“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?' And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!'”
— Isaiah 6:8
MIDWEST CITY — Guest speakers at a popular holiday prayer breakfast on Monday urged attendees to live a life of service to others just as Martin Luther King Jr. implored crowds during his sermons and speeches decades ago.
The Rev. Semaj Vanzant and attorney David Slane each talked about King's legacy of servanthood during their keynote speeches at the 17th annual Midwest City Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast. Theme of the event, held at the Sheraton Hotel-Reed Conference Center, 5800 Will Rogers Road, was “Service Empowers.”
Vanzant and Slane drew applause and standing ovations from the audience.
Vanzant, senior pastor of an Oklahoma City United Methodist Church called The Christ Experience, quoted Scripture from the Book of Isaiah as he told attendees that no matter their circumstances, they could find plenty of places to serve others in need of aid in Oklahoma. He said they could look to King's example if they found the work difficult, but they must not give up.
“This world does not need people who give up when times get hard. This world does not need people who will escape when things get rough,” Vanzant said.
“I'm so glad this Monday morning that Dr. King did not give up.”
Vanzant said the Prophet Isaiah volunteered to answer the Lord's call before he knew what the Lord was asking him to do — a testament to his faith. Like Isaiah, King also walked in faith describing this experience in one of his oft-quoted sayings: “Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.”
Vanzant said instead of putting conditions on their obedience to God, people should serve no matter how “dirty” the service opportunity or project. He said teen mothers are in need of guidance from mature women, young men are in need of male mentors, the incarcerated need to know the community hasn't forgotten about them, the homeless need shelter, natural disaster victims need aid and individuals caught up in sex trafficking need rescuing.
He said these issues that trouble Oklahoma communities should be enough to spark passion in the hearts of people who seek to embody the ideals King preached about.
“God may not be touching your heart with hot coals but God is altering cold hearts to serve with passion for such a time as this,” Vanzant said.
Slane said he lived a life of relative comfort until his wife died unexpectedly five years ago. He said his family crisis spurred him to do some soul searching and seek his life's purpose. He said he began to help others battling injustice.
Slane, like Vanzant, shared several bleak statistics about life in Oklahoma. He said they should inspire more people to sacrifice their time and attention to help make positive changes in the state.
“Ask yourself ‘Am I too busy? Does it cost too much? Is your plate too full? Are you afraid of criticism? Are you at home like I was — comfortable?” he said.
Earlier, in his welcome to prayer breakfast guests, Midwest City Mayor Jack Fry said it was good to see attendees offering to give up their chairs for others as the conference center room filled. Fry said the breakfast started in the smaller Midwest Community Center so the large crowd was a testament to the event's growing popularity in the metro area.