As part of the 2015 Silicon Valley Prayer Breakfast, Kirk Perry, president of brand solutions at Google, encouraged Christians to continually seek God's calling for their life and offered up a reminder that even in the darkest of times, God is constantly redeeming His children.
The 21st annual event, which was held in Santa Clara, CA on March 13, was themed "Finding Your Calling" and was attended by over 700 people. According to the Prayer Breakfast chairman, Skip Vaccarello, the event is an opportunity for people to hear inspiring stories of how God is working in the lives of the speakers.
"[The breakfast] is open to all, regardless of where they are spiritually - from skeptics curious about faith to longtime followers of Christ," he said. "The event is a celebration of faith and prayer. Everyone is made comfortable, no matter where they are on their faith journey."
Perry, the event's keynote speaker, shared both his faith journey and his career journey with attendees, and explained how he continually strives to apply his faith to his everyday life. His inspiring speech received a standing ovation from attendees.
Despite growing up in a poverty-stricken home in Detroit, Michigan, Perry found success after graduating college and landing a job with Procter & Gamble, a multinational consumer goods company based out of Cincinnati. In the mid 90's, Perry, who by that time was married with several children, moved his family to South Korea, and then to Japan, where his success with the company grew even more.
"I was a self-made man," Perry explained. However, he knew something wasn't quite right. "I was more dedicated to my work than I was to my family," he recalled. "I remember I would leave for work before my girls would wake up, and I would get home after they were in bed. ..but I didn't see that at all."
Although his wife was a devout Christian, Perry said he didn't come to know the Lord until many years later, when his family was struck by an unexpected tragedy.
In 1999, Perry and his family moved back to Cincinnati. One day, while on a business trip to New York City, he received the news every parent dreads in New York City: his 6-year-old daughter, Carly, had been diagnosed with cancer.
"I remember frantically getting to the airport, and I finally got ahold of my sister-in-law on one of the payphones to find out what was going on. And I wasn't just weeping, I was sobbing because she was explaining to me what was going on," he recalled. "As I was sobbing, I remember feeling a hand on my shoulder..after hanging up the payphone, I turn around and see this little woman, 70ish years old, who didn't say a word, but just embraced me. Not just a hug, a bear hug. As I pulled away from her, tears streaming down my cheeks, she wiped the tears off, she rubbed my cheek, we never said a single world. I am convinced that God put an angel behind me on the payphone that day, to make sure that I knew that He was there with me."
A month later, it appeared everything was back to normal. However, just a few days after leaving the hospital, Carly once again became severely ill. Doctors informed Perry and his wife that their daughter would have to have more surgery and would likely need a colostomy bag for the rest of her life.
"[Finding out my daughter was sick] took it my breath away," Perry said. "There was nothing I could do at all." Fully understanding his helplessness and utter need for God completely changed the trajectory of his life.
"I understood God was chasing me--He was there, and He wanted a relationship with me," Perry said. "Can you imagine how God felt when Jesus was hanging out that cross, and Jesus was saying 'My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?' And God didn't stop Him..He had the power to, but He chose not to. That's how much God loves us."
Following his daughter's miraculous recovery, and after becoming a Christian, everything changed for Perry. His career took off, his relationship with his wife and children deepened, and his desire to be a "workplace missionary" grew. A few years later, however, Perry began to have a nagging feeling that God wanted him to do something more. Either he could choose to continue the path he was on and have a chance to become the CEO of Procter & Gamble, or try something different.
A short time later, Perry was provided with the tremendous opportunity to work at Google. However, that would mean transplanting his family and leaving behind their family and friends. After spending time seeking God's will through prayer and meditation, Perry took a leap of faith, accepting the job at Google and moved his family to California.
I said, "Okay, if God really wants me to take this job, then being a faithful follower of Him means that I'm not going to put my faith under a box. I'm going to be who I am all the time," he recalled.
After transitioning to Google and to the Bay Area, Perry was blown away by the numerous opportunities he encountered to share the Gospel with others, including a colleague whose daughter was battling cancer.
"People 30 years from now aren't going to remember how much you sold or what your margins were," he recalled. "People won't remember how successful you were in business. They'll remember their relationship with you. Did you inspire them to do something bigger and better, and did you leave an imprint on their heart?
Just three weeks before appearing at the Prayer Breakfast, Perry was diagnosed with cancer. Although his doctor told him the cancer is treatable and operable, Perry recalls feeling angry with God.
"I [told God] 'I've been through this before...You ripped us out of a place where we were comfortable and I'd rather be at a place where I was so comfortable and feel like people could rally around me," he recalled.
However, God once again used the experience for His glory, from the outpouring of love and support Perry received to the opportunities he was provided with to comfort others also experiencing tragedy.
"God took another tragedy and turned it into a triumph....and it completely flipped my state of mind, Perry said. "I believe in a redeeming God, and that's gonna will use this to glorify him. I believe that through this story, it's going add another chapter to my life so that I can be a further witness for God....And I can tell you with 100% certainty that God loves us incredibly."
In his closing statements, Perry reminded his listeners to continually seek God's will for their lives and remember four very important things:
1) God is always with you-you just have to have your eyes open to it. God uses even the worst situations to redeem His children.
2) God cares more about your character than your comfort. He wants to build us into the image that he wants
3) God never gives you more than you can handle
4) God always has a better plan for you than you do for yourself.