Serving the Voices Blog

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Grace Unplugged


Grace Unplugged
By Simeon Lohrmann

The RYFO staff recently had the honor of pre-screening Director Brad Silverman’s new film, Grace Unplugged. The film poses a question that many artists have been faced with:

Would you give up what you need to get everything you want?

As many artists have done, the film’s main character Gracie Trey (played by AJ Michalka) leaves home to pursue a music career in LA. Unlike most, Gracie quickly finds herself in the good graces of a major label with the opportunity to be an overnight “success” story. Amidst growing popularity, Gracie begins to reflect on the costs of her new found fame when she befriends an intern at her label named Quentin (played by Michael Welch).

Quentin challenges Gracie to consider the benefit of gaining all she wants in exchange for what she really needs (Matthew 16:26). The genuine Christ-like love and care Quentin and his family extend to Gracie serves to demonstrate the influence a Rebranded Fan and a Host Home can have in the life of a musician.

On behalf of the RYFO staff, I recommend Grace Unplugged for any audience. As RYFO seeks to inspire, equip and mobilize more Quentin’s to show and share Christ’s love with musicians, the film is especially beneficial for those who are unfamiliar with the unique temptations and realities that exist in the music community. Grace Unplugged open in theaters everywhere next Friday, October 4th. Check out the official trailer here: Grace Unplugged.


SOUND The Emcee


SOUND The Emcee
By Nick Greenwood

As a pastor who oversees music in a local church, I get the distinct privilege to regularly walk with a group of musicians – some of the most creatively minded people! My role as a pastor in the church is not to ensure that excellent music is made or even provided to the congregation for their worship experiences. The offices of the Church (apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers) are to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry” (Ephesians 4:11-16). Therefore, my job is to ensure that the musicians we touch are being discipled in the Lord. If that is happening, the rest falls in to place as He builds it.

I’d like you to meet Mike…

Mike and I meet up every couple of weeks for a lunch or coffee to talk about faith, ministry and life. Besides being my friend, he is a musician within our church. Mike has an involved testimony and part of it includes how God used music to call him closer to Himself, particularly through Hip Hop. So these days, Mike is making himself available to those in our community who “do” Hip Hop. As an artist himself, Mike is learning how to love the artist more than the opportunity to do art. And his quest is leading him to a place where the genuine love and servitude he gives to his unbelieving Hip Hop community is resulting in artists flocking his way. God is positioning him to be a hub of influence, and it’s exciting to watch! Mike shares his time and the Hip Hop beats he makes with other artists that need them.

Mike is a different brand of fan.

Check out Mike’s Music on Facebook – SOUND The Emcee

A Different Brand of Fan


A Different Brand of Fan
By Julia Saites

You know Jesus and you’ve had your life beautifully wrecked by Him. He’s given you a love you desire to share with others. You can’t help it. You love Him. His love has transformed your life in a way that sometimes you can’t explain, and yet sometimes the explanation rolls out of your mind and off your tongue with no effort at all.

Love spurs you to action.

You have a passion for music. The notes of the melody and the rhythm augment your story playing like a soundtrack underneath your life. This passion for music and the Jesus you love have collided exploding into a desire to share His love in the music community.

Love spurs you to action.

You see beyond the lights and smoke, and past the waves of raised hands moving in sync. You wonder if they’ve eaten today and what they struggle with. You have a keen sense of knowing the difference between physical and spiritual exhaustion and are willing and able to offer relief for both.

Love spurs you to action.

If you resonate with the description above, we invite you to visit and learn more about how you can join RYFO in Serving the Voices.

To Feel Alive


To Feel Alive
by Julia Saites, RYFO Communications Coordinator

I don’t get out much. I’ve worked from home for the last 7 years and before that I ran a business out of a great office on Sunset Boulevard – by myself. I admit I love being alone. But every now and again I am reminded that while mostly my solitude brings me pleasure, truly, I feel alive when I am doing something for someone else. Sometimes we call this serving. What if, as we moved about our lives, we didn’t intentionally go out and serve, we just lived? Lived to benefit others.

The last weekend of July, I had the opportunity to participate with RYFO at the Clarity Conference in Albuquerque, NM. This 1st annual conference was put on by Solid Youth Ministry at All Nations Assembly of God. The Clarity Conference would answer the question: What is worship? RYFO, along with other ministries, was invited to be a part of the conference offering opportunities to serve as an act of worship.

The music was wonderful, the presentations beautiful and the speakers spoke transforming words – but honestly the thing that stood out for me, and still stands out is that every single thing that was done – from reconstructing the stage in the sanctuary, the installation of ambient lighting, each table and chair that was set up, all the food that was prepared and served, the conversations that were had – the tangible and practical, and all of the intangibles, were done with a heart of worship. Those things weren’t done to serve us, the attendees, but were done in service to God for others. Worship.

In living their lives, the Solid Youth Ministry group and each member of the congregation, including the leaders, worshiped the Living God – it just so happened, that weekend, we, the participants, felt the effects of their worship.


Clarity_Conference_Collage-300x300I didn’t fully realize how alive I felt until I was on my way home each day. Yes, I was getting to do some of the things I love – sharing RYFO with people one on one and from the “stage” – and that energizes me, but, in doing all the little things beforehand in preparation, and interacting with everyone from the very young to the young at heart – whether playing games to give stickers, notebooks and keychains away or listening to incredible and miraculous stories of God working in people’s lives, my “service” was simply an act of worship. All the preparing, doing and interacting didn’t feel like work because I wasn’t doing it for myself – it made me feel alive.

I said something that weekend and I will say it here because I truly believe it with all of my heart and soul:

When we serve where we feel connected, our service will naturally be an act of worship. If our motives in serving are skewed, or we feel an obligation of some sort, it’s not really worship, it’s something else.

If it’s not [serving] the music community, that’s okay. I encourage you to find what stirs your God-given passions and get involved. Remember the words of Jesus:  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

To feel alive, you must live for others.

To see some fantastic photos of the Clarity Conference, click here

In Silence


In Silence
By Julia Saites, RYFO Communications Coordinator

I have a confession. I’ve been trying to write this blog post for over two weeks now. For some reason ever single thing I’ve put to the page has been incomplete, too random or just not something I wish to share on this level.

I’ve spent time reading other blogs, articles and stories. I’ve spent time listening to music, both old and new hoping to be inspired. I’ve scoured social media for some lightning bolt of inspiration. I’ve even resorted to cracking open my personal journals. Something. I need something.

But two weeks later and a day past my self-imposed deadline, I am empty. I wonder why this happens? Words generally come easy to me. I always have something to say – albeit mostly contrary to what everyone else says – but not lately. Perhaps events and past conversations have led me here – not really knowing what to say or how to say it. Perhaps I’ve left certain things undone too long and the weight of those things is crushing my creativity or my clarity. I think it is probably a mixture of the two along with some other things I am too blind to see right now.

I think this is how life is for most of us at different points in our lives. That the thought of doing things we’re not all that crazy about sits on our shoulders compressing our desires and creates this whirlpool we get caught up in. Or that our inner being, our thoughts, our beliefs, is so much a part of who we are and how we want to live our lives, is in conflict (it seems) with the rest of the world.

We feel a bit stifled and without a voice – without a voice that gets heard anyway. We tell ourselves that our silence would be better than our voice – because we feel no one cares to listen. So we quietly move about our day.

But this is where we’re wrong. Whether it’s words on a page, lyrics in a song, a conversation between two friends or interaction between two strangers, audible or inaudible, we do have a voice. How we express it is up to us utilizing the gifts, talents and passions that God has given us. We were created in God’s image and since God is the most creative being ever, finding ways to communicate with one another creatively is built into who we are.

So we must not let silence win. We must be a voice to the hopeless, to the broken-hearted, the tired and poor. We must creatively use our voices to do as Jesus commanded: Love God and love people.

Sometimes my voice comes in the form of a blog, sometimes, and my most favorite way, my voice comes in the form of cooking a meal and offering a place to stay for touring musicians. My voice can be heard in the dishes I wash, in the bathroom I clean, in the case of water I offer. And I have to remember that it is good enough. That, how I love God in this way is my voice to the world which screams out, “Father, God, I love You! The life that I live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and died for me.”


You Are Not Forgotten


You Are Not Forgotten
by Julia Saites, RYFO Communications Coordinator

We get fulfillment from your music and become obsessed with you, the musician. We want to know every detail of your life and what you are doing every minute of the day. But we only want to know the details if it will offer us some sort of personal gratification. We love to hear it when you breakup with your girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband because we know that if you met us you’d fall in love with us. We know it.

This is our society’s obsession. 

So I ask:

How often do we care to see you, the person? Do we really care about your personal life? Not the gossip, but the reality?

Can we, the fan, the obsessed, consider:

That there is a real life behind each face – one hidden behind the social media profile, behind the show.

 Do we care about that life?

That life may consist of deep family ties, a girlfriend or a boyfriend, a wife or a husband, a child or children. That life may consist of heartaches, sickness, debt, a past too vile to even want to remember. Depth beyond the outer shell.

Oh, that life.

Yes, there are people that do care for you – for the musician, the spouse, the child, the family member, the boyfriend or girlfriend – and for all you endure in the pursuit of dreams in the music industry. We care about the life that’s lived off of the stage and behind the scenes. We want you to know that there is no hidden agenda, our friendship is genuine. We desire to encourage and support you, for your experiences are unique and sometimes hard to explain. We offer you more than the things you may need on the road. We are a little different that way.

Rest assured, you are not forgotten.


(Don’t) Brace Yourself



At the end of May, I was fortunate enough to attend the GMA Immerse Conference. (See previous blog post for details.) I wanted to bring some advice with me to share with new and emerging artists about life on the road. I reached out to several artists that had stayed with us (my husband, Greg and I have a Host Home in Albuquerque, NM) during their tours and proposed this question:

If you could go back and tell yourself one thing, one very valuable, life-saving, piece of advice before you set off on your very first tour what would it be?

I received awesome responses. Everything from the practical to the Spiritual. I love every single one of them, and will post them here someday – for it is all excellent advice.  Today, though, I offer this post to my friend, Joshua Fink. You’ll be inspired and encouraged and in the end, you will long to embrace the unexpected. 

Julia Saites, RYFO Communications Coordinator

Joshua Fink
Guitarist, Shine Bright Baby

In the 5 years of our existence, the band has been blessed with opportunities to tour with dozens of incredible artists. With each passing tour we learn a little more about God, ourselves, each other and how to travel more effectively.

If I could go back and tell myself one piece of valuable advice before I left for our first tour it would’ve been to embrace the unexpected.

When you tour you expend enormous amounts of energy making sure everything is as organized as possible. Spreadsheets brimming with hotel confirmations, venue addresses, and merchandise inventory guide you and your daily itinerary forward. By quantifying the entire tour you save time, energy, and money. The end goal is to evaporate any chance of the unexpected occurring. Eventually though, the unexpected will occur and while on the road, the unexpected can challenge your faith and erode your passion for music ministry altogether.

You see, our society has been recalibrated to center life around predictability, comfort and convenience. Hamburgers at McDonald’s taste the same in Ohio as they do in Florida, or Maine. We’ve been programed to a crave a safe, expected environment.

Let’s face it, we’re sheltered as a country so when something unexpected happens our response is one of shock, and then overreaction. We’re told that the unexpected is bad, that it can only come at the worst possible time. And while some unexpected events can be unfortunate I’ve learned that the unexpected can be good. It can become an opportunity.

I’ll never forget when our van was broken into in San Diego and we had $4,000 worth of personal electronics stolen. The feeling of helplessness and desperation was overwhelming.

As a band, we recognized we were under a spiritual attack and in that very moment lifted the situation (and the individual(s) who took our belongings) up in prayer. During that prayer, we surrendered our feeble attempt to control the situation. We embraced the unexpected and through that, God provided in astonishing ways.

Our band has dozens of stories where we encounter and rediscover God when we embrace the unexpected.

On one tour our van broke down in rural Montana and within minutes of being stranded we met an eccentric, and rather disheveled gentleman who happened to be a diesel mechanic. Twenty minutes after our breakdown, we were cruising down the road once again.

Those stories are just brief examples that show what can happen when you embrace the unexpected. I’m thoroughly convinced that on some tours we’ve encountered angels. It’s in those vulnerable, unexpected moments where Christ can show up and speak the loudest.

With each passing tour I’ve been slowly learning to embrace the unexpected. Realizing that our capacity to tour won’t last forever I’m beginning to consciously attempt to enjoy every moment, even the unexpected ones.

When you abandon your own selfish personal agenda you create space for opportunities to flourish, and for lives to be transformed.

Constantly reminding yourself that it’s not about you creates room for God to work.

With that being said, I want to encourage you to embrace the unexpected, to say yes, instead of no. I want to encourage you to give up control of your life, and allow God to take over.

When you give up control He will do something bold for you. He will challenge you. He will be your sustenance, your strength, and your unexpected.

Hebrews 13:2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

Mind Your Business


Mind Your Business
By Julia Saites, RYFO Communications Coordinator

Ah, the music business.  I can’t pretend to be an expert on it, in fact, I can say that I may only know a bit more than the average Joe.  I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy an education of sorts from close friends who have made music for well over twenty years as both the musician and the producer.  It’s complicated to say the least and even artists who have been making music for years still get surprised sometimes with the business side of things.  It’s a difficult world to maneuver within.  It can be a killer of dreams or at the very least, it is a perplexing road most artists don’t care to explore.

GMA Immerse is helping demystify the business of music.  From May 26th through May 29th, the Gospel Music Association and LifeWay held a conference in Nashville specifically tailored to new artists and those interested in the music industry.  It was a glorious few days filled with informative sessions from music industry professionals, competitions for singers and songwriters and of course Jesus.  Make no mistake, Jesus was there.

Each morning began with a devotion from artists and speakers, Montell Jordan, Milam Byers and Mike Harland.  Some sessions had titles such as, “Artists Called To Be Warriors”, “Redefining Success: Understanding Your Artistry in the Context of Servanthood”, and “10 Ways to Make Your Soul Strong and 10 to Make Your Songs Sing”.  These sessions focused not only on the artist, but about making sure the “Why” of making music doesn’t get lost in the “How”.

It was a beautiful combination of encouraging new artists in their craft, equipping them with the business aspect of music and folding it together with the heart of God to send out disciples with passion and knowledge.

We at RYFO were thrilled to be a part of the conference, joining several other exhibitors set up to help encourage, inspire and educate the attendees.


immerse_collageWe enjoyed meeting many artists from around the globe.  We were even treated to some impromptu performances at our booth.  For many it was the first time they had heard of RYFO and after explaining it was pronounced, “Rye-foe” we were able to offer them information about who we are and what we do.

The main draw for many touring musicians is our Host Home Network, currently comprised of 59 homes around the country.  Our Host Homes provide housing, food, laundry facilities, wifi, and other practical things (such as safe parking) to touring musicians/artists at no cost.  That information was usually met with a jaw drop and a look of confusion.  It was fun to watch time after time.

Yes, indeed, the RYFO Network serves musicians, all musicians at no cost.  Our Host Homes truly have the heart of servants and expect nothing in return.  We understand the journey is an arduous one and all we wish to do is give you some of what you may need to help you along.  Sometimes that comes in the form of a meal, peace and quiet, an ear to listen or a heart to heart conversation.

RYFO Host Homes are one part of who we are at RYFO, but at this event filled with an overwhelming amount of information, we were so glad to be able to say, “This part is easy.  We’ll help take care of you.”  So, yes, mind your business.  Learn all you can and do it to the very best of your ability. (Col. 3:23-24)  There is more to music than putting notes or lyrics on a page.  It’s difficult, but not impossible.  You can do it.  We’re here for you.

For The Love of Music(ians)


For The Love of Music(ians)
By Julia Saites, RYFO Storyteller

The circumstance drives the relationship.

My confession is that I love music.  I love it.  I love it.  Like many others, I just love it.  There is nothing on this planet that can affect me like music.  Nothing.  Dance comes close, then visual art (any kind) and nature, but not quite like music.

The song, the melody, the lyrics, the rhythm – every piece of it pulls something out of me.  A song can evoke a powerful reaction from me – it can stir a memory, showing me a face from years past – a face I miss dearly, a face that can take me back to a forgotten day.  A song can draw out a love from within me that may be hard to express otherwise.  The words I sing along with can roll off my tongue and into the air as a fragrant offering to my King.  A song can fill my heart with empathy and compassion allowing me to offer those things up to one who may need it.  A song often times wrings my heart, the contents flowing out – making room for something better, something more.

So do I love music?  Yes.  But what I also realize is that the music comes out of someone.  A musician.  An artist.  Those are their words, their melodies, their rhythms.  The song is of them.  The songs I love, the songs most powerful are the contents of the artist’s soul poured out onto sheets of music in the form of notes and words.

This also explains my love of dance, visual art and nature.  The most beautiful dancers utilize not only their physical talents, but also leave part of their soul exposed out on the stage.  The same goes with paint on a canvas – the art draws out my emotion because I know a part of that artist’s soul is literally on that canvas.  And nature?  Well, that’s the work of a true Artist.  The most creative Being ever.  So as I watch the golden specks of sunlight bounce along the top of the ocean, I experience a part of the Artist’s soul.

The music, the art, the creation is part of the artist’s soul – good or bad, joyful or full of anger, pain or hope, love or lust.  It gives us a window into the soul of its creator.  If it were not for the courage of the musician to pour out themselves into a song, would we have a desire, a calling to share the love of Jesus with them?

Any music fan will tell you that the music is what drew them in.  They became interested in the musician because of their music, i.e., ‘The circumstance drives the relationship’.  The type of relationship we are driven to is what delineates the fan from the fanatic.

Being able to receive the music for what it is but also being able to look at the artist as an individual, a human being, and not a celebrity elevated on a stage is what makes us different.  The fan has become rebranded.  The Rebranded Fan doesn’t forsake the music.  We can handle that separation.

We can go to a concert, sing along, dance around, scream and shout, even ask for a photo but we also help load gear, ask if they’ve eaten and feed them if they haven’t, put gas in their vans, ask about their families, pay real attention, pray with them and talk to them about Jesus.  This is our calling – this is how we share Jesus with them.  Others minister to musicians in different ways than we do.  It’s the beauty of the body of Christ.  God explains; ” The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body.  So it is with the body of Christ.” (1 Cor 12:12, NLT)  Each one us is a different part of the body, complementing one another.  Not one is more important than the other.

Perhaps as Rebranded Fans we are the fist – able to offer a fist pump in the midst of a song, and then open it up offering a helping hand or hand on the shoulder when the music stops.