Nearly 1,000 Iowans celebrated their faith at the 56th Annual Iowa Prayer Breakfast on Thursday morning. A Maunday Thursday tradition, the breakfast is held every year at the Iowa Events Center.
The program was emceed by Polk County Supervisor Steve Van Oort, with Governor Terry Branstad welcoming everyone in attendance. The Governor has only missed one breakfast since his first election as the longest serving Governor in the United States.
“We are lucky to live in a country where we can openly observe our faith, both in the public and private sectors. This breakfast is a way that we can all come together to celebrate that faith.”
Old and New Testament Scripture verses were read by Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds and Congressman David Young.
The keynote was delivered by Dr. Joe Stowell, the President of Cornerstone University. Dr. Stowell has authored several books and has filmed documentaries on faith-related topics. He compared the troubled times that our nation and society face today to the struggles of early Christians during Jesus’ lifetime. He believes that in spite of the despair that we face, in the end we are part of the kingdom of Christ.
“The world that the first followers lived in was confusing, chaotic, dangerous, and full of defilement and despair. If you fast forward to today’s world, that’s still true. Terrorists are spreading violence, and we still face confusion, chaos, danger, defilement, and despair. There are no safe places left. Think of our government in Washington, locked in gridlock. Or our colleges and universities that teach the next generation that there is no truth. We do not protect the sanctity of life.”
Dr. Stowell said that there is a solution to our brokenness. He used the words of the apostle Paul as reassurance that God’s mercy is great and that He is the way to salvation.
“In the midst of despair, Paul calls for an attitude change. He tells us that there are only two kingdoms: The kingdom of Satan and darkness, and the kingdom of Christ. Satan’s kingdom is characterized by darkness, which is dangerous. It is the way of death. But the kingdom of Christ is The Way, The Truth, and The Life. It’s about righteousness, peace, and joy. In the end, Jesus will come and make whole all of our brokenness. Like a symphony that has many separate parts and may have chaotic practices, it all comes together as beautiful music when led by the conductor.”
He said that the only way to be part of this kingdom is through faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior.
“Which kingdom do you want to belong to? Without Christ, you don’t get a choice. We are born into the kingdom of death, and we can’t get to Christ’s kingdom through works, money, or the networks of people we know. But with Christ, hope triumphs over despair. On Good Friday, the disciples despaired, but Sunday would come. Their world had not changed after the Resurrection, but they had. They were sent to be agents of Christ to the world. The lesson for us is the same. We are instruments of Christ’s kingdom, and that is the privilege of belonging. In moments of despair, we must recognize that “This too, shall pass”. It’s like filming a movie. Don’t freeze frame it, but let the film roll and trust the executive producer. If you’ve seen the film, you know how it will end-with joy. In this world, you will have troubles, but have good cheer, because you will overcome with Christ. May He rest your hearts and send you out as agents of His kingdom.”
MacKenzie Dreeszen is a legislative assistant in the Iowa House and a political consultant specializing in fundraising.