Leading the service was Lt. Col. Allen B. West, Fox News commentator and NRA Director. West’s inspirational testimony as the keynote speaker for the 2017 event in Atlanta made him a favorite of Prayer Breakfast regulars, and he picked up without missing a beat with a lesson from Judges 7 on Gideon leading [his soldiers] into battle. “God ordered Gideon to send all but 300 of them home,” taught West, adding, “You have to trust God, even when it seems God is being unfair. Testing of faith reveals you have more … faith. We walk by faith, not by sight, because the victory has been won by our Lord and Savior.”
Before introducing Joe Gregory, member of the NRA Ring of Freedom, to lead the opening prayer, West reminded, “Our founding fathers wrote—the very first freedom we have, is freedom of religion. And then they backed that up with another freedom … ” and when he paused, a palpable, joyful murmur spread through the crowd, and they began to clap.
Also coming to the dais was a Prayer Breakfast founder, whose true heart and joy in the Lord has meant so much to this gathering over the years. Susan Howard, a long-time NRA Director, opened up to share her personal salvation story, telling how, as a young actress, away from her home state ofTexas, living in Hollywood, experiencing career success, nonetheless felt empty and unfulfilled. That led her to church, but at first, just going through the motions. But when the Holy Spirit came over her, “… it was like a warm cloth, something warm washing over me. And this past January 21, I celebrated my 40th year walking with Jesus.”
The morning’s keynote speaker also is a veteran member of the NRA Board, Ken Blackwell, whose public service has included terms as mayor of Cincinnati and as Ohio’s secretary of state. Blackwell declared that, “Family is the incubator of freedom,” and told of troubling times in totalitarian and communist states where governments “destroy the family and chase God and faith from the public square. The first line of defense,” he said, “is faith in God. The second line of defense, is protection of the family. … There’s not a government on earth that can give you your human rights: God gave us our human rights … [and] you have the fundamental right to protect your life and your family and your property.”
In these difficult times, “We must engage,” continued Blackwell. “That comes from the French, en garde, a fencing term with both offensive and defensive positions. At NRA today, we need to be engaged both offensively and defensively, because there are forces that want to take away our individual liberties.” Referring to Ephesians 6, Blackwell said, “My clarion call is to put on the armor [of God] and prepare to do battle.”
He then shared a family story about how a small, hospitalized boy, looking out the window, observed that a man lighting street lamps was “punching holes in the darkness.”
Blackwell went on to recount Jesus’s teaching from John 3, that, “Those who would do us evil, love the darkness.
“Brothers and sisters in Christ,” he concluded, “now is the time to engage and punch holes in the darkness.”