This blog post is the first in a new series of blogs through which we plan to gradually introduce each of our Host Home families. Our desire is for you to be inspired by the testimony of their experience as a Host Home. As described by the men of Silent Planet, “The heart of the Gospel is truly alive in these revolutionary families.” They are Serving the Voices!
Meet the Petersons
By: Cathy Hill
As I begin to introduce our RYFO Host Homes, it seemed logical to start with Doug and Michelle Peterson, since they have been hosting bands even before the start of RYFO. The Petersons, along with their children Mekahla and Kendon, live in the Kansas City area and have been serving the voices for 7 years. They estimate that they have welcomed more than 40 bands into their home.
The Petersons have been able to dedicate their entire basement to serving the bands. It’s full of beds, made and ready to sleep in. They have a lot of towels (“they don’t match but still work!”). And there is always a lot of good food for everyone. “People always appreciate food and it puts them at ease,” says Michelle. “Doug loves to smoke pork ribs or roast for pulled pork. I make cheesy potato casserole, salad and dessert to go with it.” And, she adds, there can never be too much popcorn: “We love to introduce people to our favorite topping which is Hidden Valley Ranch Dip powdered mix. It is awesome!”
When I asked the family to share a meaningful Bible passage, they chose one that clearly articulates the RYFO vision: 1 Peter 4:9-10. “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”
Before becoming involved with RYFO, the family did not recognize hospitality as a gifting. Michelle says, “I thought of it as something we just do (be hospitable). Now I understand that it truly is a gift and we are blessed to have it! Our family has been blessed to meet all of the people that we have over the years. Isn’t it is just like our God to provide blessings back to the people who are just trying to serve! Our families thought we were crazy for opening our home up like this; they worried that our kids were going to be abused, illegal things were going to happen, things would be stolen. Absolutely nothing even close to their misgivings has ever happened. Our involvement with RYFO has witnessed to our families in a way that a church service never could. We are grateful!”
A Picnic with Bands
By: Lori George
Jonathan Gunasingham became involved with RYFO the year after he graduated from college. Engineering was his focal point when he attended college, but he was looking for something that blended his passions and interests with a Godly calling. The phrase, “the place you are called is where your deepest longing meets the world’s greatest need” is what Jonathan believed would happen for him. One of his deep passions is music, and he started to wonder if there was a space to craft communities on the road with touring artists, while meeting their practical needs. Jonathan believed this could not only impact the lives of the artists themselves, but also the lives of other artists they shared the road with. He drafted surveys and e-mailed varied artists, reaching out, and somewhere along the line was connected with RYFO.
“I was really drawn to the comprehensive aim of RYFO to meet all needs of touring musicians,” Jonathan shared. “I started to reach out to musicians and set up times at concerts to speak to them about their spiritual, practical, psychological, and emotional needs. When setting up these times, I usually tried to see if I could bring to them something to help them out like care packages and what not. I often had people I was acquainted with contribute items such as baked goods and gift cards.”
Eventually, Jonathan started to dream big and think outside the proverbial box. He was inspired by the amazing gatherings his church put on, and the potlucks that took place before concerts. Jonathan started wondering what it would look like if a tour came through town, and had a giant picnic of sorts before the show, for all artists on the tour. Someone he met at one of the concerts took notice of what Jonathan was up to, and called him one year later to see if he could do a similar outreach for a tour she was booking.
“The tour ended up being Abandon Kansas’s first Canadian tour,” Jonathan shared. “I was excited that the act of service got some steam and others were excited about it. I once again gathered many friends. This time there were more people who came by to hangout and attend the show. They brought TONS of food. The overall night was bittersweet because I discovered the band was having a pretty rough time in Canada; low capacity shows, unaware venues and being robbed the night before the show they played in Toronto. The band was in somewhat low spirits. It was very difficult having such high expectations for the event knowing what the band was navigating. However, it was awesome to form a camaraderie with them and hear that the food, support and love they experienced in Toronto was the best part of the tour. We were also able to send them off with food.”
Praying for the Voices
By: Sydney Fontaine
Music is a beacon in the lives of many. It’s a form of communication that is often taken for granted, but rarely tuned out. Music carries us through our workdays, and serves as the back drop for many monumental experiences. Music has intrinsic value which is exemplified through the profound effect it has on our daily lives.
Have you ever stopped to ask yourself, “What’s going on behind the music?” Musicians are on the front lines of our culture, walking in the authority that we’ve given them by lending an ear to their voice. These individuals speak into the hearts and minds of our generation, and we choose to listen because they allow their passions and beliefs and convictions to spill out of them. As believers and a group of people that are passionate about music, we are called to do more than merely listen to the voices of these cultural warriors. We are called to serve these voices.
So how do you serve? I can think of an excellent way that you can begin this very moment, Prayer!
Prayer is our strongest ammunition against the chaos in this world. Our prayers work in ways that we are unable to. Through prayer we are able to ask God for His insight and intervention in the lives of the musicians that we serve. We are able to submit the things that we desperately want to care for into the hands of a God whose heart for the music community is so much bigger than ours.
Show how would you go about praying for musicians? Here are 10 prayers that you can praying…
Pray first and foremost that these artists would encounter the Lord and be drawn to Him. Pray that the love of Christ would be unavoidable to them as they navigate through the struggles that come with life on the road. Pray that they would embrace the roles they’ve stepped into as “culture-shapers” and role models and that their impact would have positive repercussions. Pray for their physical well-being, that they would have everything they stand in need of, and that in God’s provision He reminds them each of His goodness and faithfulness. Pray that they would have the strength to withstand the temptations that they face both at home and on the road. Pray that they would have the courage to say, “no,” when it would be all too easy to say, “yes.” Pray that they would be constantly aware that their integrity has a value that’s not worth trading for temporary pleasures. Pray that they would be able to combat their loneliness and find genuine, loyal friendships that point them to the Lord. Faithful friendships that transcend state lines are difficult to find! Pray for their families back home, that God would comfort them and bring them peace and understanding as their loved one faces battles that they often can’t explain in a phone call. Pray that God would bring wise individuals to speak truth into their lives at every turn, for their encouragement and sustenance.
Ephesians 6:18 says this: “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” We’re called to pray in accordance with the Holy Spirit’s leading, but pray nonetheless! Let’s not miss this call to intercede on behalf of these musicians. We have the opportunity to call upon the God we serve to provide for and shape those that shape our culture. Let’s serve these voices in a way that will never cease to be effective and LET’S START NOW!
Photo Courtesy of Fire At Will Photography
A behind the scenes view
By: Lori George
I volunteered to work at a well-known Christian artist’s merchandise table two years ago. I had moved to California a mere four weeks prior and viewed volunteering at this event as a unique way for me to meet and network with others. The tour was a rather large one, each gig lasting up to a solid three hours with all the performers combined doing 10-20 minutes worth of material.
The artist I volunteered for not only had their spouse with them on tour, but also their children and their in-laws. After the show, the artist interacted with the long line of fans/supporters at their meet and greet table. Myself and a very small amount of others knew how exhausted this artist truly was. Despite the exhaustion the artist gave out a countless number of autographs, handshakes, hugs, and photos. Much later, after the artist was done for the night, a few more people came up to see the artist. One of them surprised me by making some negative remarks about the artist not staying around long enough to meet with people.
Since that experience and my recent involvement with RYFO, I’ve found myself wondering why these fans were so negative towards this artist. Were they expecting the artist to stay around and meet people all night long? Through RYFO, I was introduced to the idea of being a Different Brand of Fan, one who takes a sincere and genuine interest in the artist as a human being, not just as an artist. A Rebranded Fan looks for ways to love and serve an artist, and cares very little about what they get out of the interaction. It’s all about being an authentic source of encouragement, and pointing the artist towards the love that Christ has for them. Interested in learning more about being a Rebranded Fan?
Watch and share this promo video: A Different Brand of Fan.
By: Rihanna Teixeira
Growing up, we all have big dreams. If you ask a classroom of kindergartners what they want to be when they grow up, you’ll hear answers ranging from astronauts, to doctors, to actors, and teachers. We are born with an internal desire to be and do something great. For me the stage was all I dreamed about.
At the age of six, I discovered my mom’s Amy Grant records (yes, records) and began playing them on repeat. Songs like El Shaddai, Sing Your Praise to the Lord, and Father’s Eyes became my anthem and my family quickly caught on that I had an obsession. Night after night, I would literally spend hours in my room with the music blasting, pretending that I was singing on a large stage, and everyone in the audience was there to see me. Becoming a singer quickly became a focus in my life and at eight years old, my parents finally allowed me to pursue it.
I spent a lot of my time singing and performing at events and in choirs. As I became a teenager, I was a force to be reckoned with. I had no fear in calling and asking random event planners if I could sing at their event. I offered up my talent to anyone who seemed interested. It wasn’t until I was eighteen that I felt like my dreams were finally becoming a reality. I was in Los Angeles for a singing competition and was approached by a man in a shiny suit who claimed that he could make all my dreams come true. My mother and I drove to his office and from there he schmoozed us with a fancy dinner and conversation filled with names of Hollywood big-shots. Before I knew it, I was recording my first demo at Paramount studios; the experience was surreal.
One thing led to another and I found myself on a plane to Atlanta, Georgia to record with a Grammy award-winning producer. This time, I didn’t have my mother, or anyone for that matter, with me. I still remember the fear that overtook me as I stepped off the plane and realized that I would be alone for the next few weeks in a city I knew nothing about. It was during this trip that my voice began to disappear. I remember trying to speak up during the writing sessions if I didn’t like an idea, and I would be quickly shut down. The producer would mock me saying, “I just wrote Mariah’s new album and it’s number one. Do you really think I don’t know what I’m doing?” I ended up recording three songs with him, all of which I hated.
My voice was no longer my own.
Looking back, I realize that what I really needed was support. A ministry like RYFO could have saved me from a lot of anxiety and fear that I was facing alone. I needed someone to process with or just vent to. RYFO’s Host Homes have an amazing opportunity to really speak life back into the areas of musicians lives that may be shut down. I encourage you readers that aren’t part of RYFO’s ministry to consider becoming a host home. In doing so, you could be the one who prevents a musician from losing their voice.
It’s too loud to hear from God!
By: Simeon Lohrmann
Have you ever struggled to hear God’s voice amidst the noise of life? If you’ve ever felt this way you are not alone. Our circumstances and even our surroundings can cause God’s voice to feel distant.
Praying for Musicians
By: Cathy Hill
In the book of Romans, the apostle Paul is writing to some people he has never met but longs to know and serve and share God’s gifts with in person. When our pastor preached on this recently I felt my RYFO antennae go up!
In Romans 1:8, Paul gives thanks to God for these people that he keeps hearing about…”people everywhere keep telling me about your lives of faith”…(1:8 The Message). He says that every time he hears about them, he thanks God for them and he constantly prays for them. This is a great model for my RYFO heart.
So how might I implement Paul’s teaching?
Perhaps each time I hear a song, or when someone mentions an artist, I can thank God for giving these people their gifts and talents. If I know they are artists of faith, I can thank Him that they have chosen to use them to extend His kingdom. I can pray for their ministry of the Gospel through the power of music. I can also pray for the non-believer, that God would put people in their path that would point them towards Him. Whether on the radio, on shuffle on my iPod or streaming in the background, I have the opportunity to tell God how much I appreciate how these musicians use their gifts; whether it be to speak Gospel truth into my life, bring awareness to a cause, or simply do something they love to do. Each time I read a Facebook post or a tweet, I can pray for any needs or cares they have shared (travel concerns, family needs, joys, sorrows, life events…).
As I wrote this post, I heard a song by one band whose bass player recently had surgery to remove a tumor from his knee. Another song played by dear band friends whose drummer recently quit, leaving them with a spot to fill before starting a major tour. Yet another tune was from a disbanded group (and my first-ever hosted band!). With each song I have an opportunity to thank God for these artists and pray for their needs, their careers, and their personal lives.
Thank you Father for the gift of music and the many ways it touches my life. Empower those whom You have called to use it to further Your kingdom, and open the eyes of those who don’t yet recognize You as the giver of all gifts and talents. May I be thankful for them and prayerful on their behalf. Amen!
Serving the Voices in 2014
By: Simeon Lohrmann
Since RYFO began operations in 2009, we’ve always dreamed of being able to connect touring bands with our Host Home missionaries when they are most in need; while they’re on tour. Through a recent partnership with Bravery Transmedia we began working to make that dream a reality.
We are proud to report that with the success of our 2013 year-end fundraising efforts, we now have the funds we need to complete the project with Bravery. That means that in 2014 RYFO will be able to quickly connect our 400+ registered bands with our Host Homes through their mobile phones!
33 individual supporters helped us raise the funds we needed to make this critical improvement to our ministry a possibility. Miraculously 75% of the funds were received on the final day of the campaign! In total, we raised $5,457.50 through the #RYFOmobile fundraiser.
On behalf of the RYFO staff and our Board of Directors, I want to publicly say thank you to all those who supported this campaign. We greatly appreciate your investment in our efforts, and we are honored to be partnered in ministry with each of you.
Click Here to join RYFO’s monthly support team or to give a one-time gift in support of our ministry. All donations are tax-deductible.
Photo Courtesy of Fire At Will Photography
Life and Lyrics
By: Sydney Fontaine
I love music. I love the feeling of strings against my fingers. I love it when you can hear the audience lifting their voices, and see them stomping and clapping to the beat. I love when you can feel a buzz in the air from the music resonating with the people in the room. I love it when the message we bring to the stage impacts people. I love that music is such a diverse art form.
Music isn’t just a string of words to communicate a point. It pulls you into the emotions of the artist. You’re not only hearing their convictions and passions, but you’re experiencing the emotions they’re experiencing. You’re drawn into the picture that they’re painting. That’s a powerful tool, and the effect that it has on us can be life-altering.
One of the biggest things I’ve learned as an artist is that my words carry a limited amount of authority in the lives of those I interact with. What really matters to people is that your actions are in line with the convictions you sing and write about. This realization can be intimidating. It’s easy for me to string together eloquent words on how you can make a difference in the lives of those around you, but until I show you proof, none of it matters.
I pray that my life exemplifies surrender.
That’s why I travel around, casting off the familiar and comfortable and replacing it with a life that demonstrates what I believe. That’s why I play music. I believe God has a plan for our lives that’s bigger than what we could every imagine. I believe that He calls us to love others more than our reputation and personal comfort. I believe in giving it all up to Him every day.
As I’ve had the pleasure of writing for RYFO, it’s spurred me into contemplating what defines the voices that RYFO works so hard to serve. Why do we put up with sleeping on floors and in vans, and driving through the night to get to shows that we may or may not break even at? Because we’ve been a given a platform to bear our hearts to people. We have their ear and we need to take it. For the sake of what we’re called to communicate, we must take that risk.
A lot of people I’ve talked to on the road seem to think this kind of radical obedience to a call is out of reach for them. Don’t fall into that way of thinking! You have just as much (if not more) capacity than I do to live with passion and conviction. Find a way to communicate the message you want your life to convey and go for it.
Music is my medium. What’s yours?
Photo Courtesy of Fire At Will Photography
A Personal Connection
By: Lori George
It’s a rare occasion when one of your all-time favorite musicians reaches out to you and offers you helpful advice. It’s even more of a rare occasion if they share a personal story about their lives that they’ve only shared with their family members and very close friends. So personal in fact, that they never shared it during thousands of interviews with various press all over the world. They entrust you with their story, without your asking, hoping that you will only share it with others who might benefit from it.
That’s exactly what happened to me.
In the not-so-distant past, I found myself in the midst of some very unfortunate circumstances. Absolutely none of my relatives or friends had ever been through what I was attempting to navigate on a daily basis. There were no books, magazines, or websites that served as a “how to.” I humbled myself, and on a whim, I made the decision to open a line of communication with one of my all-time favorite musicians. To my complete and utter disbelief this artist became genuinely interested in my life, and wanted to keep in touch so they could check in on me and offer me some pointers. I gladly exchanged contact info with them and four days later I learned from this artist that when they were my age they too had been navigating the same situations I was navigating. This artist shared with me their personal heartache and their daily fears. One example they shared was how they’d survived living in an old abandoned building. Since sleeping at night wasn’t an option, this person stayed awake throughout the night and read their Bible until day break. Later on those times served as the foundation upon which their catalogues of albums were built.
I never would have imagined this person went through so much. They seemed so incredibly together. Not just their outer appearance, but their overall presence on stage, how they interacted with others, and during interviews on radio, television, and magazines. I never imagined the pain, anger, confusion, depression, anxiety and doubt they’d endured. In light of my experience I’ve found myself reflecting on the interactions between musicians and fans. I wonder what the music community would look like if musicians and fans started interacting on a more personal level. What kind of change would that introduce in their lives?
As a contributing writer for RYFO I’ve begun to realize that my interaction can and should be the norm rather than the exception. I invite you to learn, as I have, about becoming A Different Brand of Fan. With a new perspective and approach on being a music fan, you may end up making a personal connection with one of your favorite musicians.