Men’s Rally in the Valley focuses and inspires | News, Sports, Jobs

Staff photo / R. Michael Semple Jeffrey Robinson, left, bows his head — with the cross over his shoulder — as Pastor Ralph Edwards raises his hands during the Men’s Rally in the Valley on Saturday at the Covelli Center in downtown Youngstown. The annual rally seeks to bring men together in Christian unity for prayer, fellowship and teaching, and features several inspirational speakers. The all-day gathering’s theme was “But God,” taken from Ephesians 6:12, which states the importance of wrestling not against others, but against the rulers of darkness in the world, as well as spiritual wickedness.

YOUNGSTOWN — Glen Duncan didn’t come to a longtime religious gathering with high expectations, though he expected to leave with high hopes.

“These are difficult times in life,” Duncan observed. “Everyone is looking for peace and rest, and there’s so much trouble going on.”

At the invitation of friends — and a desire to be a source of inspiration to others — Duncan made the 25-mile trip on his motorcycle from his Leetonia home to the Covelli Center downtown to attend the annual Men’s Rally in the Valley on Saturday.

The all-day gathering’s theme was “But God,” taken from Ephesians 6:12, which states, in essence, the importance of wrestling not against others, but against the rulers of darkness in the world, as well as spiritual wickedness.

Duncan, a member of the Salem Methodist Bible Church since 2018, said he hoped to glean the messages proffered at the rally and apply some of them in his efforts to guide others. Despite the challenges society is presenting, it’s imperative to keep one’s focus on God, he added.

“God’s still in control, no matter what goes on in life,” Duncan continued.

One of the six main speakers was Josh Lytle, who, along with his father, Donny, launched the nonprofit and faith-based Family Care Ministries in East Liverpool.

Lytle shared details related to his 12 years of drug addictions, overdoses and incarceration, and how God helped turn his life around.

“In January 2010, I was a broken, miserable, rundown heroin addict,” Lytle recalled, adding that nothing helped him kick the addiction until he turned to God and was led on a far different path.

Even when seeking God’s assistance, however, life sometimes tossses a “curve ball,” making it appear that things may be out of control. Nevertheless, it’s vital to resist succumbing to fear and timidity, both of which can cause some to give up, and replace those with faith and the belief that God can give people the power to handle whatever challenges arise, Lytle explained.

He also said he feels the Mahoning Valley is on the cusp of seeing “a harvest of blessings,” and that we all can be transformed and empowered by the Word of God.

Lytle also asked attendees to stand and make a commitment to relinquish fear in their lives and lead their families in healthier, God-driven ways.

The others who spoke was Willie Robertson, the star and producer of the A&E series “Duck Dynasty;” the Rev. Jeff Swogger, who started The Wisdom Center of Greater Youngstown church; Bob Pavlich, chief executive officer of Youngstown-based Adult & Teen Challenge, Ohio Valley; the Rev. Anwar Fazal, who started Eternal Life Ministry in 2001 in Pakistan; and retired Army Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin, who served 36 years in the Army and is executive vice president of the Family Research Council in Washington, DC

The rally also featured testimonials from those with Teen Challenge, musical selections and opportunities for attendees to be baptized.

In addition, a variety of resource tables were set up that featured nearly 50 ministries. Also available were a variety of compact discs, T-shirts, pamphlets and books, including several that the Rev. Derrick D. Scott had written.

“This rally is a great opportunity for me to bring healing, restoration and recovery to the whole area,” said Scott, pastor of Alpha & Omega Ministries in Warren.

One of his books, “Produce Your Seed,” is geared toward helping men be better fathers to their sons and daughters, bringing back a value system that calls for taking better care of and supporting one’s children and developing a closer relationship with God while bringing the family back into sharper focus, Scott explained.

The pastor, who also is an Air Force veteran and a cousin of the late Coretta Scott King, recently returned from Buffalo, NY, where he prayed for the city as well as the loved ones of the 10 people who were killed in the May 14 mass shooting at a Tops grocery store.

Scott also recalled having preached in much of the South and added he wants to reach out to all of northeast Ohio.

Also remembered was Walter L. “Bing” Newton, the Men’s Rally in the Valley’s founder who died March 12. He was 87.

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