MIDWEST CITY — A person willing to stand up for what is right — no matter what — can be the kind of change agent that Martin Luther King Jr. became.
So said preachers, civic leaders and other guest speakers at Midwest City's 15th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast on Monday at the Reed Conference Center.
Breakfast speakers, staying true to the event's theme, “Courage in the Face of Adversity,” urged attendees to face down any obstacles standing in their way of making their neighborhoods and communities better for future generations.
Oklahoma City police Lt. Paco Balderrama, one of three guest speakers, said King is a shining example of the theme.
“He was threatened. He was cursed. He was belittled. He had the moral strength to carry on. Why? Because civil rights is a moral, honorable issue worth fighting for,” Balderrama said.
Angela Monson, Oklahoma City School Board chairman, and Rodney Farrow, a Midwest City High School graduate and University of Oklahoma student, also spoke.
About 300 people attended the morning gathering, with welcoming remarks given by event Chairman Joyce Jackson and Midwest City Mayor Jack Fry.
Balderrama said he thinks one of the greatest dangers to society is the breakdown of the family unit. Citing bleak statistics regarding the family backgrounds of youths he interacts with on a daily basis, Balderrama encouraged attendees to find and offer love and guidance to young people and families who need positive role models in their lives.
Monson urged attendees to commit to creating the kind of world they would want their grandchildren and great-grandchildren to inherit. She said the changes needed in education, health care, the justice system or the job market must come from individuals who feel that the responsibility for such transformation lies within them.
“Our future will hold us accountable for what we do today,” Monson said. “You see, we must act today, right now, and that action must be out of a sense of love for one another.”
Farrow's presentation was laced with humor, but he spoke seriously about the danger of complacency as communities face economic hardships and other troubles.
“Certain species of animals die out because they cannot adapt to change. Remember, humans are animals, too,” Farrow said. “Our only enemy is ourselves.”
Several local preachers gave prayers and remarks, including the Rev. Lee Cooper, senior pastor of Prospect Church, and Trevor Williams, campus pastor of LifeChurch.tv's Midwest City campus.
Williams encouraged the faith community to set aside doctrinal differences to come together to help the suffering in the community.
“Literally, the local church is the hope of the world — Your hands and feet,” Williams said, praying to God.
“Help us to honor his memory by how we live,” Williams said of King.