By Dick Stark
To no one’s surprise, this year’s High-Tech Prayer Breakfast (HTPB) was held virtually. Although I missed having a real breakfast, the message, “The Reality of Reconciliation: What is our role in bridging the gap of division in America,” was an antidote to these racially divisive times. The HTPB is an organization centered around bringing the gospel of Jesus to the business community in DC and Northern Virginia and annually hosts a breakfast in the December timeframe usually where one or two leaders discuss how Jesus impacted their lives. Moderated by Lee Self, a business consultant, here’s a brief report:
Joshua Symonett, a pastor, leadership consultant and former NFL football player kicked things off by discussing bridge building, which he described as uncomfortable but work that helps break barriers. Joshua’s parents didn’t have the opportunities he had and placed him in diverse environments so he could understand the world better. Joshua pointed out, “The American dream is not about comfort. Reconciliation must be about sacrifice. Jesus put himself in an uncomfortable position and look at what Jesus had to deal with–sacrifice. These interactions are critical if we have a unified future.”
Up next was Steve Park, founder and executive director, Little Lights, a non-profit that empowers under-served youth and families in Washington DC. Steve discussed how both healing and unity are needed. He teaches a class, Race Literacy 101 which confronts race history and helps Christians understand the history of race and why we are so divided. Now his classes are full. Steve exclaimed, “Education makes people realize that we are not a post-racial society as we have hoped. We have to do the hard work of understanding why we are so divided. There is worked to be done and singing kumbaya is not the answer.”
Also inspiring was Travis Mason, technology leader with years of experience designing effective regulatory and public policy strategies for emerging technologies. Travis told a story about a Russian experiment that put six people together in the desert for a 520 days to simulate long space voyages. The findings included: It is the small details that matter and it is the connections between “you and your neighbor” that matters more than anything. It is not the money spent on the spacecraft. Travis concluded, “The investment you make on relationships with people is more important than on the spacecraft…. When we think of the current situation, for example, COVID, diversity/divisiveness it reminds us that we are all on this spaceship together. COVID moves and shifts…Our future is incumbent on how we interact with each other.”
My prayer for 2021 is for healing, not just from COVID but from the racial divisiveness of 2020. Let’s lean and move forward to a deeper sense of unity in 2021. Happy New Year!