By Doug Stauffer
I had the distinct pleasure of attending the 2nd Annual Commissioner’s Prayer Breakfast sponsored by Mel Ponder in conjunction with Rocky Bayou Christian School. I caught up with Commissioner Ponder and asked him several questions.
What led you to start this gathering? Mel—It was on my heart to create an opportunity for Okaloosa county pastors to gather as a family reunion of sorts. This county-wide gathering includes faith leaders, business and community leaders, and elected officials. I do this in my role as a citizen who also serves as a county commissioner. I believe in unity, camaraderie and wisdom.
What part does Rocky Bayou Christian school contribute to coordinating the event? Mel—Doc Mike Mosley has been a gracious supporter, and his team manages the logistics. Additionally, he works with One Twenty Bistro to put on a delicious spread.
What is the purpose of the Annual Prayer Breakfast? The theme has been “In One Accord,” because I am a big believer in the corporate body of believers working together. The Bible repeatedly expresses that God did amazing things when the believers were in one accord.
What is your vision for the future of the Annual Prayer Breakfast? Mel—I want this breakfast to honor every role that believers play as we assemble in one accord to pray (Ephesians 4:16).
Why do you think prayer is so important for this county, state and nation? Our churches are independently to be Houses of Prayer with a heavenly mandate to pray. Our forefathers were people of prayer, making prayer a part of this nation’s DNA. It is a foundational element that allows us to see heaven invade the earth with God’s goodness prevailing.
I want to thank you for recognizing the veterans, active-duty personnel, along with the pastors. How have you been so successful in combining politics with the spiritual arena?
Mel—We should be the same person in and out of every arena of life, loving God and loving others. Christians are to be the light of the world. No matter the venture, we carry that light with us. There should not be any separation between our personal and professional lives. Christian principles should be the same ideals presented by politicians and preachers alike. We should exercise our faith on Monday just as much as we do on Sunday.
How did this prayer breakfast personally impact you? Mel—When people go into their churches, they know who is on their team, but we need to know the many others in our community on our team too. I become very inspired when I see multiple churches sit together at the same table as Christ’s fellow ambassadors.
I am sure you received some feedback; how were others impacted? Mel—The feedback I received was very positive. Some mentioned that the prayers were powerful, and others said that they needed this time set aside to gather together. The goal was for people to hear messages from God and leave full of hope, and evidently, that happened.
I have traveled the world several times and have seen the best and worst. I wish every community could be just like ours, which I consider one of the best. I pray that the spirit of this prayer breakfast impacts the other 364 days of the year and reverberates up to heaven and back.