The NRA faithful came together in huge numbers at Louisville’s Galt House Hotel for the National Prayer Breakfast on Sunday morning, May 22. This time of Christian worship has grown to become one of the very largest of the many gatherings that occur during the NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits.
After Forest Hamilton opened the service by declaring we are, “honored, humbled and grateful for the miracle of a new day,” the blessing was said by NRA Ring of Freedom chairman Joe Gregory, and musical praise continued during the meal from award-winning singer-guitarist Eric Miker.
The morning’s theme was fatherly responsibility, mentoring and love. John Smithbaker from Fathers in the Field began by citing Isaiah 1:17, “Defend the cause of the fatherless,” a message echoed by longtime NRA Director Susan Howard who remarked, “The Bible talks about raising up men, [and it is] important in our current society to mentor young men who are troubled and fatherless, who need a man to stand up for them.”
Special guest Mark “Oz” Geist, a former Marine and U.S. government security contractor who fought, was injured and yet survived the Battle of Benghazi, said that the clear presence of God on that night in September 2012, made it possible for his small unit to overcome a much larger terrorist force. Geist, who was joined in testimony by his wife, remarked, “Fathers have to give our children that foundation that I found in the Church.”
The keynote speaker was Dr. James Dobson, whose influential ministry has long been dedicated to the preservation of the family. His inspiring talk was largely a personal reflection on his relationships with his father and as a father. Dr. Dobson revealed that his dad was an evangelist who traveled frequently, but nonetheless devoted time to his son, notably taking the young boy quail hunting in west Texas, giving him a .410 shotgun for his 10th birthday. But when the younger Dobson was in danger of going astray as a teenager, his father left evangelistic ministry and settled in at a church. Later, when Dr. Dobson’s own career was at a turning point, his dad counseled him to, “Take a path that will not deprive your family what they need.”
Following that advice, Dobson went on to induction in the National Radio Hall of Fame and to author some 80 books, the first of which, Dare to Discipline, is still in print 45 years after its original release. In his kindly fashion, the noted broadcaster/writer/minister, concluded by telling the congregation to, “Be there.” He said he’s told his son that, ultimately, “I will be in heaven and I will look for you because I want to spend eternity with you. But you must be there.” That is vitally true for all parents, he continued, who must “be there” to teach children about the gift of eternal life.