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About 1,000 people kicked off the National Day of Prayer in Toledo by having breakfast yesterday with John C. Maxwell, best-selling author and renowned leadership expert.
Held in the SeaGate Convention Centre, the gathering marked the 20th annual Northwest Ohio Prayer Breakfast with a mix of Christian music, prayer, and inspirational talks.
Mr. Maxwell, a 62-year-old native of Circleville, Ohio, delivered the keynote speech in a low-key, charismatic tone that relied more on wit and wisdom than emotion or theatrics.
A former pastor, Mr. Maxwell has sold 16 million books and gives leadership talks to many of the nation's top corporations.
Wearing a sport coat and open-collared shirt, he spoke of what he imagined it would be like "to run one lap" with four key Bible figures: Noah, Rebekah, David, and Jesus.
Noah would tell you that "one person can make a difference," he said, because it was Noah's righteousness that led God to spare him and his family from the flood. It not only affected Noah, his family, and his generation, but all generations to come.
"If it wouldn't have been for Noah, we wouldn't be here," Mr. Maxwell said.
Rebekah was chosen as Isaac's bride because of her servant leadership, quietly hauling jugs of water to Abraham's servant and his 10 camels.
"Our culture is ripe for servant leadership," Mr. Maxwell said.
If David ran one lap, he would tell you that "you can overcome the limitations others placed on you," he said.
That's because David was overlooked by his father, Jesse, when the prophet Samuel told him one of his sons would be king of Israel, as well as when "The Big Boy," Goliath, was taunting the Israelites and nobody thought to ask David to fight the giant.
If Jesus ran one lap with us, he would say, "I came to this Earth to help you have a relationship with God," Mr. Maxwell said.
He said people's "distorted picture" keeps them from getting close to God. Some see God as distant, some are distracted by their own baggage, and others try to reach him through their good works, he said. But the only way to have a relationship with God is to "accept the gift" of forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life.
After his 35-minute talk, Mr. Maxwell went to the lobby and signed copies of his books, then returned to the stage for a leadership seminar that focused on achieving one's dream - the theme of his latest best-seller, Put Your Dream to the Test. More than 900 people paid an extra $75 for the seminar, which went from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
"I think his principles are dynamic and practical for this time," said the Rev. Tim Clark, pastor of Harvest Christian Center.
Rob Fairchild, a deejay for Christian radio station YES-FM (89.3), described Mr. Maxwell as "captivating."
"It takes a lot to grab my attention, but he held it the whole time," he said.
Among the other National Day of Prayer events scheduled locally were a noon prayer session in downtown Findlay, an evening rally for conservative values in International Park, and a 12-hour "Concert of Prayer" on WLMB-TV, Channel 40.
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