Serving the Voices Blog

Where Are They Now?


Where Are They Now?
By Julia Saites, RYFO Storyteller

When I first saw a copy of HM magazine – I was intrigued to the point of purchase. I saw it in a Christian bookstore back in 2005. After that first purchase, I was hooked and became a subscriber. HM served as my insight into the music I loved so much. I have kept all my issues.

Often times I flip through my back issues rediscovering bands and insights. Today, as I flip through Issue #130 from 2008, I look at the bands and I wonder: What has happened to these men and women? Are they still around? Do they still make music? Do they still tour? Where are they now?

The reason I pulled out HM Issue #130 is because an interview was brought to my attention with Shiny Toy Guns. The editor asked, “What do you think of Jesus Christ?” Jeremy Dawson (synthesizer player/programmer) responds, “Jesus Christ? Sadly, no one’s asked me that in a year.” He continues, “I think that… It sounds selfish, but it would be neat to have like a mobile … like a band bus you could go to and there’d be people there, like accountability people in there. When you’re on tour it’s really… There’s all these things that are around, loaded with temptations and all the fun things of this world. And you have people that you phone back to for accountability, but it’s like a penpal. It’s not the same. You don’t have a buddy with you all the time…” Dawson continues explaining tour life, “…But it’s tough to be in an environment and not have somebody with you when it’s like: ‘Should I get in that car and go to that party? I probably shouldn’t,’ but it’s just me all by myself to have to make that decision.” His last words hit me hard. “So, as far as Christ goes…it (touring) really creates a wedge in a direct relationship or a regular prayer life or fellowship with others that believe the same. It makes it really tough. It really does.”

Where are they now?

I am not asking about where they are now on the charts, or what success they have had or not had in the world, I am asking the hardest question I can’t even answer completely for myself, Where are they now in relationship with Jesus Christ?

All the success in the world – on the charts, money in the bank, arena tours, buses instead of vans, planes instead of buses or all the perceived defeats of the music industry – broken-down vans, playing for a crowd of twelve, no radio play, debt, and finally break-ups – none of those scenarios are as important as the health of one’s soul. But I ask you, how do we contribute to the health of their souls?

Whether we realize it or not these men and women are tired of sleeping in moving vans. They have to utilize those gross gas station bathrooms daily. They may have little money and time to feed themselves with proper nutrition. It may be an easy fix for us to come to the rescue to meet some of those needs. Clearly, meeting those needs are essential to the health of the artists. But, we also somehow inherently know their souls are in need of nutrition as well. For many of us, it’s not that we are ashamed of Jesus, but perhaps we are not sure if we should “go there.” Do we consider that we need to go there? How often, during your struggles in life, do you walk up to a stranger and blurt out, “I’m sinking! I’m a mess and I’m empty! I miss my family and I may be looking for fulfillment somewhere I shouldn’t be! Please help me!”? Really, what stranger has run into your living room vomiting their pain all over your floor? So, how can we expect an artist to just spill their guts to us without provocation? Usually, relationships take time – trust needs to be built so we can begin to bear each other’s burdens. But time we don’t always have. Minutes maybe hours, or a day or two if we’re super lucky – that’s all we get with these travelers.

What is the answer?

1) Use your voice.

2) Learn from each other.


How difficult is it to ask, “How can we pray for you?” or “How is your family back home?”? Many of us don’t ask these simple questions. If you do, you are to be commended and are an example for the rest of us. We must want to contribute to the health of these men and women who we may only get minutes with. We should care and want to know that they broke up not because they were spiritually drained or empty, but because God was taking them in new directions. We can be the “band bus filled with accountability people” or the voice on the other end of the line offering Jesus, not by a meal, but by real love, prayer and encouragement. We are the chosen people. You are chosen by God to share your love with your gifts and talents and with your voice.

We may be serving the voices, but let’s also literally use our voices to serve. We must. If we don’t then when we think of every musician we so silently loved, we will be haunted by the question: Where are they now?

Lent Prayer, Week 7 – Holy Week


Lent Prayer, Week 7 – Holy Week
By Simeon Lohrmann, Director of Operations, RYFO.

To conclude the communal prayer effort that our Host Homes offered during this season of Lent, we decided to go through the posts from each week and create a prayer that encapsulated the themes of all that has been prayed over the past 6 weeks. Thank you for joining us in this effort!

Heavenly Father,

As we reflect on the sacrifice of your son and marvel at the miracle of his resurrection, we pray that you will teach us to live sacrificially and to extend your love and grace to the musicians we encounter. We pray that our words and deeds would touch the hearts of these musicians and point them back to you. We are grateful for the opportunity to be an extension of your love and care for these artists. Fill us with humility and wisdom to know how and when to share your truth with them. We pray for the safety of these artists as they travel and that they will experience your love and peace as they stay in our homes. May your name be glorified throughout the music community!


Mike Mains & The Branches Talks RYFO


Mike Mains & The Branches Talks RYFO
By Cathy Hill

Michigan-based alternative band Mike Mains & the Branches has made good use of the RYFO network of host homes over the past few years. “I’d say that 95 percent of the places we stay on the road are RYFO homes,” says Shannon Briggs Mains. “We always know they will be welcoming and comfortable places.”

Mike likens RYFO to Starbucks: “I like going to Starbucks because it’s consistent. Each place has its own atmosphere but what you get there is reliable.” The band is glad to know that homes are pre-screened; “you never know what you might get when you accept a random offer to stay somewhere.”

But room and board are just the beginning of the benefits they cite when asked about the role of RYFO. There is so much more to the ministry.

Mike, Shannon and the band look forward to RYFO stays, both new and repeat. Shannon enjoys how the relationships with the hosts deepen with each stay. “The first time they are a RYFO home. The next time it’s the home in Naperville. Then it’s the Hill family. Each time we stay we feel a deeper level of relationship.”

Mike agrees. “Now we have a network of families around the country. The Shevlots and Lubs are our Indiana families. The Kazarians are our east coast family. The Wallaces are our Arkansas family. And as family, they not only welcome us, but challenge us and keep us accountable as well.”

One of the bands’ most memorable experiences came in the midst of a very trying time. Their van was stolen, along with not only their gear and merchandise, but also with birthday presents for Shannon. (And we all know how much we like birthday presents!) Yes, insurance and donations covered the gear, but Shannon was especially touched by the RYFO homes along the way that gave her birthday presents, and even surprised her with a homemade ice cream cake! “That’s what family does,” says Shannon.

As the band continues to travel as God leads, Mike Mains & the Branches look forward to meeting more of their ever-growing RYFO family. 

To learn more about Mike Mains & The Branches, visit their Facebook and check out their NEW ALBUM!

Guest Blog For ‘The Sound Opinion’


I was brought up in a Fundamental Baptist church in the midwest. Music in which the driving beat was on 2 & 4 was “the devil’s music.” At one point, I was even told by my youth pastor that the old southern gospel group “Acappella” was bad to listen to because of the rhythm and syncopation they used. Keep Reading…

God Took My Voice Away?

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In 2004, God took my voice away.

My introduction in to church ministry was through an older worship leader named Bobby who invited me in to a mentoring relationship after I graduated high school. Despite Bobby’s constant efforts to curb my natural tendency to glorify myself on stage, I began to find my identity in my ability and opportunities to lead worship for our student ministry of 400+ high schoolers. Three years later, after a few rounds at community college, playing in local bands, and quite a bit of worship leading, I decided to enroll at a 4-year school to study “CCM” (contemporary Christian music). there I joined an emo band, straightened my long hair, and wore tight girl jeans. Oh yes, size 11. But by the end of that year, God had begun to steer things in a new direction. Two things began to happen simultaneously. One, He birthed the beginning of the RYFO vision in my heart, and two, He began to take my singing voice from me.

By the end of that first year away at school, I was taking steps to transfer (to a Bible school), while suffering with a quickly deteriorating voice.  Arriving at Bible school that next year, I was physically unable to sing or sometimes even speak.  What had once been my identity and idol, was supernaturally ripped from my throat.  I saw several doctors in downtown Chicago, seeking help and healing, endured not-so-fun cameras being shoved down my nose, and medication that just didn’t help.  The doctors were unable to explain my issues.  So they dubbed it “unexplained severe vocal fatigue”.  In an environment (Bible school) where I probably would have sought recognition and value from being a regular worship leader for the student body, I was blocked and rescued from myself.

I have this distinct memory of standing, not-singing (unable to) Matt & Beth Redman’s “Blessed Be Your Name” with the student body during a mid-week chapel service.  As “we” sang the bridge section, I began to weep…

You give and take away.
You give and take away.
My heart will choose to say,
Lord blessed be your name.

It was in that moment that God and I got really honest.  My heart was broken.  I missed singing.  I was bitter that God had allowed me to loose my voice.  I felt lost, not knowing what talent I had to offer Him any longer…  And I was finally able to praise Him in spite of my circumstance.  As I read those words on the screen, I cried and cried because I finally meant them.

God knew that as long as I desired to be a rock star (for my glory), I would be unable to serve Him for His glory.  In His wisdom He knew that in order to minister to “rock stars”, I had to not be one.  This is my journey, not a blanket statement of right/wrong.  God knew what I needed, and I still praise Him for it.

I continue to hope and pray that He will restore my voice, in His timing, when He feels that I am ready to sing for His glory alone.  But until then, I am in awe of the opportunity He’s given me to serve other “voices”; some who live and sing for His glory, and others that have yet to.  God is good, and He is deeply committed to restoring relationship with us.  He’ll do what He needs to in order to draw us to Himself.  Lord blessed be your name.

serving the voices,

Nick Greenwood

PAX217: RYFO’s Inspiration

Video Length: 5:28 | PAX 217 STORY from Jason Shelton on Vimeo.

In 2000, I received a compilation album with 2 songs on it from a band called PAX217.  I became their fan, instantly.  I went to countless shows and wore their record out.  As a young musician, I had an aspiration to rock like they did, and an admiration for who I perceived them to be.  PAX217 was a voice of inspiration, calling their fans to be voices of change in our world.  When God placed the idea of RYFO on my heart in 2004, the first person I thought to reach out to was Dave Tosti, lead singer of PAX217.  He didn’t know me, but I had a sense that Dave would resonate with the vision.  So I found his email address online, sent him an email…and he responded.  A couple months later, we met together for the first time (on my birthday).  Since then, Dave has been a big encouragement to me, and has even spent a season on the RYFO board of directors.  I am thankful for this band and how they ministered to me in several different ways.  It’s an honor to be a part of their story.

Serving the voices,

Nick Greenwood

RYFO (pronounced, rye – foe) Host Home (pronounced, cray – z)


A recent blog from a RYFO Host Home:

“We had quite an experience this weekend, one I had hoped for, but not out loud – just a secret wish. You see, maybe a month ago I noticed a RYFO event posted on facebook – a ‘Dessert’s On Us’ or something or other. I was intrigued and checked out the details. It was to be in Orange County on February 1st. …”

Read More…

Are You RYFO?

“Are you RYFO?”

Whenever someone tweets the word “RYFO”, we see it. I guess you can say that we kind of stalk ourselves. We just like seeing the RYFO story that is playing out across the country. One of my favorite tweets to see comes when a band has been invited by a fan via twitter to crash at their house for a night (generally, this is kind of a creepy ask). But on several occasions, we’ve seen the bands respond with “Are you RYFO?”. This warms our hearts. It’s exciting to know that RYFO is becoming a trusted name in the touring artist community. Bands know that RYFO Host Homes are safe and restful places to be…void of creepy super fans. I am grateful.

Serving the voices,

Nick (at) ryfo (dot) org

Serving the voices – origin

Serving the voices.

I can remember where I was when God gave me the tagline for the RYFO ministry idea. Before kids, my wife Emily and I were renting a small cottage at the time within walking distance of the beach in southern California. I remember that I was pacing between the living room and eating area, talking to myself and working through the ministry philosophy with the Lord. And BAM, it hit me… (more…)

Are you sucking the life out of musicians?


Summer tour season is here! Many of us have bought tickets to our favorite festivals, and are excited to see our favorite bands and discover new ones. But I am reminded of something as I think of the exciting Summer festival culture. Festivals are designed for music listeners to consume music by the truck load. Multiple stages are timed to allow crowds to come and go in waves with the start of another band’s set. We go from stage to stage until our ears bleed, our feet hurt, or we collapse because we forgot to drink enough water. We carefully outline what bands we can see based on stages and set times, and do our best to not miss our favorites. There’s an art to it that I’m personally not good at. I try. Most of us can get so focused on ‘consuming’ all the music that we can, that we miss incredible opportunities to (more…)