Tables for the event were sponsored at a cost of $185 by area businesses, churches and ministries. In addition, many individuals attended the Ozark Mountain Prayer Breakfast, filling the Branson Hilton Convention Center’s Taneycomo ballroom nearly to capacity.
The event has at its roots the year 1775 when the Continental Congress asked Americans to pray for guidance as it was trying to birth a nation. Abraham Lincoln called for a day of “humiliation, fasting and prayer” in 1863. Nearly a century later, Harry Truman made it an annual event, and, in 1988, Ronald Reagan set aside the first Thursday in May so citizens could join in worship across all religious boundaries.
“In the aftermath of senseless acts of violence, the prayers of countless Americans signal to grieving families and a suffering community that they are not alone,” President Obama wrote in a proclamation marking this year’s event. “Their pain is a shared pain, and their hope a shared hope. Regardless of religion or creed, Americans reflect on the sacredness of life and express their sympathy for the wounded, offering comfort and holding up a light in an hour of darkness.”
The holiday began in 1775 when the Continental Congress asked Americans to pray for guidance as it was trying to birth a nation. Abraham Lincoln called for a day of “humiliation, fasting and prayer” in 1863. Nearly a century later, Harry Truman made it an annual event, and, in 1988, Ronald Reagan set aside the first Thursday in May so citizens could join in worship across all religious boundaries.
Emeal Zwayne was the keynote speaker who inspired those gathered with his testimony of faith in Jesus Christ after surviving an abortion attempt. According to Zwayne, his mother had already aborted two children and was scheduled to abort for a third time when inexplicably the doctor refused. “I’m not going to do this one,” he said.
Zwayne and his family immigrated to the United States where as a 16 year-old he survived a stint with the notorious L.A. street gang, the Crips. According to an article by Stanford University, the activities of the Crips originated on high school campuses throughout the Los Angeles area. Crips are well known as the largest and most violent of all street gangs.
Zwayne is Executive Vice-President of Living Waters Ministry, an outreach ministry of Ray Comfort which often features actor Kirk Cameron. Zwayne is also Executive Director of 180, the 33 minute movie that challenges beliefs on abortion set against the backdrop of the Holocaust. Copies of the dvd were given to every person who attended as a complimentary gift from Branson’s Christian Business Men’s Committee who sponsors the annual event.
After the Ozark Mountain Prayer Breakfast, keynote speaker Emeal Zwayne spoke personally with the nearly 70 high school students from Stone and Taney County who attended the event.
During his address, Zwayne expressed his heart to reach the youth of this generation before America slides into social, moral and economic decline like other nations.
Zwayne also met on Wednesday with the entire student body at The School of the Ozarks, a local, private laboratory high school where he shared his testimony and presented a challenge to each student to develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
One attendee was particularly surprised at the prayer breakfast when she received the annual Don Gabriel Kingdom Builder Award. Dr. Sue Head, Dean of Character Education at the College of the Ozarks was this year’s recipient. Several family members attended from Memphis, Tennessee and surprised Dr. Head who had no idea she would be honored with the award.
Dr. Sue Head surrounded by family who traveled to surprise her when she received the Kingdom Builder Award. Dr. Hayden Head, her husband was in charge of orchestrating the surprise which he apparently did successfully.
Dr. Jerry Davis, President of the College of the Ozarks presented the award by including several quotations from family, friends and students who have admired her walk with Jesus Christ. At the end of the prayer breakfast, Dr. Head was swarmed by students from the School of the Ozarks who were obvious admirers.
Several past recipients were in attendance including retired banker, Smith Brookhart, and co-founder of Silver Dollar City, Jack Herschend who was the 2012 recipient. (Pictured Below)
Business professionals, ministry leaders and church leaders prayed together for our region, state and national leaders as well as the military serving at home and abroad. Pastor Clif Crockett, United Methodist Church in Kimberling City, Pastor Jerry Jenkins, First Christian Church in Kimberling City, Pastor Dennis Winzenreid, Forsyth Community Presbyterian Church and Dr. Billye Brim, founder of Prayer Mountain in the Ozarks and well-known Christian radio and television personality led the prayers.
praying in part, "Dearest Heavenly Father, this is our National Day of Prayer. All across our country people who love you are gathered with bowed hearts recognizing as it says in the second stanza of our national anthem that You have brought forth and preserved for us a nation."
Reverend Jerry Jenkins, who is retiring this year from First Christian Church in Kimberling City, offered the benediction saying, "We have had the opportunity to fill our stomachs this morning to give us the strength to move forward as God's people, we have confirmed by the saluting of the flag and sharing in the national athem to stand firm in the morals of our country and we have heard the testimony of a man who has come to know Jesus Christ and challenged us all to be what God's wants us to be. Now as a benediction let me share from Hebrews 13:20-21 as our challenge, "Now may the God of peace who brought back our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, that great Sherpherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ to whom be glory forever and ever Amen. God be with you."