I sat at my first High Tech Prayer Breakfast. It was a Friday morning, October 1, 1993. I was invited by a friend, Robert Campbell. He was a Senior VP with Stockholder Systems and later it’s CEO. I knew Robert for over 14 years. We grew up in the tech startup business together.
I Was Very Nervous
I don’t remember who else was at the table. I was very nervous, for a couple of reasons. There were over three hundred people at the Doubletree Hotel Ballroom, and I felt like I didn’t know any of them. For the last ten years, I was head down operating businesses in Atlanta and elsewhere. I knew no one in town.
The program started shortly after I arrived which eased my discomfort. The keynote speaker was Wes Cantrell, CEO of Lanier World-Wide a division of Harris Corporation.
I don’t remember anything Wes Cantrell said. As I think back, it was probably because I was so nervous that I couldn’t focus. When he finished his talk a guy named Bill Leonard got up to close the meeting. Robert leaned over to me and said, “This is the guy who founded the High Tech Prayer Breakfast."
Religion vs. Relationship
Bill talked about his relationship with Jesus Christ. He said, “It is not about religion. It is about relationship.” This hit me like a ton of bricks. I grew up Catholic, and I always thought my relationship with God was all about religion. This concept of a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ was brand new to me.
When Bill spoke about his relationship with Jesus, he teared up. He spoke in measured short sentences. Clearly. With downward voice inflection. The words he was saying struck me because it was clear his words had deep meaning to him.
After the Breakfast, I had a meeting with an investor friend. He asked, “Were you at the breakfast this morning?”
“Yes, I was,” I answered.
“What do you think about that Bill Leonard guy? Can you believe he was talking all that religion stuff? He is a commercial real estate broker for crying out loud,” he said.
I said, “I’m not sure I believe what he was saying, but he sure did. Do you believe in anything the way Bill Leonard believed in this Jesus he was talking about?”
“No. I guess not,” he said.
That’s when I decided I needed to meet with Bill. I told him I was looking for some office space. Then I said, “I was impressed with all the technology people who attended the breakfast. You seem to know everybody. I was wondering if you could introduce me to these Christian business leaders?”
Bill asked, “Would you be willing to attend a Bible study? It is a men’s group which meets every Friday morning at a restaurant near Perimeter Mall. You’ll meet a lot of the guys there.”
Making New Friends
What Bill didn’t know was that I was eleven months sober through AA. My AA sponsor told me I had to find new friends if I was to stay sober. Over my lifetime I had accumulated some great friends. The problem was, they were all heavy drinkers. Thus the sponsor’s advice. But how does a forty-year-old man make new friends? Bill was giving me the answer.
In preparation for the first Bible study of my life, I looked all over the house for a Bible. I found a discolored green Bible which Robert Campbell had loaned me over ten years ago. When I pulled it off the shelf, it was dusty, and all the pages were swollen. I must have dropped it in water at some point. But it was the only Bible I could find.
My nervousness for this Bible study exceeded my nervousness for the Breakfast. I pictured myself at a table with five guys all who knew what they were doing. I would be the only idiot who knew nothing, absolutely nothing, about the Bible.
6:45 AM Bible Study
I walked into the restaurant at 6:45 am and was greeted by the friendliest man on the planet. He introduced himself and gave me a warm handshake. He escorted me to the coffee station and began introducing me to the other men. As I looked around the dining room, there had to be over 60 men there. I felt better but still uncomfortable.
Week after week, those guys loved on me. They shared their lives with me. They taught me all about the Bible. They demonstrated to me what it looked like to have a personal relationship with God. I had never felt the warmth like that in any business meeting I attended. They loved me and understood me. We were all in technology, and we were all excited to learn about Jesus and each other.
Eight months later I gave my life to Christ.
Thanks to Robert Campbell. He never gave up on me. As ugly as I was to him about his faith over the years, he knew Jesus would do a miracle in my life. And the miracles continued.
It all started by accepting Robert’s invitation to a breakfast. That’s all I had to do. Unbelievable!
Act Now: Only 15 Tables Left
There are only fifteen tables left for this year’s High Tech Prayer Breakfast. Are you ready to watch Jesus do a miracle in a friend’s life? All you have to do is get a table then invite your friends. If you are interested in joining the leadership team by becoming a table host email Amie Hood, Director of the High Tech Prayer Breakfast.
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.