Everyone can use a little prayer and Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin is no exception as he came to Corbin Monday for the inaugural Southeastern Kentucky Prayer Breakfast hosted by Forward Community Church.
In a room filled with local and state officials, first responders and members of the community at The Corbin Center, prayers were offered up for the first responders, national leaders and local and state leaders.
“It was something we really wanted to do to honor the leadership of the community today because there was enough influence in this room that really can change southeastern Kentucky,” said Drew Mahan, Pastor at Forward Community Church.
Mahan said he had the privilege of meeting the Governor at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C.
Mahan recalled out after the breakfast, the Kentucky contingent was asked to meet with a special guest is a small room down the hall.
The guest turned out to be Gov. Bevin.
“He stayed with us for about 90 minutes and it was there that I was able hear him speak from his heart,” Mahan said of the meeting.
“It was very clear to me that whatever decisions the Governor makes on a daily basis and no matter whether folks agree or disagree with those decisions, the leader of our Commonwealth goes to bed each night believing that he has listened to the Lord and he has made the best decision for the people,” Mahan said.
Bevin told those assembled that they are blessed to live in a great country like the United States and a great state in Kentucky.
Bevin reminded the audience that when they say the Pledge of Allegiance, there is a line about the country being “one nation under God, indivisible,” and the state has a motto that reminds its citizens “United we stand, divided we fall.”
“These are things that so often we take for granted,” Bevin said.
Bevin asked everyone in the audience under the age of 21 to stand and be recognized.
“This is the future,” Bevin said of those standing. “This is exactly why the things we are talking about, the things we are bringing about matter.”
Bevin said as part of the effort of raising and guiding the next generation, individuals must be mindful of the example they are setting by their words and actions.
Bevin said as governor he understands that he is not only an example to his own family but to families all across the Commonwealth.
Bevin recalled an ice cream shop in Louisville that he and his family frequented and where many of the employees may not have been old enough to vote, but they had family members that didn’t see eye-to-eye with his policies.
However, when the storeowner heard the employees’ comments, instead of admonishing the employees, she told the employees to watch how Bevin’s family left the restaurant, cleaning up the table and throwing away the trash.
“This woman said to them, take a look at these children. The man that you were just talking about, the man that you don’t particularly like and don’t think we want in Kentucky is raising children that you wish for as people who work here and clean up after people, wish there were more people like that that came in,” Bevin said.
“The message that I took from that is that people are always watching us,” Bevin added. “And the things that we do matter tremendously.”
“Actions do in fact speak louder than words,” Bevin said.
Bevin paraphrased Paul’s letter to Timothy in the Bible in which he says that he is grateful that God found him at just the right moment.
“This is a guy who had been killing Christians,” Bevin said.
“He wasn’t asking, Gee, I wish I had been found earlier because of all the things I wouldn’t have done,” Bevin said.
“When you are on a journey somewhere in your life, you may be exactly where God needs you be right now,” Bevin said adding that God may have big plans for someone in attendance that will change the life of someone in southeastern Kentucky.
“We do need a God who raises people up and brings people down,” Bevin said adding public officials serve by the grace of God.
“God’s in charge!” Bevin said. “We know that.”
Bevin asked those in attendance to think about where God is going to call them when they leave this place.
“Maybe there is something you need to be doing,” Bevin said. “Maybe there is something you have thought of that you have been ignoring.”
Bevin encouraged members of the audience to find someone that needs them and intercede on their behalf with God.
“Let them be aware of how intentional you are,” Bevin said noting in Paul’s letter to Timothy, Paul tells Timothy to be bold.
Bevin said he understands that there are many people across the Commonwealth that do not agree with his Christian beliefs and he is okay with that.
“Be unapologetic about your faith,” Bevin said.
“I answer to the voters at the ballot box, but as surely as I stand here, I’m more concerned about answering to my creator,” Bevin said. “I would encourage you to think the same way.
“Know what you believe. Be able to articulate it. Be a shepherd rather than a sheep. Because the world desperately needs people of spiritual conviction to step up and be bold,” Bevin said.
Bevin pointed to Whitley County Clerk Kay Schwartz as an example of someone who has taken the message to be bold to heart.
Following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2015 that legalized gay marriage across the country, Schwartz refused to abide by decision, stating she did not have the new forms that replaced “bride” and “groom” with “first party” and “second party.”
Protestors and supporters gathered around the Whitley County Courthouse soon after.
“You have been a witness to many, even people who don’t necessarily agree with you or agree with your faith, or any of the rest of it,” Bevin told Schwartz. “There are very few people who have the willingness when everyone else, the mockery, the ridicule, everything else is saying to do otherwise. And I applaud you for that.”