministry Needs Your Help


"I am not confident we will raise the money we need to raise this year," said the Director of Advancement to Dr. Bruce Wilkinson, President of Walk Thru the Bible.

My friend, Dr. Wilkinson recently told me this story. He said it was 2008, the year of the market crash. Housing values plummeted, and each day the Dow was setting new daily lows. The nation was feeling poor. Collectively, our net worth declined by 35%.

This was the climate when his Director of Advancement approached him with this warning.

"Why do you say that?" Bruce asked.

"I've been talking to some of our bigger donors, and I am getting the feeling they will be pulling back. If the big donors are reducing their commitments to us, then the smaller donors will follow," he explained.

“We have only one donor," Bruce said.


"God!" Bruce declared.

"He called us to this work. Our job is to please Him. We do this, and we will be fine,” he continued.

They hit their fundraising goal!

I'm struggling with fundraising as the leader of the High Tech Prayer Breakfast.

Just last month I was in our quarterly board meeting. I gave these wise and godly men an update on 2017 and outlined the strategy and goals for 2018.

Then I told them we need to raise over $60,000 from individuals. It sounded like a big number to me. But Bruce’s answer to his director of development keeps playing in my head.

God blessed our ministry mightily in 2017. I outlined 21 significant accomplishments of the ministry at the board meeting.

Most importantly we stayed on mission by advancing the Kingdom of God in our Atlanta tech community. People came to know Jesus.

2017 HTPB highlights

Many people became first-time table hosts. This is big. These are leaders in the Atlanta tech community who stepped out as ambassadors for Christ for the very first time in their lives.

The rest of the tables were covered by leaders who have been table hosts multiple times, some for twenty-five years.

Many of our guests, coworkers, and friends, over 1,400 total, heard the Gospel. And they heard it clearly and compellingly from two respected venture capitalists. 

Many also responded and committed their lives to Christ. Over two dozen told us this happened to them while others kept it in their heart.

Two hundred of our tech community attended Blitz Through the Bible. Many moved to Grace@Work groups after this event. People in our community are meeting and studying the Bible every week led by these great Bible study leaders. God is changing our community one man and one woman at a time.

Many stories shared encouraging the 80 plus HTPB leaders at the annual post breakfast celebration. We heard the stories of people who came to know Jesus at the breakfast. Their stories were a great blessing and encouragement to all of us. God is working through us.

Would you consider becoming a monthly donor?

The High Tech Prayer Breakfast and all the activity which comes from it accomplishes our mission. This is because of you.

We are the ministry, and the ministry is us. The High Tech Prayer Breakfast keeps each of us active in the Atlanta tech community for Christ. It is our personal ministry. 

Is there a better ministry to invest in than your own? 

If each of us gave $10, $25 or $50 per month, our goal would be achieved. 

The Prayer Breakfast, the leadership meetings, the Grace@Work partnerships and the encouraging leadership will continue with excellence.

More importantly, the truth Jesus spoke to all of us 2000 years ago will become a reality in all our lives. Make this your ministry. To paraphrase Nehemiah: We are doing a great work.

Please join me and become a monthly donor. Click here to join the community of monthly donors.

Merry Christmas!

Charlie Paparelli is president of High Tech Ministries, angel investor and blogger. Twice each week email subscribers to his blog receive his thoughts on being a successful entrepreneur and Christian leader.

How a Profound Question Changed My Perspective

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The Question I Now Ask

How Do Make Life About God (Not Me)?

I am sitting in church listening to a sermon from R.T. Kendall. He is the former Senior Pastor of Westminster Chapel in central London. He retired in 2002 after 25 years.

He asked the question, “What happened to the Gospel?”

He went on, “If you were not a Christian and were listening to the sermons of the preachers today, you would think the Gospel is about prosperity, health, and wealth. This preaching is no longer about God; it is about us. We don't serve God. He serves us.”

What Do I Get?

Then Kendall said, “The question we are asking ourselves when it comes to God is, ‘What’s in it for me?’”

This got me thinking about other questions I ask myself from time to time.

  1. Why go to church on Sunday?
  2. Why go through the trouble of getting the kids ready?
  3. Why should I attend a Grace@Work Bible study group?
  4. Why should I be a table host at the High Tech Prayer Breakfast?
  5. Why should I share my faith with my friend?

I can see now how churches have turned into marketing organizations. They speak to me first. They work hard to reach me where I am. And their message has settled into my subconscious.

I know, because when I am asked to do something for God, I find myself struggling. I’m asking myself, “Is this my market? Is the work consistent with my calling? Does this match my spiritual gifts? Am I qualified?” In effect, I’m asking, “What's in it for me?”

Do I Need Jesus?

Kendall was speaking on the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther and the Reformation (October 31, 2017). He said, “The question being asked by society back then was, ‘Am I saved?’ The question being asked today is, ‘Do I need to be saved?’”

Wow! I think he’s right. That is the question people are asking? It was the question I was asking before I became desperate enough to know I needed saving. 

Our Society’s Extra Step

There is an extra step our society seems to have inserted in the process. First I need to be convinced I am a sinner separated by God. And only after being convinced of that will I entertain the question, “Am I saved?”

He was right. The question has changed. It is now about me, a man who is in control of my destiny. “Why do I need to be saved? What’s in it for me? I seem to be doing fine.” 

So what does the church preach to attract those of us who are asking the question, “Do I need to be saved?” Preach a better life now. “With God, you can be richer, more successful, and healthier than you ever thought possible. That’s what's in it for you.”

Lose Your Life

Yet Jesus said, “If you want to be my disciple, you will pick up your cross and follow me. If you try to save your life, you will lose it. However, if you lose your life for me and the Gospel, you will be saved. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and lose his very soul.”

Having thought about this for a while, the question I am now asking myself is, “How do I make my life all about God and not me?” 

Charlie Paparelli is president of High Tech Ministries, angel investor and blogger. Twice each week email subscribers to his blog receive his thoughts on being a successful entrepreneur and Christian leader.


New monthly feature from the HTPB


October: Russ and Danielle West

Intentionally Helping Marriages Blossom

The leaders who host the Atlanta High Tech Prayer Breakfast are out there all year long. The Breakfast is just the beginning of their ministries. God called them to serve many different people in so many different ways. We will highlight one new leader’s ministry each month. Maybe they can serve you. Maybe you can serve with them.

This month we feature Russ and Danielle West. This couple ministers to married couples internationally through their site. Russ is a top gun software sales rep and so was Danielle. I met Russ before he met Danielle. He walked into a Grace@Work group I was leading. He shared a bit of his story and concluded by telling us his marriage just blew up! I won’t steal his thunder. He explains his story below. It’s gripping.

Take a look at their ministry by visiting their site. They are making a difference in many people’s marriages by sharing what it means to be intentional. Great content is the result of a heart for God and for married couples.

Charlie Paparelli
High Tech Prayer Breakfast

P.S. If you are a table host of the High Tech Prayer Breakfast and would like us to consider featuring your ministry, send me an email.

What is the ministry you are involved with? 

We have a marriage ministry that includes our marriage website In addition to the website, we are one of the leaders of our church’s marriage curriculum called Thrive that is taught once a quarter in either 8 or 12-week small group format. We also work with couples one on one.

Who does the ministry help?

Married couples. All types of marriages, ones that simply want to invest in their good marriage to make it better, ones who recognize they have been on parallel paths and need a road map back, and ones who are in crisis.

What impact have you seen through your ministry?

Restoration and excitement about a marriage that couples thought was not fixable. We have seen couples who have been married 40 years and thought they had a good marriage say they were able to take their marriage to a much greater place by implementing tools and processes to manage conflict, communicate better, understand how their past impacts their marriage, and forgive on a daily basis. We have also seen couples that were ready to give up on their marriage not only stay together but build a healthy, thriving marriage. 

What was the journey that brought you to be a part of the ministry?

We both have a passion for making our own marriage the best it can be and helping others with their marriage. When Danielle and I met, I had been divorced, and Danielle had experienced bad dating relationships. 

From the beginning, we were intentional about our dating relationship. As we started talking about marriage, we decided to go to counseling to understand what role we played in our past relationships that did not turn out well. After going to counseling for a year before our wedding, we made the commitment to go to counseling on a regular basis for the rest of our lives as we felt it would be one of the best investments for our marriage. We have now been going to marriage counseling for 14 years. 

As we learned to be intentional with our marriage, we decided to attend our church's marriage class. We were amazed by the curriculum and what we learned from the other couples, so we decided to go through the training process to become leaders. Most couples have never experienced transparent, vulnerable conversations in a group setting and do not want the group to stop meeting. 

Unfortunately, we could not continue meeting since we facilitate another group. This pain point of wanting to stay connected to each group caused us to come up with the idea of starting a marriage website to share what we have learned from 5 years of leading marriage small groups and 14 years of marriage counseling. Because we share the good, bad and ugly, the website is a private membership website, which means most of the content is behind a wall that requires your email and a password. We share resources and tools that have helped us significantly.

What impact has the ministry had on your own life, family, and marriage?

We both have a lot of emotional wounds (baggage) from our childhoods and past relationships. The ministry helps us stay intentional and focused on the process and tools to have a thriving marriage. It is a great form of accountability. We also are constantly learning something new that helps our marriage and enables us to help others. Growing up with a violent alcoholic father impacts the way I react to many interactions with Danielle in a very negative way. Counseling and the tools/processes we have learned from our marriage class have helped me immensely be the husband God wants me to be.  

Danielle came from a family where their style of conflict was shutting down and not discussing the issues. That method did not carry over very well into our marriage. Counseling is a hard science to measure success, but going from three days of not talking after an argument to now recovering within 20 minutes and most often in the moment is huge.

What were your concerns before getting involved? 

The vulnerability of putting our stuff online even with a password wall was significantly different than sharing our marriage journey face-to-face. The technical aspect of pulling off a membership website with no coding background. And the simple fear of “what if nobody joins us?” 

All that disappeared when I reminded myself that this is a website built for our kids in hopes that someday they will learn from our mistakes. We have a responsibility with this digital footprint we are leaving behind. Are we posting our lunch or the wisdom we’ve been blessed to learn?

How did God address those concerns? 

The measurable items we can easily point to are the 103 members who joined before we formally launched and a church in Florida who asked us to speak to their married couples. The immeasurable ones are the marriages who are thriving because of the principles we have shared with them and the ones who have recovered from crisis.

What surprised you after you started the ministry? 

How the simple tools we practice and the vulnerability in which we share have resulted in open, rich, transformative marriages.

What would be your pitch to someone interested in helping in the ministry or learning more about it? 

Successful marriages are intentional. We provide resources to help married couples make intentional investments in their marriage. Join us! 

How has the High Tech Prayer Breakfast impacted your ministry?

The High Tech Prayer Breakfast has been such an important part of our marriage ministry. When I was going through my divorce, I met three angels at a Grace@Work study led by Charlie Paparelli. These three (Robert DiCristina, Doug Legg, and Robert Campbell) had all been through a divorce and mentored me in how God would want me to handle the divorce process instead of doing it the world’s way. 

It was a very humbling journey, and their love, wisdom, and investment in me laid the groundwork for my passion to help other marriages. Also, Robert DiCristina ended up introducing me to Danielle. God works in such wonderful ways even in our brokenness. Finally, many of the people we have helped through our marriage ministry are members of the High Tech community. 


I don't need God. Why do you?


I Don't Need God

Why Do You Need God?

“I am always so impressed with John and his relationship with God. He meets with God first thing every morning. He reads the Bible and prays every day. I am trying to get there, but I am having trouble,” said Mike, an insightful entrepreneur.

We were in the Thursday Grace@Work Bible study at the Atlanta Tech Village discussing the story of Joseph in Genesis 41. What struck all of us was how much Joseph trusted God with his life. 

I said, “Your issue is not about setting aside time to be with God. Your issue, and my issue is a question of need. Do you need God?”

What Should I Say?

Mike had invited me to speak about my most recent experience in Uganda. I was in Uganda to teach people how to be Kingdom Minded Entrepreneurs. This was a one week conference called Youth Ablaze. We had 10,000 delegates attend. Most of them were poor and looking for hope and a better future. 

When I am asked to speak to this group of young people, I am immediately brought to my knees with questions. Who are these people? How can I possibly connect with them? What can I say to a young man or woman who grew up with nothing, has nothing, and now is looking for something? They are 22 years old, and their family has endured multiple generations of poverty. What can I say? What should I say?

I Have No Answers

Good questions. I have no good answers. This creates the need for God. There is nowhere else for me to go to get answers which I know will be right. So I go to God and to Pastor Elijah. This is a conference intended to transform Uganda from a nation requiring aid to a nation of donors. That’s the big vision. That’s transformation.

When I Feel Inadequate

During my preparation, I can tell you I feel small and inadequate. Give me an audience of prospective entrepreneurs in Atlanta, and I am big and confident. I get these people. They are men and women who are well educated and well resourced. They are surrounded by an environment that encourages big dreams and rewards them with mentors and money.

Not so in Uganda. So what do I say? What would you say? You have to put together seven presentations which will take them from knowing nothing to starting their own business. That’s the challenge!

I believe only God can do this. Pastor Elijah says it best: “These people and the presenting speakers were called to this conference before the world began.” That’s a big thought from a very big God. Nothing is an accident. We are all here, all there, for a purpose. 

This Creates Big Need

When I come home to Atlanta, I backslide in my relationship with God. I am capable here. I have resources. I have connections. I know my market. I have relevant experience. I know what I need to do. I don’t need God.

Our Struggle

Mike said, “When I get up in the morning, I’m thinking about selling. What doors do I need to knock on today so I can make sales and meet payroll? This thought dominates my thinking, not time with God.” 

I asked, “Did you ever find yourself the night before payroll is due and you didn’t have the money? Nothing left to do. No time to do it. Not enough money to make payroll. Did that ever happen to you?”

“No,” he said. “My efforts have always got me there.”

I understand this completely. And, too often, I am that way. But God wants a relationship with us in good times and bad. I need Him even (or especially) when I don’t think I do. Why is it we want a relationship with Him only after we come to the end of ourselves? 

Charlie Paparelli is president of High Tech Ministries, angel investor and blogger. Twice each week email subscribers to his blog receive his thoughts on being a successful entrepreneur and Christian leader.

Genesis: In the Beginning


In the Beginning...

How Blitz Through the Bible Began

I was tired but wired. I did my nightly routine of reading a couple of pages from a novel on my nightstand and then passed out. 

What I didn’t realize is my mind was working overtime on a seemingly intractable problem. I was the chairman of the High Tech Prayer Breakfast, and the year was 2009. 

The Problem

We wanted our table hosts to invite a subset of their High Tech Prayer Breakfast guests to a follow-up Bible study. But the table hosts just wouldn’t do it. There was never an issue with the table hosts sending invites for the breakfast, but a follow-on event invite got little cooperation.

I was awakened at 3 am. It came to me while sleeping. We were trying to solve the wrong problem. We had it backwards. The problem definition should be: How do we get our Prayer Breakfast guests to invite their table host to the next event? We were trying to solve this too simply. 

Compelling Event

I jumped out of bed and went to my home office. What event could we possibly create which would get this level of interest in our prayer breakfast guests?

In 1995 I had my first exposure to the Bible. I found it fascinating. It spoke to me personally. It revealed who God is and who Jesus is. I saw my life unfold in the family histories shared for close to four millennia. I was learning who I was with each page I turned. I never encountered any book like this. I was hooked.

I was fortunate back then to have some really gifted Bible study facilitators and mentors. These business people patiently brought me along and helped me find the answers to all my questions. They put up with my direct confrontations with love and maturity. Eventually, I wanted to learn more, to go deeper. They recommended I lead a Bible study. Me? I thought.

They left, and I took over. That was January 1995. Being a newbie at this Bible leadership, I invited other newbies to come learn with me. We weren’t sure how to learn the story of the Bible, so we started at the beginning. This is how we approached all the other books we read, so maybe it would work here too.

It turned out we were all former church goers. In traditional church services, they usually read an Old Testament passage and a New Testament passage. Most of us didn’t even know what Old Testament and New Testament meant. From our backgrounds, we’d all heard some parts of the Bible. We knew a couple of stories and characters. But none of us had any context on how it all fit together.

So we started together. We looked at the table of contents, went to the first page, and started reading. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Let the discussion begin. We fought about everything. But we would always remind ourselves, we are here to learn what the Bible has to say, not just voice our opinions. 

That first time through the Bible took a year. We didn’t read every page but covered enough in sequence to get the whole story. We loved it and wanted more. We invited a few other friends who were where we were a year ago. They, too, wanted to learn about the message of the Bible. We showed up every week and so did the newbies. What was cool is they thought we were Bible scholars!

We continued leading studies like this for over ten years. The interest from new people never died out. 

The Answer: Blitz Through the Bible

So what event might our prayer breakfast guests find compelling? I slept on this one too. Once again, the idea hit me in the middle of the night. Take these prayer breakfast guests interested in the Bible through the book in two hours.

No way. I thought. How do I condense a one-year curriculum into two hours? I discussed this with Matt Stevens who was the president of the ministry, and he thought it was a good idea. He said, “But you have to allow time for discussion, too.” 

“You’ve got to be kidding?” We compromised and made it a two-and-a-half hour session. 

We decided to do it two weeks after the 2009 High Tech Prayer Breakfast. I dedicated a solid week to cramming the one-year curriculum into a couple of hours. It was an exciting event attended by close to two hundred people. We even had the guests do all the Bible readings. 

The Promise

We’ll be doing Blitz Through the Bible on October 20th from 7-9:30 am. It is an invitation-only event just like the High Tech Prayer Breakfast. If you’ve been invited to the breakfast and are interested in attending Blitz Through the Bible, be sure to ask your host to reserve a seat for you. 

In two and a half hours, you will learn:

  1. The Bible’s origin and authors
  2. How the Bible is organized
  3. Understand the story of the Bible
  4. Meet the God of the Bible and his plan for men and women
  5. Come to understand yourself in a new way

I look forward to seeing you at the High Tech Prayer Breakfast and Blitz Through the Bible. It's a lot of fun, fast-paced, and informative. In two and a half hours, we will review a book which covers four millennia. Imagine that! 

Charlie Paparelli is president of High Tech Ministries, angel investor and blogger. Twice each week email subscribers to his blog receive his thoughts on being a successful entrepreneur and Christian leader.