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Spiritual Life

Prayer Breakfast speakers discuss the power of faith

Photo By: Town Crier Staff Photo
Photo Town Crier Staff Photo

Three speakers from different parts of the world and diverse careers came together at Thursday’s Silicon Valley Prayer Breakfast in Santa Clara to share a common thread: How faith has had a profound impact on their lives.

Sanjay Poonen, a high-tech executive born in India, discussed how prayer helps in his leadership role. Jaida Im, a native of Korea, revealed how healing through prayer inspired a new life committed to helping others as founder of Freedom House. And Mark Joseph, a film producer and author born and raised in Japan, talked of prayer working in big, small and often random ways, and how power, influence and money should be used in the service of others.

Poonen, a Los Altos resident and executive at SAP Inc., spoke of a 42-year-old friend who felt tired one day, lay down to rest and died of a heart attack. It reminded him to “live my every day as if it were the last of my life.” Our days, he said, should be fulfilling, productive and dedicated to God.

Im recalled her 10-year struggle with severe migraine headaches that led her to the brink of suicide.

“I lost hope and the will to live,” she said of the horrific time, just five years ago.

So she prayed. A week later, a pastor came to her and prayed for her healing. Within a short time, she was healthy again.

“Everything purged out of my body,” she said. “My mind was crystal clear for the first time in a decade.”

She has not had a headache since October 2008.

A pharmacist in her previous career, Im was inspired to pursue new work helping others. She took on the pervasive issue of human trafficking. Im said this “modern-day slavery” is quite common locally.

“The San Francisco Bay Area is a big hub for human trafficking activity,” she said.

So in 2010, she founded Freedom House, which provides homes and after-care services for women rescued from human trafficking. Her nonprofit organization provides basic needs – shelter, food and clothing, Im said, along with “lots of love and care.”

Joseph, who worked on the development and marketing of such films as “The Chronicles of Narnia” and “The Passion of the Christ,” recalled how prayer has worked for him in ways both big and small. He found himself reading about Mayan culture and thought “Maya” would be a good name for the latest addition to his family, a baby girl. When he brought it up to his wife, she gave him a strange look. It turns out, Joseph said, that God had told his wife to tell him their new daughter would be named Maya.

In another instance, Joseph received a speeding ticket in Dixon, Ill., and was ordered to appear in court in person. Dixon was former President Ronald Reagan’s hometown. While there, Joseph immersed himself in Reagan’s legacy. His latest project is a biopic of Reagan.

Joseph said God’s hand also guided him into fixing a stubborn piece of equipment just minutes before an important presentation to investors.

“I believe prayer changes circumstances,” he said.

Joseph spent much of his time talking about using power in the service of others, describing how influence naturally follows power.

“Without power, there is little ability to influence,” he said, paraphrasing from the Bible.

Noting that “God shakes his head” at the selfish, Joseph said, “Power, influence and money are not ends to themselves. They’re fleeting. They have to be used in the moment.”

Joseph urged the 430 or so guests at last week’s breakfast to patronize films that best reflect their own values. If enough people do so, he said, Hollywood would respond.

The Silicon Valley Prayer breakfast, in its 19th year, was founded by a group of Los Altos couples in 1995. Los Altos resident Skip Vaccarello, who hosted the event and served as master of ceremonies, is chairman of the Silicon Valley Prayer Breakfast Leadership Team.

For more information, visit www.svpb.net.

Speakers at the annual Silicon Valley Prayer Breakfast, from left, Jaida Im, Mark Joseph and Sanjay Poonen, shared how faith has profoundly influenced their lives and careers.

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