Who is IBR?
Integrity Business Referrals was founded in April 2010 by Lew Frye.
Lew saw the need for cooperation among Christian business people, pastors and believers. When it comes time to make a purchase decision, it would seem to make sense that Christian buyers would prefer supporting Christian businesses. But in reality, there seemed to be very little loyalty in relation to the values and beliefs of the business or owner of the business that buyers are supporting.
Lew’s vision was to create a network of reputable, Bible-believing business people that the marketplace could rely on. By supporting a Christian-owned business, you are really supporting the entire Church and the Body of Christ. Isn’t that what we, as believers, are called to do?
Here is Lew’s story
It started with being drawn by God to a relationship with Jesus and later being led to be active in Christian Marketplace Ministry.
But then I had to ask: “Is this all there is? Is this what success is supposed to feel like? Is there more?”
In 1977, I founded a construction business in Brandon, FL, and began building duplexes and homes in that area and prospered greatly. My wife, Marleen, and I bought a beautiful lot in the mountains for a retreat to be built later, and we began planning for our new custom home (our dream home) in Brandon.
On a Friday night in early 1979, Marleen and I went to dinner at one of our favorite steakhouses in Tampa called “Brewmasters”. Well, you can guess from the name. There was free beer, wine and peanuts while waiting for our table. I usually had too much! On this particular night, it was different. When we were seated, we had a great meal. When we finished, we just looked across the table at one another, with our new “dream home” in the planning stages, a new car, vacation property in North Carolina, plenty of money in the bank and more coming in.
As we sat there that night, we said to each other, “Is this it?”
“Is this what happens when people are successful, and is this what success is supposed to feel like?”
Our barns were full (using biblical language) but our hearts were empty. Even though we had each other and loved each other, there was something missing, and we didn’t have a clue what that was. So we began to search in psychic books, movies, and mainstream literature.
Everything but the Bible….
Then it happened!
We were invited to a Saturday night dinner party at the home of good friends, Dr. Geoffrey Weihe (our dentist), and his wife, Mary. We had no clue what we were in for when we went to that party, but it was a complete set up by the Holy Spirit. We knew something was up when they actually prayed before we ate. Marleen and I thought that was a little strange. It just wasn’t what was usually done within our circle of friends. The Holy Spirit was all over us, conviction came heavily upon us, and it wasn’t really a salvation message, just a testimony by Dr. Peter O Knight, a noted cardiologist in Tampa.
We wept all night after going home and went to church that very next day and every Sunday after that. We wept every Sunday at church for the next two months. Everyone at church could see that something was going on inside us. Those that were “born again” knew. Some, sadly, didn’t have a clue and probably didn’t want to ask. The born-again Christians gathered around us quickly, and a whole new life began, right there at “Immanuel Lutheran Church” in Brandon, FL.
Since that life-changing night in 1979, our Christian walk led us to move to Lakeland, FL, and to spend 18 wonderful years at Carpenters Home Church under Pastor Karl Strader, where we received the greatest training that any Christian could hope for.
Then came 9 years of being blessed at Abundant Life Church of God in Lakeland, where we founded a group known as Abundant Business Network under Pastor Ron Stewart. In February 2012, we felt led to move to “Ignited Church” under Pastor Steven Strader. Today we are fellowshipping at Renovation Church, Lakeland, FL. , and are affiliated with many great churches in Central Florida and Tennessee.
I have been married to my wife, Marleen, since 1967. We have 2 great children and 3 wonderful grandchildren. I am a general contractor in Lakeland and have been licensed for over 35 years. I am active in business and love the opportunities to minister.
In mid-2009, God revealed a vision to connect Christian business owners, entrepreneurs, self-employed, and marketplace leaders together to prosper their businesses. This would be necessary to fulfill the mandate we have as Christian business people to fund the ministries necessary to bring in and disciple the wave of new believers that are coming according to every prophetic voice I have heard in the last few years.
God showed me in Genesis 11:6 the great authority and power that is available to people who are “one people” and speak the “same language”. In other words, those who are like-minded and communicate well with each other.
It is my vision that Christians from all denominations that are truly “born again”, “members of a body of believers”, “tithers” and “have a good reputation” will join together with us. Our common purpose is to fulfill Deut 8:18, and the devil won’t be able to stop us!