Six years ago, David Braun was thinking about leaving his profession.
“I don’t think I want to teach anymore,” he said in prayer to God. “I’m tired. This is hard.”
Teachers and administrators, he said, were burdened and weary and ready to surrender. But the Waimea Canyon Middle School music teacher didn’t quit.
“God told me, keep doing what you’re doing,” Braun said Saturday.
So Braun and his wife began praying in the mornings. They invited teachers and others to join them, and some did. It made a difference.
“The things that followed are only possible by the hand of God,” said the Kauai Teacher of the Year for 2016-17.
Braun was one of several speakers during the 13th annual Mayor’s Prayer Luncheon at Kilohana Luau Pavilion.
Pastors and community leaders, including PMRF Capt. Vincent Johnson and County Councilman Arthur Brun, led prayers for government, military and law enforcement. They prayed for tourism, businesses and agriculture sustainability. And they prayed for marriages, churches, families, youth and for an end to drug abuse and suicide on Kauai.
Nearly 1,000 people turned out for the event that included praise, music and dance on a cloudy, windy, rainy morning. At times, they raised their hands and closed their eyes. Some often said, “Amen.”
“Feel the wind? That’s the Holy Spirit, guys,” said Pastor Silvin Galiza, pastor with Aloha Church.
Guest speaker Jim Burns, an author and president and executive director of HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University, spoke on “Honoring Fathers: The Power of Being there.”
He quoted from the Bible, Malachi 4:6: “And God will turn the heart of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers.”
“I actually think that’s happening in Hawaii,” he said. “I also think it’s happening around the world.”
Burns mixed humorous and touching personal stories of faith and family to drive home his point that fathers have a great impact on their children.
His own father, Burns said, battled alcoholism, gave up drinking when he was in his 60s and became a Christian.
“I don’t want to say he was an assistant to Billy Graham, but he was a good man,” Burns said.
He said if children are doing well, society will flourish. If children are struggling, society will struggle.
“Really the goal here is to help families succeed, and if we help families succeed, we’re going to help society to succeed,” he said.
He urged parents to do as Jesus did and welcome, embrace and love children.
“Presence matters,” Burns said. “So you bless kids with your presence.”
Kids, he said, are craving affection but often not receiving it at home, and it leads them to do things they shouldn’t.
Burns called on fathers to show affection for their children.
“If that’s uncomfortable for you, I have three words for you: Get over it,” Burns said.
And he called on dads to value their children and not let work, recreation or even church activities be their priorities over their sons and daughters.
“We’re just so busy doing good things, we miss the most important things,” he said.
“When people are busy, they become overcommitted and under- connected with their primary relationships and that’s a lot of us in the church,” he said.
Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. asked fathers to be present, affectionate, responsible and understanding. Relationships will be strengthened and blessings will flow, he said.
“It’s not about the money, father, it’s not about the material things, father,” Carvalho said in a prayer. “It’s about the blessings from you.”
Rocky Sasaki of Kauai Island Ministries, one of the sponsors, said the prayer luncheon was one of the best. He said the participation of people from so many fields and from different denominations was wonderful to see.
“It’s been a real encouragement,” he said.