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Spiritual Life

Silicon Valley Prayer Breakfast highlights matters of faith

Pat Gelsinger and Reggie Littlejohn come from different backgrounds and occupations, but both, guided by their Christian faith, have become leaders committed to helping others. The two shared their experiences at the 20th annual Silicon Valley Prayer Breakfast March 28 at the Hyatt Regency in Santa Clara.

Gelsinger, CEO of VMWare Inc., is an executive whose resume includes a stint at Intel Corp. under the tutelage of founder Andy Grove. Gelsinger rose from Pennsylvania farm boy to talented electrical engineer and high-tech innovator. He admitted that panelists at his initial job interview at Intel referred to him as “smart, aggressive and arrogant” and concluded, “He’ll fit right in.”

Outside of work, Gelsinger is a devoted family man who answers to his faith and his wife. He chronicled balancing his faith, family and career in his autobiography, “The Juggling Act: Bringing Balance to Your Faith, Family and Work” (David C. Cook, 2008), which he offered at no charge to the 650-plus guests attending the breakfast.

Christians, Gelsinger said, are supposed to prioritize God first, then family and then work.

“Most of us put work first, then family and God – just the opposite,” he said.

Referring to what he called “radical philanthropy,” Gelsinger said he donates 40 percent of his annual income to charity. But Silicon Valley, the wealthiest area in the world, taken as a whole, is downright stingy, he said. He reported that the Silicon Valley elite donates less than 4 percent to charity, lagging behind the state average and behind the national average of 5 percent. He challenged audience members to become more committed to their faith and to help change Silicon Valley’s reputation as a place of “wealthy misers.”

Los Angeles native Littlejohn grew up living a secular lifestyle, driven completely by her ambition to achieve success as a corporate attorney. While she accomplished her goal, two miscarriages and a five-year period marked by serious illness changed her perspective. She found new inspiration through God and a new challenge after learning of the plight of pregnant women in China forced to have abortions under the country’s one-child law. Speaking with emotion, Littlejohn described how Chinese officials grabbed women off the streets and forced abortions on them, sometimes without anesthesia. Littlejohn formed the nonprofit Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, dedicated to providing help for those women trying to stay one step ahead of the family-planning police.

Los Altos resident Skip Vaccarello, master of ceremonies and chief organizer of the annual event, recognized Town Crier publishers Paul and Liz Nyberg as two of the early founders of the Los Altos Prayer Breakfast, which has expanded to include all of Silicon Valley. The prayer breakfast’s goal has been to present motivational speakers who have not lost sight of their faith as they pursued successful careers in business.

For more information, visit svpb.net.

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