A capacious crowd gathered early to worship and proclaim their allegiance to God and country on April 30, 2017 at the National Prayer Breakfast during the NRA Annual Meetings in Atlanta. Enjoying a bright spring Sunday morning and the excitement of NRA’s signature weekend, the fellowship in faith was greeted by NRA Director Susan Howard, who said, “This is the Lord’s Day and we will rejoice. You are not here by whim—you are here by God’s plan.”
NRA Director Susan Howard
NRA Immediate Past President Allan Cors (back row, center) with some of his extended family.
Marketing Vice President Chuck Wahr (center) and colleagues from Trijicon.
The event was again hosted by Fathers in the Field, whose founder, John Smithbaker, shared insights from his group’s ministry with fatherless children and called on NRA men to make a commitment to help, noting, “There are 13 million fatherless boys in our country wondering where the godly men are.”
Also returning as sponsors this year were Trijicon and Universal Coin and Bullion. From the latter company, Forest Hamilton shared his personal story of child abuse, followed by forgiveness and salvation. As Hamilton clearly knows from an upbringing that was harsh but in the end couldn’t defeat him, God challenges each of us. “There is no testimony without a test,” he explained.
The keynote speaker was Lt. Col. Allen B. West, a decorated soldier, former U.S. congressman, Fox News commentator, author and presently executive director, National Center for Policy Analysis. Lt. Col. West now works to return our nation to growth, opportunity and the realization of the American dream. Without reservation he is a Christian and a patriot, and it was around those two truths he crafted his message to the large crowd, focusing on the simple yet compelling advice, “Make ready.”
From left, John Smithbaker (Fathers in the Field); Lt. Col. Allen B. West; and UCB's Forest Hamilton
Speaking powerfully, with the authority of a military officer yet in the tones and cadences of a country preacher, West linked personal salvation with personal liberty, teaching with a seamless blend of scripture, anecdote and American history.
Paraphrasing Ephesians 6, West said, “It is time to make ready … to take up the helmet of freedom. … We are not wimps and wusses—our legacy comes from those brave men at Lexington Green. Ours is the same faith tradition as the signers of the Declaration of Independence. ”
He continued, “We have to make ready, just as our Lord and Savior did—Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done.” (Luke 22)
“Make ready, men and women of Christ,” he said. “Our Lord Jesus Christ made ready. The men at Lexington made ready. Now it is time for you to make ready.” There was no uncertainty in Lt. Col. West’s call to action, his message every bit as powerful as his delivery.
The NRA Prayer Breakfast attracted attendees like the Nobles family of North Carolina, all of whom are active in the shooting sports. From left: Harrison Nobles, 20; father Hugh Nobles (center) and daughter, Elaina Nobles, 17.
Through the much-anticipated National Prayer Breakfast, the Living Word of God has become a fixture of the NRA Annual Meetings. This year was no exception as the audience, uplifted and inspired by all the speakers and by Christian musician Scotty Wilbanks, filed out on their way to the Exhibit Hall and the day’s events.