Prayer breakfast is just one aspect of business ministry
A Christian business leaders' ministry will host the 2019 Metro Prayer Breakfast on April 17 at the Cox Convention Center.
More than 1,000 people are expected to attend the event coordinated each year by the Connecting Business Men to Christ (CBMC) of Oklahoma City. This year's breakfast will feature Michael Franzese, son of a notorious leader of New York's Colombo crime family, as keynote speaker.
Brent Vawter, area director of CBMC-OKC, said the ministry may be best known for the popular breakfast.
After all, the event has been held in downtown Oklahoma City for the past 35 years. Guests have included Oklahoma City's mayor, police chief, Oklahoma County sheriff and a wide range of civic and elected leaders across the state like Gov. Mary Fallin. U.S. Sen. James Lankford also has attended the event in the past.
Vawter said the prayer event has grown over the years, and his organization is thrilled. However, he said there's much more to CBMC than an annual morning gathering. It's an international organization operating in 90 countries around the world.
The prayer breakfast hosted in Oklahoma City and in other places around the globe serves as a way to connect Christians. It also helps pique the interest of individuals who wish to know more about the Gospel and starting a relationship with Christ.
Vawter said CBMC has small groups in different parts of the metro area that meet throughout the year. He said it's to those small groups that some people attending the breakfast often are linked once they show an interest.
He said there are two groups in Edmond, one in Yukon and several in Oklahoma City.
Vawter said one of the nonprofit's goals is discipleship so men are paired with other men who may serve as mentors to them on their spiritual journey. The idea is to help people as they try to reflect Christian ideals while navigating the workplace.
Vawter said this applies to both people who own businesses or who are in leadership positions and those who are employees.
"We help men step forward. Are you in a position of making decisions? How do you do that without destroying your witness? How do you succeed in business in such a way that you have the opportunity to witness? Also, how do we live out our faith when we're not responsible for establishing the culture?" Vawter said.
He said one longtime CBMC member became involved in the ministry in 1965 when he was in his 20s and has continued to be part of the organization by helping other men.
"The mission is to pass this on. We've got so many men in this marketplace who've been impacted by CBMC," Vawter said.
Meanwhile, groups for young professional CBMC members are starting in the metro area.
Vawter said the first group will begin in April and a second will start in June. He said businesses were asked to send CBMC their emerging leaders who are interested in being part of the ministry's newest small groups. He said the groups will be made up of those individuals, as well as others who may be entrepreneurs.
Women join in
Vawter said it's important to note that the organization is not just for men.
Many women attend the popular annual prayer breakfast, for starters.
And Vawter said the organization has what could be described as a women's auxiliary or affiliate called the Community of Christian Business Women.
In the metro area, the women's group meets for a lunchtime gathering on the second Monday of the month. An evening meeting is held on the second Monday of the month for women who can't attend a lunch-hour gathering.
Mona Earnest and Melissa Leyba serve as co-founders of the metro chapter.
Ernest, who works in human resources, said she learned about CBMC from a business leader who had a small group meet at his office. When she asked about women having a similar opportunity, he encouraged her to start one of the affiliate groups for women.
"Our goal is to connect and encourage women," Earnest said.
At a recent evening meeting, the group discussed the virtue of integrity and the importance of reflecting Christ in the workplace and the world.
Leybe said the two women's meetings currently are in northwest Oklahoma City, but they are hoping to start a group in the south part of the metro area.
She and Earnest said they need at least two women to help get it started.
"We are praying for leaders for a southside group. We are just trying to do what God wants us to do. We are running behind Him," Earnest said.
Guest has compelling story
Vawter said Franzese, this year's Metro Prayer Breakfast guest speaker, is expected to share the captivating story of his life.
He was listed among the "Fifty Most Wealthy and Powerful Mafia Bosses" by Fortune Magazine at age 35. In 1985, Franzese was indicted on 14 counts of racketeering, counterfeiting and extortion. He pleaded guilty and accepted a 10-year prison sentence and vowed to walk away from the mob.
These days, Franzese spends his days sharing his personal testimony of finding redemption and faith through Christ.
What: 36th annual CBMC Metro Prayer Breakfast
When: 6:30 a.m. April 17.
Where: Great Hall, Cox Convention Center, 1 Myriad Gardens.
Cost: $40 per person; sponsorships are available.
Information: 302-2262; cbmc.live/mpb19.