Christians are called to lead others to salvation through Jesus Christ. Finding people willing to be led and honoring those in authority within the community are the goals behind the Mayor's Prayer Breakfast, hosted each year by the Christian Business Men's Connection.
"What we try to do is get people who are seekers to come," said, Delmar "Butch" Edwards, a prayer breakfast committee member with the group. The event is always Bible-based, he said, and the goal is to find those who want to know more, then teach those who are willing the wisdom and knowledge found in the Bible and about "what it takes to get to heaven."
The 47th annual Mayor's Prayer Breakfast will begin at 6:15 a.m. Friday at the DoubleTree by Hilton Fort Smith City Center, 700 Rogers Ave. The program will begin at 6:45 a.m. and will feature a number of area business leaders, including Jay Richardson, state representative-elect; Pastor Steve Evans of St. Luke Lutheran Church; Sister Judith Marie Keith; Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders; Tim Allen, president of the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce; and Sebastian County Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck.
This year's guest speaker will be S.J. Touhy, a member of the Arkansas Razorbacks football coaching staff. Touhy was part of Southern Methodist University head coach Chad Morris' staff and came with Morris to Arkansas in December. Touhy currently serves as special assistant to the head coach/assistant director of football operations for the Hogs.
But Touhy is likely most recognizable as a member of the family that adopted a young Michael Oher, whose life story was told in the film "The Blind Side" starring Quinton Aaron, Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw. Touhy became Oher's younger brother; a standout athlete in his own right; and a writer, scholar and public speaker.
Touhy is a popular public speaker who most often shares about the importance of kindness, hard work, charity, faith and ambition, according to his biographical information in the prayer breakfast program.
"We always try to get someone with their mind on the Lord," said Dwayne Bell, master of ceremonies for this year's prayer breakfast and the chairman of the event committee. Touhy comes highly recommended as a public speaker, Bell added, saying that the young man is much in demand.
"He was a hard guy to get, but we got him," Bell said proudly.
"Hopefully it will be a message that will lead people to the foot of the cross," Edwards said.
Tickets for the event are $20 and will be available at the door or can be purchased in advance at the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce or by calling Frank Lay at (479) 414-4402. The event typically draws between 300 and 400 attendees each year, said Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders.