Passion Talks have been hosted at Stanford University, Berkeley, and now Google and Convergence House of Prayer. We have a record breaking number of talks and had to turn away more than ever before. This is the fourth annual Passion Talks Conference that spans two days with close to 40 different talks. Speakers are flying in from different parts of the US with quite a few local talks from Stanford, Berkeley, UCSC, Google, Facebook, Apple and many more with topics spanning through medicine, technology, education, humanities, social justice, economics, etc. Friday’s talks are invitation only. Registration is now opened for Saturday’s talks:
Come join us for the biggest ever Passion Talks event where speakers talk about how their faith motivates their passions and how their passions inform their faith!
The main website for the event is here: pt16.passiontalks.org
Below are the list of talks and their abstracts (click here for a more detailed schedule):
|5 Things People Most Want from God||What do Christian’s digital behaviors reveal about what they want from God? The Abide prayer app has tracked over 20,000,000 engagements with prayer to study motivations and behaviors for engaging with God. This study finds questions of identity and emotional needs at the top of Christian desires to engage with God.||Neil has a passion for innovation serving the Gospel and humanitarian needs. He co-founded Carpenters Code and serves at it’s chief evangelist. Neil also helped launch the global Code for the Kingdom hackathon series. Previously, he managed new business development for a variety of products and projects at Google, including new ad platforms and market development in Africa. Before Google, he was the Darfur / Chad refugee program manager for the U.S. Department of State, and served in hotspots across Africa for Food for the Hungry. Neil has Masters in quantitative economics and policy from Princeton University.|
|An invitation for Christians to engage with LGBT issues||What does it mean to be a Christian educator teaching LGBT university students with a “Gender and Education” curriculum that assumes LGBT issues are a civil right? In this talk, the speaker shares her reflections on being a Christian whose professional responsibilities requires her to wrestle with faith, truth and integrity in the educational context of LGBT issues. The implications of the talk go beyond the classroom: the speaker invites us to begin our personal journey of Christian engagement in a society where the worldview on gender increasingly diverges from Biblical truth.|
|Anxious Insides: Relating to Homes and Interiors in the Viking Age and Now||Some of my more interesting research of the last few years has focused on the figure of the home/interior in the Old Norse sagas. This work in turn exposed me to the rich variety of thought in contemporary theory on “space” and “place” in human society and culture. Whether we are talking about the Viking halls of the sagas or the mass produced houses of late capitalism, the home seems to be an eternal focus for our anxieties, our sense of belonging, our sense of distinctness from our environment and communities, etc. Tied to this we often find the metaphorical conflation of the home with the body, certainly evident in the Norse material, and also suggestive of a productive parallel in the life of the early Church, which, as is still the case in many countries, met in homes, rather than dedicated church buildings. The Church is also, right from the start, known as the body of Christ, an identity mandated and exercised through the account of the Last Supper and the liturgy of Communion. Unlike the Classical ideal of a closed, perfect body, the body of Christ is notoriously open, a grotesque body as Ola Sigurdson puts it in his book on the topic–this is a body, and the Church is a space, in which all are welcome, in which the identities that divide us, while not denied, are transcended in the body that was broken for us and in the radically open community of the Church.||I filed my dissertation at UC Berkeley in 2009 on ekphrasis in Viking age poetry, going on to teach at Berkeley, Gustavus Adolphus College, UCLA, and then back again at Berkeley. My talk here deals with my research of several years ago for an article to be published in a volume of the Nordic Literary Histories project. In 2014-15 I translated the book Heavenly Bodies by Ola Sigurdson, dealing with the theology and philosophy of the body, and which I also reference in this talk.|
|Connected Universe The Sixth Sense||Why do robots have antennas on their head? Ever thought of a distant friend, only to have a text message arrive a few moments later? Why do we strive for better, faster, clear communication through technology? Is it an inherent need we as humans are “hard wired” for? Connected universe and the sixth sense will explore humanities art and actions over time and try to connect the dots with what we feel and sense when “thinking” about our connected universe.||Technology and deep thinking are a passion that takes me down the rabbit hole asking questions about simple things intersecting with technical ways. At an early age I took things apart to see how they worked and would often stick wires in the wall socket shocking myself to a higher level of understanding, pain, and not to do that again.
Living the proliferation of technology first hand from before the first dot.com boom, second, and now the third boom, I’ve connected faith and tech with amazement and appreciation.
|Creating justice systems to fight slavery and rights abuse||Eight years ago I was shocked to learn that millions of people are enslaved. I joined 14 others to bike 1800 miles of the Underground Railroad, cycling from Alabama to New York to help raise awareness. Along the way leaders from International Justice Mission shared stories that made the magnitude of slavery that much more tangible. But the hope that surrounds this issue became even more real. In response to God’s call to seek justice, IJM is driving structural transformation to combat slavery and other forms of violence. Violence preys especially on those living in poverty, undermining efforts to alleviate hunger and homelessness. The poorest are most vulnerable because their justice systems do not protect them from violent people. In partnership with local authorities, IJM rescues and restores survivors and helps build justice systems to fight future abuse. Cycling the Underground Railroad reminded me that freedom from fear is possible when we take a stand.||As a marketer at Google, Clara works with teams globally on brand initiatives, social impact marketing, and crisis response. She has written articles published on human trafficking, led advocacy events, and will join the board of the Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition this summer. Originally from Louisiana, Clara is a graduate of Stanford where she studied History and English and served as president of a journal of Christian thought.|
|Daddy’s Girl||I want to share my personal journey and encounters on how God, who is first and foremost a loving father has turned me around from being an ambitious independent person to His Holy Daddy’s girl, sweetly changing all of me to what true success is all about. He is calling His sons and daughters home to where we belong so we can do exploits together that matter for eternity.||~22 years working in the computer industry working for a big computer manufacturing company. The early years of my career was focused on computer engineer work. I was involved, for example, in developing the early phases of computer chips viable for laptops. I then combined my interest in technology to marketing and then eventually found that I loved being part of corporate strategy on how to work with other companies to provide a better solution for customers hence, the business side of the industry. For the last 15 years I have been focused on driving business alliances worldwide with software and hardware partners from data center to consumer companies like Oracle, Microsoft, Intuit, SAP, Real Networks etc. I have also developed a deep interest on promoting social entrepreneurship so that many can benefit from the digital age.|
|Disability is not Inability||Having a disability means different things in many parts of the world. In America many people with disabilities have the opportunity to reach their full potential in their circumstances, but the shift towards more inclusive attitudes and education is slow in places like Uganda. Through my research, I discuss the impact of disability on family life in the U.S., as well as in Africa. In this talk, I highlight the Biblical view of disability as well as the ways Jesus treated people with special needs. Furthermore, I discuss the elements which prevent us from hearing Gods voice, leading to spiritual disability. I conclude by identifying factors which enable us to reach our full potential in our individual walks with God.||Vira graduated from California State University, Sacramento with a Bachelors in Liberal Studies and currently studying Child Development at the graduate level. Her area of focus is children with special needs and family life. She is also a K-12 substitute teacher at San Juan Unified School District in Sacramento.
Vira comes from a missionary family that served in Eastern Ukraine for more than twenty-five years. At the age of twelve, she was first introduced to American schooling which later brought her to a deeper passion for learning about equal opportunity and the success people with special needs have in America.
This summer, she had an opportunity to travel to Uganda, Africa, where she presented research about the impact of disability on family life and served special needs children and their families through community projects.
|Entering into the Fight for Justice||International Justice Mission (IJM) is a global organization that partners with local authorities to rescue victims of violence, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors, and strengthen public justice systems. IJM works on cases of human trafficking, child sexual assault, police abuse of power, citizenship rights and property grabbing. Kate will share about the intersection between faith and action by unpacking her own faith journey and how her time at International Justice Mission has continued to shape her faith in Christ as she has witnessed Jesus through the work of justice.||Kate mobilizes advocates and leaders throughout the western region of the United States. Her passion for mobilizing advocates developed at both the state and national levels while assisting in the organization of International Justice Mission’s (IJM) Advocacy Summit in D.C. in 2012, and while executing IJM’s first state lobby day in California. She finds great joy in equipping every-day citizens with tools to engage with their government. Kate has served with IJM since 2012.|
|Eternal Networking: Inn-like communities for would-be Good Samaritans||As believers in the marketplace, we are perfectly placed to be a channel of God’s love and blessing to all around us. But oftentimes we are just too busy, or the needs encountered can seem overwhelming. We convince ourselves that the safest position is to stay disconnected and not get involved. Mike will discuss this in the context of Jesus’ parable of The Good Samaritan, and emphasize the critical importance of The Inn in that parable. Mike will explore what the “Inn” might be in our world, and propose that we might be more effective as Good Samaritans if we also have an “Inn” available. In conclusion, he will introduce a new vision called “Eternal Networking” – a strategy to help plant Inn-like house-to-house communities in every neighborhood. Eternal Networking can be a tool used as an extension of an existing local church, or to plant and multiply new low-resource simple churches.||I grew up in England and trained to become a professional Quantity Surveyor, earning (and still holding) membership of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. I currently work as a consultant helping development at Apple. But 30 years ago my life was radically changed by encountering the risen Jesus Christ at a rock concert. Out of that I became a missionary, pastor, church planter, and operations manager for a major outreach organization. My involvements took me to six continents, and almost the seventh! Unexpectedly, I then re-entered the business world and experienced the frustration of the disconnect between business and ministry, devotion and professional work. This fueled a season of spending many hours at a local prayer mountain, looking for God’s clarity. I emerged with a new sense of calling that I am beginning to embrace in these urgent and turbulent times. I am married to Heather (for 27 years), and have four children and two grand children.|
|Facilitation vs Teaching: what I learned while facilitating financial literacy courses for East Palo Alto residents||For more than seven years, I have been facilitating financial literacy training to empower underprivileged students and address systemic cycles of poverty.
But how do we create an environment of learning on a potentially dry subject? How do we make the subject easy to digest and relatable to the unique demographic? Can we design a classroom experience where students learn from one other? And how does improving financial literacy address a growing problem of economic disparity and what kind of lasting impact is made?
I will be sharing my experience coaching over 200 students and improving financial literacy skills by 71% in nine months.
|Ivan H. Lee is a training facilitator and program manager who helps people and organizations find and fulfill their purpose so that they can thrive.
He has been activating people to reach their potential and creating environments of learning in every step of his career. Combining eight years of managing complex projects at Apple, seven years of facilitating financial literacy training courses, and five years of managing an inclusion and diversity team, Ivan is currently seeking opportunities in the Learning and Development profession.
|Faith, Mercy and Social Justice||As Christians, we are called to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” In today’s Silicon Valley environment, who is our neighbor? How are we called to act in faith and demonstrate our love? And how do concepts of mercy and social justice differ, and how do they work together?
In this talk, we will explore the meaning of mercy and social justice. I will also describe how God touched my heart in my own Silicon Valley career experience, and how it changed my perspective and fueled my passion to be part of God’s plan for what breaks His heart in our area. One specific area that will be discussed is education where I have served as a volunteer in East Palo Alto, engaged in church community missions/transformation, and transitioned to a second chapter career role in an educational non-profit that transforms struggling schools in poverty areas. A second area will be discussing opportunities to improve conditions for service workers, the people who clean our buildings, prepare our food, maintain our landscaping, and provide day care for our children. Through mercy and systemic solutions, we can help them live more sustainably and with dignity.
Although there is great need in our area, there is great hope. We can step out in faith knowing we serve a God “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20)
|Linda has worked for high technology companies such as Hewlett Packard, PeopleSoft and Cisco in a variety of marketing, strategy, and operations roles. She has a degree in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University, followed by a MBA from Stanford.
Late in her career, Linda became aware of the lack of quality education for many children in Silicon Valley. Having had a quality public education where she grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she felt compelled to help children attending struggling schools in Silicon Valley. She volunteered as a “Citizen Teacher” in East Palo Alto for four years and also served as a regional non-profit board member.
This eventually led Linda to a second chapter non-profit career. Linda became a Partner at Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund (SV2), an organization who develops partners to learn more about non-profits and pools their money and talent to support promising social ventures. She has also led Compassion Weekend and Beautiful Day outreach projects through her church. Linda became an Encore Fellow at Partners in School Innovation, an organization who transforms teaching and learning in the most struggling public schools, and is currently their Chief of Staff. She has a passion for closing the opportunity gap for children in lower income areas and helping the marginalized in our community.
|Finding Order Amongst the Chaos of Cancer to Design Better Therapies||Next generation sequencing of cancer cells has given us incredible new information but turning this into real therapies that change cancer survival rates is a major challenge. By analysing the chaotic methylation patterns and genome deletions in cancer cell DNA we are designing mutation-specific therapies for precision medicine in cancer. I am committed to understanding patients as genuine people in their own context, not just as physical problems that need fixing and dedicated to medical mission to Syrian refugees in the Middle East. Faith is not the enemy of science: good science enhances faith and it takes great faith to discover the unseen things of science and bring them into the light.||Bio: Dr Daniel Thomas MD, PhD is a cancer and blood specialist, pathologist and stem cell transplant doctor currently working at Stanford University, School of Medicine developing new treatments for leukemia and other cancers. He is an author of over 30 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters and has received a number of awards for his cancer research (https://med.stanford.edu/profiles/daniel-thomas).
Daniel served as South Australian chair of the Christian Medical and Dental Fellowship of Australia, speaking in public regarding euthanasia legislation and mentoring medical students. Daniel has served in mission teams to Romanian street kids, prison ministry in Ghana, South Indian villages, Palestinian refugee camps, Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan. He is a regular invited speaker for training in man-of-peace evangelism and working with unreached people groups with Youth With A Mission, Baja/San Diego for 4 years. He serves with The Gate International Church in local mission to Iranian, Arabic and Afghani immigrants with Pastor Ziad Srouji (www.gateinternational.org) in the San Francisco Bay Area.
|How Bias influences our decisions in life||The talk will look into different type of biases and how they influence our everyday actions and decisions. Will share my experiences and stories on how we can break this myth and help bring about better second order impact in our lives. While we see faith as a personal area, it important to understand how our bias can have an impact the way different people practice and perceive the same faith and same value systems|
|How Science Fiction and Fantasy can save Christianity?||Over the last 30 years, there have those who have seen the faith movement compete with the entertainment industry over the hearts and minds of the youth in this country. Faith Leaders have complained about the amount of sex, drugs and violence in the entertainment industry (gaming, comics, television and film) while the entertainment industry complains about the dogmatic principalities of religion. In the last 10 years, we have seen a shift in churches producing their own content (God’s Not Dead, Fireproof, Courageous) which have been met with a warm reception at the box office and home video. This talk is a call to action for Christian content makers to take the next step. We need not only new christian dramas, but also new approaches to biblical classics as well as contemporary ideas. The bible mentions dragons, fallen angel offspring, behemoths, Leviathans, and a chariot made of fire. It is time for the Star Wars generation to reimagine some of these interpretations for a generation who grew up with Lord of the Rings and the Matrix. Perhaps then we can bridge the gap between those in the pulpit and those at Comic-Con.||Carl Varnado is an adjunct professor at Grand Canyon University and Media Arts Instructor at Rancho Solano Prep in Scottsdale AZ. He has written several faith based projects including his upcoming graphic novel, “The Lost Book of Kings” Mr. Varnado has been a speaker at the Alpha Omega Con, Black Enterprise African American Festival, Phoenix Comic Con and the Game Developers Conference. He was a founder of the Christian Prayer Group at the Game Developers Conference and holds dual master’s degrees Media Management and Education respectively.|
|Innovation in the ‘hood||As a patent professional who founded and grew an EV meetup group to 850+ members in 6 years, and promoted innovative clean tech companies, I felt that this model could be applied to minority communities. The goal is to provide introductory education, training, and mentoring to underprivileged folks in areas of business, intellectual property and technical fields. This will also encourage self-education using massive open online courses (MOOCs). The goal is to enable applicants to develop innovative products and services, create business plans, pitch their ideas, and win funding. Innovate-athon weekends can promote teamwork in a fixed-time competitive environment. We should model the innovative spirit of a Canadian engineer Elijah McCoy, who authored 57 patents on locomotive oiling systems, despite being a minority in the early 1900s. Unsatisfied customers of copycat knock-offs were told to get “the REAL McCoy.” Minority communities need this innovative spirit to fulfill their godly role of family, business, and community leaders.||Chris Novak is a polymath, degreed in microbiology, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and law. Chris has varied work experiences ranging from aerospace, automotive and biotech, to networks, semiconductors, mobile telephony, and optics. He has been a speaker at several California State University schools including San Jose State University and Cal Poly, SLO, which is one of his alma maters. Chris founded EV Entrepreneurs in 2010, promoting and supporting various businesses in automotive and renewable energy space. From the group, companies have gone on to receive government grants for research and development, and to compete in the Clean Tech Open. The group has been instrumental in funding several local university student teams design, build and compete in Formula SAE Electric race.|
|Intrinsic vs Performance Identity||In Silicon Valley, and all high performance areas and industries, measuring people against their peers, and other companies, is used to drive people to high levels of productivity, which drives an identity warped solely by external feedback. This talk will explore the differences between an externally maintained (performance) identity, and an internally maintained (intrinsic) identity. This difference can be important for sustainable work for one’s self, and as to properly motivate work groups.||Greg has been a startup engineer for over 9 years thriving in leading cross-functional teams, as well as getting code all over his fingers. He has lead engineering teams, and individually contributed to successful startup exits (7 figure exits). Also, he has lead and coached small group leaders, and held various leadership positions, in local spiritual contexts.|
|Kateri Tekakwitha: A Native Saint in Community with the People||Since first contact with Europeans, American Indians have been characterized as savage enemies and noble savages, victims of atrocities and ultimate survivors. Native people have rarely fit the stereotypical ideas of what an Indian is, instead, Indians understand themselves as part of the ever evolving American story. A big part of that story is the relationship Native people have with the organized Christian faith. One outstanding case of such is found in the life story of Katherine Tekakwitha. Tekakwitha was born in 1656 to a Mohawk father and an Algonkian mother on the south bank of the Mohawk River, near what is now Auriesville, New York. In 1676, at the age of 20, she was baptized in the Catholic tradition and given the name Katherine, which was later translated as Kateri. One year later she moved to the Francis Xavier Mission (Kahnawake) near Montreal and died three years after that. On June 22, 1980, Pope John Paul II beatified Tekakwitha, when canonized in 2012 she became the first Indigenous American (from what is now the United States) to enter into sainthood. Most of the information about Kateri comes from a series of pious biographies compiled by members of the Roman Catholic Jesuit Order, the same order responsible for her conversion to Christianity. My presentation will provide an historical overview of the life of Kateri Tekakwitha, her journey to sainthood and information about current practices honoring her life. At the end of my presentation I will show a short documentary film made by Lakota filmmaker Clementine Bordeaux about the canonization. Moving away from stereotypes and recognizing that Christianity is a longstanding tradition in many Indian communities validates the lived experience of Native people both in the past and in the present.||I have studied the life of Kateri Tekakwitha through a dual lens: that of a scholar, the other of a believer. My interest in her stemmed from my practice of Catholicism. Additionally, as a Native woman, I found her story compelling and wanted to know more about her, what lead her to the faith, and what prompted her to practice it so intently. Over the course of many years my interest in her life became as layered as her complicated life. Little historical documentation remains about her; however, from the time she died in 1680 members of the Catholic Church and most especially American Indian Catholics have held her in high esteem. Learning more about her life required that I also closely examine the role of missionaries, the overarching missionary project in the United States, consider comparative denominational approaches to proselytizing, the Catholic tradition of beatification and sainthood, the role of this Native saint in Native communities themselves and her relevance to those practicing the faith today. I am not a theologian by training so my approach is that of layperson, but as such, I bring the perspective of a believer who seeks only to engage in conversation about how saints help root our contemporary faith.|
|Productive Depolarization: How Transformational Work Can Heal Humanity||America is experiencing a level of political and cultural polarization not seen since the 1960’s. In this talk, I will explore how productive work can be a powerful tool for breaking down the assumptions, habits, and tribal structures that contribute to social polarization. I will start by presenting a simple conceptual model of the causes of polarizations, then discuss two case studies from my experiences at MIT and Apple demonstrating how to use that model to bring together mutually suspicious communities. I will end with suggestions for how technologists, entrepreneurs, and activists might leverage this model to better achieve their societal and business goals.||Dr. Ernest Prabhakar has been helping world-class organizations ship groundbreaking products for over twenty years. As UNIX Product Manager at Apple from 1997 to 2012, he drove the unification of the Mac and UNIX communities by spearheading the launch of Mac OS X Server in 1999, including the Darwin Open Source project. In the last two years he has consulted and led at six different startups, doing product management, launch planning, software development, and executive coaching. He holds at Ph.D. in Particle Physics from Caltech and an S.B. in Physics with Electrical Engineering from MIT. He is a prolific writer, and maintains a stable of blogs and Twitter accounts covering technology, theology, and organizational development. After the terrorist attacks of 9/11 he founded RadicalCentrism.org, a tiny little think tank devoted to exploring novel solutions to political polarization.|
|Progeny U – Creating a sustainable Coffee chain by bringing free education to the growers||I was born and raised in a Colombian Coffee farm. I have seen all the struggles that coffee growers face. Today, the coffee industry is growing in the world, and at the same time, the Colombian coffee growers are struggling more and more. This is why Progeny was founded, to be a blessing to my community. We started by buying the coffee at a much higher price than faire trade, but I believe that more money is not going to break the chains of poverty. I believe the lack of education and understanding of opportunities is what’s keeping all growers to move further. The idea with Progeny is to be able to fund Progeny University. This project will bring free entrepreneurial education to the plazas of the town, this providing an opportunity, so the growers could have access to education and see what other options they have.||I studied Design in Bogota, I graduated with Honors. Then, after a Design summer course in Barcelona I moved to New York where I worked for luxury fashion brands like Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang and Zero Maria Cornejo. After 6 years in the fashion industry in New York, my daughter was born and we moved to Silicon Valley leaving my fashion career behind. After much praying and aligning what God put me in my heart, I decided to go for my dream and start Progeny Coffee, with the aim to be a blessing to my roots. By growing up in a Colombian coffee farm and shadow my dad every weekend in the plantations , I believe that I am able to create a true sustainable coffee business, that will not only impact the growers, but will also bring the consumers closer that the true Colombian Coffee culture.|
|Rational Praying: The Power of Prayer||Christian prayer is a highly rational activity in which individuals seek to communicate with what they perceive to be the most powerful and intelligent being in existence. Applying rigorous analytical methods, researchers have found that prayer has a larger impact on happiness than general health improvement, and a larger impact on happiness than the level of income found in most households. Prayer has been empirically shown to result in the healing of the blind and deaf. Most importantly, new research confirms that prayer increases the extent to which individuals subjectively perceive the presence of God.||Timothy T. Brown, PhD, MA, is a health economist on the faculty of the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley, where he teaches analytical methods and health economics at the graduate level. Dr. Brown’s current research areas include public health systems and services research and the economics of chronic pain. He has authored 45 peer-reviewed publications including award winning work on the effectiveness of public health in California. He is part of a working group on spiritual and religious factors in public health at the University of California, Berkeley. A special area of interest for Dr. Brown is the economics of prayer and he has published peer-reviewed publications on the causal effect of prayer on happiness, the value of prayer, the demand for prayer, and is currently completing research on the causal impact of prayer on religious experience.|
|Religion and the Social Science||What are some ways we can study religion using rigorous social science methods? What type of research have sociologists, political scientists, and economists done to study religion? And why is religion still a very small research field in the social science? In this talk we highlight some peer-reviewed papers on religion, with 4 topics: how to measure religiosity? Why is America religiously devout, diverse, and tolerant? Does religion improve health? Is there an evolutionary foundation for morality?||I am a third-year PhD student at Stanford Economics. In my research I typically take a phenomenon from everyday life (e.g. church attendance) and use game theory tools to decipher people’s incentives. I’m interested in rational choice models of religion because up to this point of my life I have encountered four completely disjoint groups of people who all felt strongly about their worldviews. When I was little, my family worshiped the Chinese Communist Party. In middle school I attended a conservative Christian church in Louisiana and firmly believed in Young Earth Creationism. In college (MIT) I was surrounded by young liberal atheists. At Stanford I attend a Chinese church that opposes the Chinese Communist Party. I have always been interested in a rational choice foundation for why people adhere to their worldview.
I have previously given two talks at Passion Talk; one on the problem of evil and one on the axiomatic foundation of God’s existence. I am a co-leader of an apologetics group at Stanford; we meet weekly to discuss the intellectual foundations of Christianity.
|Servant Leadership in the Classroom and Public Policy Sphere||Increasing levels of political polarization in our society have led many to discount the ability of government and state policy in improving the lot of ordinary people. This can breed apathy, distrust, and worse. However, I believe this charged environment provides a wonderful opportunity for Christians to serve in a variety of ways. In this talk, I will briefly touch on the tenets of service leadership from Nehemiah and other biblical passages, and discuss what that may look like in practice. I present an example from my own experiences teaching at a large state university, and a small liberal arts college, on how such principles can empower students, and others, to have meaningful contributions in the educational and public policy sphere.||Born in the Bronx, New York, Marquise McGraw received his PhD in Economics from UC Berkeley in May 2015. He spent one year on the faculty at Middlebury College in Vermont, and is currently Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics at UC Berkeley. At Berkeley, Marquise held increasing levels of teaching responsibility and worked with a variety of undergraduate students at all levels. Prior to his PhD work, he worked at the Brookings Institution and Federal Aviation Administration. Beginning September, Marquise will be working for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. At this point, he feels called to the DC area and to the policy sphere, and hopes to make an impact on Washington with the message of the Gospels.|
|The Anatomy of the Faithful Church||At a time when the critical mass of the Christian church is often used as a powerful tool for political exploitation, it is incumbent upon the, church, referenced in scripture as the Body of Christ, not to confine itself to superficial categories like conservative or liberal, as if man made political categories had the authority to delineate the boundaries of the Christian faith. Instead, the Bible provides its own characterization of the Church which I’ve described in spoken word form called “The Anatomy of the Faithful Church.”||Kofi by day works as an attorney but most passionately utilizes his creative gifts as a spoken word poet. In 2015, Kofi was tapped to perform on the pilot for the web series, “Millennial Soul,” and taught the BASS Church Workers Conventions first ever session on the spoken word art, in which he returned in 2016 by popular demand. A sought after spoken word poet, he has performed at the City of San Jose’s Annual Juneteenth Celebration – Church in the Park (2011, 2012, 2013), participated in the Stanford Gospel Choir’s Winter Showcase in 2012 and was featured as a guest on Godsent TV (2011). Kofi was also Co-Director of the Saved Poets Society at Bible Way Christian Center and co-facilitated the Fatherhood poetry workshop at the Santa Clara County Juvenile Hall. Kofi can currently be found performing at venues, open-mics and churches throughout the Bay Area, including his home church, New Life Community Church.|
|The first law of commerce & economics is the biggest lie: Dismantling the paradigm of Resource Scarcity||World systems of commerce and resource allocation are rooted in the belief that resources are scarce and therefore must be efficiently managed and allocated. Many incredible innovations have come into the world as a result of the ensuing competition to meet basic needs out of fear of resource depletion. These fear-based solutions, however, have created as many evils throughout the history of mankind including wars, slavery, subjugation and annihilation of entire people groups. What if there is a better way to go about solving problems and meeting the world’s needs? While stewardship is definitely the call of the Believer in Christ, fear-based management of creation is not. My talk is to simply toss out ideas on how to partner with the Creator of All Things to create sustainable and efficient innovations rooted in Him whose very eternal nature is the universe’s Unlimited Resource.||Nicole M. Dickens has more than 15 years of Fortune 100 management experience in strategic planning and analysis, new product introductions, global treasury and trade credit risk management. She has developed high functioning teams in both spin-off and merger environments, and successfully executed the implementation of business process and controls. She also consults in developing nations to help small to mid-size businesses that have the capacity to grow as a means of dealing with poverty and unemployment within these nations. She has teamed up with other colleagues to develop various products and services around helping people live authentic, impactful lives in the marketplace that is consistent with their belief systems. She has also held various positions on the boards of non-profits, including Board Chair. Nicole received an MBA from the Ross School at the University of Michigan and a B.S. in Commerce from the McIntire School at the University of Virginia. She is currently the founder of the start-up Zoetica, Inc., a company seeking to bridge the gap between faith and innovation. She is also consulting in the area of business development for a SaaS BI start-up.|
|The Opposite of God||If asked what is the opposite of God, most people would answer Satan or some other entity that represents evil. However God created opposites to bring order, purpose and balance into the earth as they work with each other (i.e., hot and cold, winter and summer). Jesus stated in the gospel of John that God is a Spirit, and most of us understand that the opposite of the spiritual realm is the natural or material realm. Therefore the opposite of God is anything that materializes from His spirit in the natural realm. My talk’s purpose is to not only teach this understanding, but explain how it works with the principles of belief and faith so we can produce our God based desires while simultaneously identifying any evil based hindrances.||Pastor Peter McDonald is the senior Pastor of Valley Praise Community Church in Goodyear, AZ. His fifteen plus years of ministerial experience which includes pioneering successful churches in the Englewood inner city Chicago community and in the Phoenix metropolitan area along with insight gained from a professional sales career with IBM and other companies gives him an unique command of discovering and explaining bilblical principles in a simple,and life changing way. He also hosted a daily afternoon drive time call in radio show on Chicago’s 2nd largest Christian FM station for three years where his expertise on how to successfully use biblical precepts for personal and business development resulted in high listener ratings. He role as founder of Good Success Institute has caused him to be a conference speaker and panelist on issues regarding family, finances, goal achievment, and spiritual growth.|
|The Poor You Will Always Have With You||When evaluating ideas that seek to benefit the poor, sustainability-related questions are typically posed in order to screen out ideas that require ongoing assistance in favor of ideas that have the potential to transform people and systems in ways that let them become self-sustaining. I examine this criterion in light of what the Gospel and Levitical law teach about the permanence of poverty as a social phenomenon and offer a warning that attempts to restrict help to purely temporary commitments may impede the true spiritual discipline of giving. I conclude by reviewing anecdotes and research on projects in international development where efficiency and sustainability are not aligned, i.e. where a donor would miss out on an efficient investment over concerns of efficiency or where a donor would commit to something inefficient because it promises sustainability.||I am a PhD candidate in economics studying development economics, currently researching comparisons between local governments and non-government organizations in their pro-poor targeting strategies.|
|The Strength of the Weak Ties: Digital Affinity Spaces and Bridging Social Capital||I’ve been wondering: In the midst of everything else happening online, why are there persistent demonstrations of generosity toward strangers?
Digital affinity spaces have been shown to foster behaviors such as hospitality to newcomers, mentoring beginners, and increased social engagement of introverts. Against a backdrop of moral panic around emerging technologies (a generational pattern stretching all the way back to Socrates’ lamenting the advent of writing) jostling against the reality of social protest movements moving into digital spaces, understanding the strength of bridging social capital (weak ties across diverse networks) has become especially important. No longer is it sufficient to treat the Internet as a broadcast medium (a marketing perspective) or even as a helpful tool supporting already intimate relationships (a bonding social capital perspective). Now more than ever we need to grow in our empathy for outsiders and strangers; we need bridging social capital.
|Bret is the Ministry in Digital Spaces Director for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, where his team is exploring relational ministry in digital neighborhoods such as social media hashtags, online videogames, podcasts, YouTube channels, and blogs. Bret is also a PhD student in Educational Psychology and Educational Technology at Michigan State University, researching affinity spaces and social capital. More specifically, he is interested in the extent to which digital affinity spaces (e.g. online videogames, Twitter hashtags, fan forums, podcasts, and YouTube channels) afford and constrain bridging social capital (weak ties across diverse networks) among youth and young adults. He is an avid gamer motivated by exploration and social connection, primarily in Elder Scrolls Online but in many independent games as well. His favorite bit of digital street cred is that he still keeps in touch with his first online friend, from AOL in the early 90s. Find him online at http://bretsw.com|
|Thoughts on (Christian) Gastronomy||Food, especially in the Bay Area, is central to how we use our time, money, and talents. How we eat has changed significantly in the past century, though prevailing gastronomic wisdom generally has not. In recent years, people have pushed back against industrialization trends, notably in current inclinations toward local, organic, non-GMO, “whole”, paleo, and other labels. What do we make of the paradigm of food environments from a public health perspective and from a Christian perspective? I will consider the former in light of equity, safety, and environment, and the latter with respect to guilt, hospitality, and sacrament.||Tomás is a Ph.D. student in Environmental Health Sciences at UC-Berkeley. His present research foci include mathematical modeling of macroparasite transmission and techniques for assessing contamination in surface waters. His interest in food stems from his work on foodborne illness in Southeast Asia and food innovation and access in San Francisco.|
|Thy Innovation Come – Our Greatest Strategic Advantage As Believers||How does a modern-day Christ follower, holding an ancient belief system to be fundamentally true, influence a rapidly changing culture where only the newest ideas and innovations are considered relevant? Our 1990’s selves would have simply referenced our proudly adorned wrist-motto asking “What Would Jesus Do?”, and conclude that contemporary worship services and Christian coffee bars were a great creative attempt at cultural relevance. But as Dr. Phil would ask “how’s that working out for us?”. The data suggests, not well.
Today’s business innovation principles teach us that the strongest catalyst to hyper-growth is fervent learning, rapid iteration and an extreme focus on customer empathy. If we observe the output of the unique and varied miracles of Jesus we see a high-level of cultural creativity. However, if we simply apply the “Lean Startup Church” as our current WWJD iteration, we will still fall short of the greatest opportunity we have to lead culture in even greater ways than He. (John 14:12)
In this talk, Marc urges us to all move beyond empathy, to an attentiveness of the omnipotent eternal God who already has a work in motion that we are called to take part as those built in His divine image.
|Marc Krejci is the Pastor of Innovation at Venture Christian Church located in Silicon Valley, a non denominational church that seeks to build and foster a life of service in all members. Before joining Venture, Marc was a business and startup professional with over 15 years experience in the spheres of marketing, the music industry, software development, entrepreneurship, and more.|
|Transforming Communities with Technology and Prayer||We live in dangerous times where workplace violence, school shootings and terror incidents are on the rise globally. US economy has a $19 tn debt and our nation is more divided than ever before as we face a critical election this year. The moral decay has been astounding in the past few decades and biblical values that were a norm from our founding days are fading away. This is the time America desperately needs transforming Revival. We need a third great awakening. The only way we can see transforming Revival is to cry out to the Lord with desperation and expectation of Revival. 2 Chr 7:14. Prayer is the main focus for The Potter’s Ministries which I co-founded and we have been praying for the nation for the last 15 years. We have 6 hours of Intercession for the nation on a every week day basis over the conference bridge. We do a Intercession Conference each year with George Otis Jr. Virginia Tech shootings happened in 2007 and the Lord put a burden on my heart to launch a Kingdom Business to focus on preventing gun violence in schools and colleges. The mission for Resiligence Inc. is safe Campuses. We have a product called TipNow, a texting and mobile-app based anonymous reporting system. We have many college campuses, some schools, some police departments and one transit agency as paying customers of TipNow. We just signed up one major corporation for TipNow as well. We have an opportunity to possibly customize and deploy TipNow for a Human Trafficking Prevention project. As CA leads the nation in innovation, this can potentially be deployed by all other states and also has global potential. We even prevented a gun violence on a college campus. Here is a ABC news video on it.||Cyril Rayan is Founder, President, CEO of Resiligence, Inc., headquartered in Santa Clara , CA focused on Safe Communities. The company, founded in 2007, is the provider of TipNow™, a leading real-time, text based anonymous reporting service for a diverse number of environments where people gather. These range from K-12 schools, Universities, Corporations, Transit Systems and large public gathering places, to entire communities.
Cyril has a unique blend of experience in conceiving and developing technology products, marketing, teaching and non-profits. He has travelled globally on business and non-profit related work. He has spoken at conferences like Campus Safety Conference written white papers and published articles in magazines.
He holds an MBA from Santa Clara University, an MS in electrical engineering from Mississippi State University, and a BS in electrical engineering from the University of Mumbai.
He is also a co-founder of a non-profit organization, The Potter’s Ministies focused transforming Communities He serves on the board of a Christian Ministry, The Sentinel Group.
|Two Sides of the Same Coin: Dissonance and Harmony in Living a Double Life as Evangelist and Engineer||In this talk, I will tell the story of living this divided life and highlight the importance of being the “other.” Many professionals and academics live this double life. Often it looks like a life guided by faith on the weekends and a life guided by vocation Monday through Friday. In my life as an academic and engineer, my faith is a novelty. In my spiritual communities, my vocation is a novelty. At times, the grass seems greener to be fully an engineer climbing the ranks and building products that change the world. Other times, there are feelings of missing out on Kingdom work happening all around us. Stuck inbetween, where does God call the professional and academic? Are we simply called to provide for ourselves, our families, and our church communities financially? Are we called to witness to our coworkers in the workplace? Are we called to bring the Church into the forefront of innovation, business, and scholarship? I believe in a time where technology and information is at all our fingertips, God is raising up and affirming the identities of intellectual and faithful individuals, where our faith motivates the development and steering of our professional work, and our vocational experiences and expertise inform our faiths. As these bridges are built, we are able to combine our intellect and faith towards tackling the darkest problems in our world. We are not merely invited to this intellectual faith movement, but are uniquely suited to bring together communities that would not have a means to connect otherwise. Let’s look beyond the misunderstandings of past perceptions and walk fully in the confidence and victory of the time and place that we have been crafted for.||I’m a developer, researcher, and educator. Among my greatest passions are game development, Artificial Intelligence, and teaching around the world. Most recently, I was completing my PhD in Computer Science. Specifically, my dissertation work was on evaluations metrics for storytelling technologies (called Authorial Leverage), shifting the design process from focusing on the user to focusing on the developer. For Stanford, I helped extend their technology courses for pre-collegiate students around the world, developing curriculum for Computer Science and Game Design and teaching in Chile, India, China, Peru, and Kazakhstan. My introduction to Google was as a SWE intern for the YouTube Radio team, where I evaluated verticals for procedurally building playlist results for various queries (end to end). I look forward to the sort of world changing opportunities in connecting with the developers I love and the creative possibilities that Google Cloud enables.|
|Unity Of The Faith||Here at Google I have been blessed to work with and for such high quality intelligent “Googley” people of all races & many religions expressed, to serve so many professionally, as well as to share personal beliefs upon request whenever positive relationships develop and/or interests arise. With so many kind curious diverse people working here at Google, I have had many wonderful opportunities to fulfill 1 Peter 3:15, learn from others also, along with my passion for respectful scholarly discussions involving Judeo-Christian Apologetics, in that the whole Holy Bible is One Holy Book without contradictions when understood completely and correctly. This is what I have come to see in order to continually grow toward the Unity of The Faith, as expressed in Ephesians 4:13, and such is my topic for this next Passion Talk opportunity.||Russell Smith has been a Personal Trainer & Endurance Coach working at Google since August, 2007, as well as at Yahoo beforehand. Since age 7, he grew up a sincere Christian with a child-like faith that the whole Holy Bible was inspired by God, without any contradictions. Sports, exercise, and healthy nutrition have always been within his passions also, as well as for a clean Temple (body) of the Holy Spirit. After two years of college, along with some sincere doubts developing regarding his faith, he decided to major in Theology for two years, from 1988-1990, to learn Christian history and the Holy Bible as accurately as possible. As world class Olympic athletes must consistently train smarter and/or increasingly harder for years, he has applied such elite health, fitness, and high performance principles of dedication and training to not stop learning every year, with the realization that there is still more to learn year after year, without any prejudices or partiality as possible. As a result of his passion and gift of the Spirit, he zealously intends to lovingly peacefully reach the full potential of his calling as “a light” in this world, knowing that physical exercise profits a little by comparison to spiritual exercise and in a loving relationship with God and all humanity as possible. By early 2012, he founded a free learning ministry website reaching thousands of people worldwide to date, for correspondence & continual learning with everyone who may get involved (including himself).|
|Using the technology to spread the Gospel||This talk is about how technology is being used and will be used to spread the Gospel everywhere. Information is all around us, and thanks to technology we are able to connect, organize, and access so much from all over the world. As an engineering manager at Google for many years, my current pursuit is to create a better connected world.||Alain is a software engineering manager at Google working on bringing fast Internet access to emerging markets. He joined the company in 2007 and is the co-founder of OnHub, a wireless router for the connected home and also worked on Google social networking infrastructure and built software to connect Google’s data centers. Prior to Google, Alain held engineering positions at Symantec, Pillar Data Systems, and Maxtor.|
|What Is a Person?||Most people, including atheists, embrace the following beliefs about persons (the inner conscious self): Persons (1) endure over time. (2) have conscious experiences. (3) are causal agents. (4) bear moral responsibility. (5) are of great (and of roughly equal) worth. However, from the standpoint of science, all of these are problematic. Persons (the inner self) and all subjective states have no place in the picture of the world science provides. Since our identity and sense of personal worth seem intimately connected to our sense of ourselves as persons, the issue here is of practical importance. But beyond the matter of practical import, the issues related to mind and personhood give good reason for believing the physicalist worldview (metaphysics) is mistaken. The attempts by physicalists to account for conscious mental states and personhood will be considered. Not all reject the reality of conscious experiences, but, even for these, their physicalist metaphysics leaves the distinctively subjective character of mental states as having no causal role.||Peter Payne: BA in philosophy from Stanford,
MA and Ph.D. in philosophy from Claremont Graduate University
21 years served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (UCSC and Stanford with IVCF undergrad min.; U of Michigan with IVCF grad/faculty min.)
Since 2008, the Managing Director of the Institute for Credible Christianity. This includes overseeing a grad student ministry at UCSC (with my wife, Janet) and annual month-long speaking tours in Europe (again with Janet) by invitation from the IFES movements. This past spring it was two months: Sweden, Poland, Denmark, Lithuania, Czech Rep., and Germany.
Has engaged in a number of public debates, the most recent: U. of Potsdam, Germany, “Does Morality Need a Foundation in God?” w/ Prof Logi Gunnarsson.
|Why I absolutely adore all cultures of the world…||Because of Christ, I am an overcomer, a victor and not a victim. Therefore, because of this, I feel called to be a humanitarian; I have great empathy for the disadvantaged, impoverished, and abused. Daily I use my educational background in Christian Education, Marketing, English, and Life Skills Coaching as an ordained minister to help, educate, and coach people worldwide. For example, technology allows me to interface and coach women in labor and child rearing in Zambia. I will give further examples of humanitarian and educational world outreach that is possible using creative methods.||I am a humanitarian and educator. I have a degree in Christian Education, Marketing, and English, and currently work as a certified life coach and ordained minister. Because I have suffered from many abuses and disadvantages in my life and overcame, I have a heart to see the same for others. I am an educator and have a heart for people worldwide and love being a life-long learner of culture, regions, and people groups; I want to share this information to educate others and help them impact the world as well. I dreamed of feeding children at the garbage dump in Payatas, Philippines, so I went. I bought several kilos of rice, and dispensed it, and love to the kids, along with a movie to the village about faith, and then lead a youth conference to educate the children.|
|You are more capable than you think you are||In this talk, I will speak about how I apply my faith in my business. I will share one specific area where I have used my faith extensively to produce effective results for my clients by simply turning complex concept into simple to understand information/graphic. I will explain the systematic approach “Explore – Pray – Apply” that I have consistently used to turn chaotic into a masterpiece. The result was the birth of useful communication tools that have helped to breakdown solos within the organization and rebuild trust and teamwork across different functions. I believe when we invite the Holy Spirit to lead us and guide us in our business, He will bless the work of our hands. Therefore, we are able to achieve greater results far beyond our imaginations.||Adeline has worked for a range of global organizations, from small businesses to Fortune 500 Companies in various industries, including hi-tech, engineering, construction, semiconductor, manufacturing, education, retails and food services. During these times, Adeline has had the privilege of working with executives and employees of all levels in the organizations. She has a proven track record of earning her clients’ confidence by helping them to align learning strategy to business goals, streamline production processes, reduce overhead costs, and improve global talent capabilities to drive business performance.
Adeline is also a certified business coach with the John Maxwell Team. She holds the business owners and professionals accountable, raises their awareness level and sharpens their focus. By doing so, the business owners and professionals are able to think at a higher level which ultimately helps to move their business to the next level. In her work as a mentor, Adeline offers knowledge, wisdom and insights to guide the business owners and professionals so that they can achieve greater influence, impact and income. Adeline holds a master’s degree in New Media Design and Production from California State University Los Angeles and another master’s degree in Human Resources Development from Western Michigan University. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Western Michigan University.