The annual prayer breakfast is a time of inspiration as speakers share insightful messages interspersed with uplifting musical selections. The purpose of the prayer breakfast is “to provide a safe place to be inspired to pray for our leaders and to consider the love and relevance of Jesus” (www.nslpb.ca). The event draws people from all walks of life and faith backgrounds — business, non-profit, faith-based, military, politics, education, government and community.
Event chair David Finlayson observed that “Jesus is working in our churches” by getting back to the original mission of making disciples and invigorating our youth through charitable works. He also noted that immigrants are finding their community within their churches and people are re-engaging with the original mission of Jesus Christ.
The 2018 prayer breakfast marked a first: two keynote speakers — Cheyenne Jones and Jean-Michel Blais. Each comes from different backgrounds, experiences and perceptions, as well as different sides of the legal system, but they both share a common condition — post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — and both were saved by their faith.
Survivor, warrior and victorious: these are a few words that describe Nova Scotian Cheyenne Jones. Through childhood trauma and sexual abuse, Jones was led into the world of prostitution. Because of self-hatred and low self-worth, she says, “I let go of all my goals and dreams. Someone like me cannot be valued and loved.”
During a personal crisis, Jones had an experience in which she felt the love of Jesus Christ, the surety He would always be with her and that “nothing is impossible with God.” That knowledge gave her the courage to walk out of the sex industry forever. Her life experience drives her to help the most vulnerable of people and to strive to “speak truth, hope and love” in her life.
Jones is passionate about helping girls and women recognize their self-worth as well as helping vulnerable youth break free from the physical and mental chains of human trafficking. As a passionate youth advocate worker with Halifax’s Open Door Centre, she helps those affected by exploitation to find forgiveness, hope and restoration. Jones says her greatest joy is laughing with her three children and coaching a Mini Girls basketball team.
Jean-Michel Blais has over 29 years of policing experience, during which he survived a horrific ordeal at a great price. He was seconded to the United Nations in Haiti as a frontline police officer in 1995 and as the deputy police commissioner in charge of operations in 2008. In January 2010, following the devastating Haiti earthquake, he returned to personally lead the recovery of the remains of two Canadian police officers and the senior management of the UN mission, who had perished in the collapse of the UN headquarters.
Upon Blais’ arrival in Haiti, he toured the area of devastation where his former command post now lay in ruins. Falling through debris headfirst, he was severely injured. Nearby was a damaged church from which he heard “voices raised in praise.” Psalm 23:4 came immediately to his mind: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
He says, “Faith [was] born of a moment when surrounded by death.” The scenes of destruction, horrific multiple deaths and his own painful emotional and physical experiences resulted in a diagnosis of PTSD. In October 2012, after 25 years in the RCMP, Blais retired at the rank of chief superintendent to become the fourth chief of the Halifax Regional Police Department, where he works currently.
God took Jones, a broken, tormented girl, and gave her a choice — a choice to believe that she is who God says she is. God gave Chief Blais the choice to hold onto the faith that there is more to life than what is in front of him, to be “anti-fragile.” They both choose to believe “God can heal us and redeem us” and feel it is important to be educated enough to be “part of the rescue team and the healing process.” They say, “All of us are worth fighting for!”
Elder David A. Bednar of the Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated: “[The Savior] has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy. He can reach out, touch, succor, heal, and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us to do that which we could never do relying only upon our own power. Indeed, His yoke is easy and His burden is light” (“Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease,” Apr. 2014 general conference).