35th Annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast Coming Up
Bartow Mayor Billy Simpson welcomes everyone to attend the 35th Annual Mayor’s Sunrise Prayer Breakfast, which will be held Wednesday, March 18, 2020, at the Bartow Civic Center beginning at 7:00 a.m. Doors open at 6:30 a.m.
Guest speaker is Jeffrey Shills, Florida Director of Idols Aside Ministries.
Jeff Shills is from Lakeland, and graduated from the University of Florida in 2002. He recommitted his life to Christ in 2009 and since has been dedicated to bringing the lost to “Know, Love, and Obey our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” he said.
Shills has committed to follow the Lord to every corner that he is called. And that corner is in Lakeland at Idols Aside Ministries.
Idols Aside Ministries seeks to reach “hopeless youth” with the Christian gospel through sports and outdoor recreation.
Middle to high school age ranged youth from 12 to 17; single mothers and fatherless children is the primary demographic for IAM.
The ministry was founded in 2009 by Mark and Becky Wright, who use lodges in Lake Wales and Kentucky to host youth retreats twice a month.
The Lake Wales lodge sits on 92 acres along Highway 60, with an adjacent 212 acres leased out to them, providing them with more than 300 acres they use for hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities.
Mark Wright was inspired to start the ministry while playing football in college. The calling was answered in as Mark founded Idols Aside Ministries in 2009.
He and other Christian athletes didn’t want youth to idolize sports stars; inspiring the name of his ministry, Idols Aside, the very name of which stems from the Second Commandment forbidding false idols.
He and his fellow athletes would set up weekend retreats allowing them to fellowship with youth and offer their personal testimonies.
“There are a lot of fatherless youths and single moms that are hurting, and a lot of people who need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ,” said Shills.
IAM partners with local county organizations such as Florida Baptist Children’s Home, Parker Street Ministries, Integrity Care Homes, Lakeland Grace Academy/Teen Challenge, Youth for Christ, Sheriff Youth Villas, and The Refuge. IAM also mentors local fatherless youth that reside in single mother homes.
Since its humble beginnings, Idols Aside has seen over 1,100 young people who have made the decision to follow Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.
This year’s theme is the one used for the International Day of Prayer, “Rise, Take Your Mat and Walk.” Call the Greater Bartow Chamber of Commerce (863) 533-7125 to reserve your spot. Tickets are $15 and may be purchased at the Bartow Chamber.