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A Complicated Matter

Written By: Stacy Knapp (Director of Network Relations) 

Two weeks ago we shared a personal and honest journal entry from an artist who has struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts. As I reflected on what he shared there were a couple of statements he made that helped me see things in a deeper way:

 

“After more than 10 years of dealing with depression in its most extreme forms I’ve come to the conclusion that it is not solely a physical, or emotional problem. For me, it is also a spiritual problem.”

 

It is no wonder that depression is complicated. Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington were complicated just as each of us is in our own way. We are not just physical beings. We are not just emotional beings, nor are we just spiritual beings. We are all of these in one whole person, so we must consider all of these areas when dealing with depression.

 

Along with depression, grieving the loss of someone to suicide can get complicated especially when we’re watching on the outside attempting to figure out why someone would do it. There are all kinds of emotions that rise to the surface when we learn about the suicide of someone we know or even someone we admire or respect like Cornell and Bennington. To some of us their lyrics pierced our soul because it felt like they knew exactly what we were going through. There are many facets of grief: disbelief, sadness, anger, envy, helplessness, emptiness, fear and the list goes on. Then there are the unanswered questions of “Why did she do that?” or “What was so bad that he couldn’t cope?” And then there are the questions about ourselves of “Is there something wrong with me that I’m crying for the loss of someone I didn’t even personally know?” or “Am I weird that I don’t feel anything?” Whatever the questions we ask, grief is a personal thing and we express it in different ways. It is complicated.

 

“Reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength. I want to stop the mental health stigma and start being authentic. There is healing power in non judgmental community, and we need to break down those barriers and just be real with each other, because love is all we have.”

 

Whether you’re questioning your mental health or walking through grief, reaching out to a professional therapist or counselor is a good step. If you’re not ready to do that, then finding a “safe person” for help is an option. You may be asking, “How do I know if someone is a safe person?”

 


Important characteristics to look for in a safe person

Trusted – Do others trust them? Think about who has been a trusted help in the lives of others.

Present/Good listener – Not only being physically present to listen to you, but are they able to focus on being in the moment with you without distractions? Sometimes you just need to know that someone is available, but there are other times when you need a listening ear.

Peaceful – Are they the type of person that brings peace to what may seem to be chaotic situations? They may not be able to change the situation but they may be a person who makes everyone feel at peace when they are around.

Compassionate – Are they sympathetic, caring and understanding? Your feelings are real and this is not the time for someone to act judgmental towards you, but it’s the time for your feelings to be validated.


Perhaps as you’ve read through this list you recognize these characteristics in yourself. If so, please consider looking out for people who may need a safe person. It can be just reaching out with a phone call or just a text message saying “I’m here.” It could be the offering to just sit quietly across from the person and “just be.”

As a licensed Chaplain I consider it a blessing to care for the unique spiritual, emotional and physical needs of anyone God connects me to. From being available for someone who is dealing with depression, to sitting with someone in the midst of their grieving, I know God has called me to be a safe person. If there’s anything you’ve read in this post that you’d like to discuss further, please don’t hesitate to contact me: Stacy@ryfo.org. If you would like to respond to this post anonymously you can send RYFO a message via Sarahah.


Reflection:

When you ​have been ​depressed or ​grieved the loss of someone, was there a person in your life who was a safe person​? If yes, how so?

How can you ​be a safe person to someone who is grieving?


Struggling with Suicidal Thoughts

Written by: Anonymous // Shared with permission by: Simeon Lohrmann

The following journal entry was sent to me by an artist friend of mine as he was processing through the recent suicides that have shaken the music community. After reading my friend’s reflections I asked if he would be comfortable with his story being shared anonymously with the RYFO network.


“[It was] sad to hear about the deaths of both Chris Cornell, and Chester Bennington. Even more sad to hear they were suicides. 

I’ve struggled with severe depression for more than 10 years, and there have been times where I feel like I’m desperate, out of control and have absolutely no hope. I’ve never acted on any of the suicidal thoughts, but I know that their are a lot of people struggling with the same issues and feel the same burden of constant pain and overwhelming sadness. 

After more than 10 years of dealing with depression in its most extreme forms – I’ve come to the conclusion that it is not solely a physical, or emotional problem. For me, it is also a spiritual problem. It’s really the only aspect of my life that I haven’t considered fully enough up until more recently.

They said it’s a chemical imbalance:

I’ve tried probably more than 20+ medications. Anti depressants, anti anxiety, muscle relaxers, anti psychotics, pain pills, even depakote – which is typically used to treat seizures. I don’t have seizures, it’s just another thing to try since nothing was working. 

They said it was physical:

I’ve tried changing my diet, exercising, yoga, mental exercises, natural remedies – nothing even came close to helping. 

I was hospitalized many times, the longest period was for a week. That was the worst week of my life, and really caused me to go backwards in my healing. 

I struggled with eating. I was stuck in a loop in my head where I felt like “if I eat, I’m going to choke and die. If I don’t eat, I’m going to starve to death.” I weighed 115 lbs at one point.

I’ve had suicidal thoughts. Wanting to throw myself down flights of stairs, or jump out of moving cars. I’ve tried to fill the emptiness and void in my life with other things, and nothing seemed to work. 

I know there are things that I need to change about myself. And I also know that I can’t do those things in my own power… Literally… I’ve tried. It doesn’t work. Sometimes I feel like I’ve tried everything. Other times It feels like I’m living the same way year after year – not changing anything – and expecting different results.

I’ve gotten to the point where I’m out of options except to turn completely to God. I’ve felt overwhelming sadness and pain night and day. It’s like Job in scripture where he says my tears are my food day and night. I can’t sleep most nights, I have no appetite, I feel like I’m being attacked from all sides by the enemy. I have extreme night terrors to the point where I feel like I’m literally losing my mind.

Year after year, I have the thought in my head that I’m not going to make it to the next year. I always am afraid I’m going to have a heart attack. I have panic attacks when I drive, back pain so bad that it affects me at work, and at home (I resigned from my job just the other day because of the issues). I feel overwhelmed some days with the thought of taking care of my son. 

I’ve tried escaping the pain by watching movies, getting lost in music, and turning to other unhealthy ways of dealing with these issues, but it always leaves me feeling empty. 

So, I’ve chosen to trust God.

Trust has been the theme for my life lately. I’m tired of worrying to the point of mental and physical exhaustion. I’m tired of not facing my issues and practicing escapism to try and “medicate” my pain. The only lasting peace I’ve ever found has been when I’m in relationship with God. Not religion. But an actual – crazy in love with Jesus sort of relationship.

The more I’m in scripture and prayer, the more I can hear the whisper of God. Because sometimes, with all of the chaos and busyness of life – with all of the brokenness, poverty, cancer, depression and war, It may seem like darkness is winning. It may feel like Satan shouts, and God whispers. 

So I have to slow down and remind myself of how God directs us. He says “Be still and know I am God.” Psalm 46:10. 

The last few months or so I’ve experienced some of the worst symptoms I’ve ever had to deal with. And at the same time I’m experiencing community, peace and transformation in my heart. I feel like I’m moving towards freedom, and the overwhelming darkness and fog that has been floating over me for the past 10+ years is starting to lift.

Over the years, I’ve realized that the picture of good mental health is multi-dimensional. It’s not just physical, or chemical. Although, for some – medication may help on a short term basis. It just never worked for me. I could never just pop a pill and expect all of my core issues to suddenly disappear. 

I believe there are so many aspects to consider in order to heal properly. For me, it’s: Physical, Emotional, Relational, and Spiritual.

The biggest factor in my healing though, has been the spiritual. I constantly have to remind myself not to neglect the other areas though. I’ve seen the absolute worst of it, but I know if I can experience freedom – anyone can. You are never too far gone to move towards light and life again. 

I’m still on the journey, but I’ve had a taste of freedom and I want more. In the words of Jon Foreman, “I want to thrive, not just survive.” And also, “we were meant to live for so much more.” Man, I love Jon Foreman’s music. It’s been so healing to my soul. 

It’s sad to think that some people get to the point where they feel they have no options. Reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength. I want to stop the mental health stigma and start being authentic. There is healing power in non judgmental community, and we need to break down those barriers and just be real with each other, because love is all we have.”

What the church can learn from the hardcore scene

Last week one of our host families shared a blog with our staff that really resonated with us. The blog is directed at the church and outlines the discoveries a mother made in attending her son’s hardcore show. In light of our unique mission, it’s always encouraging to come across someone else who is advocating for the same thing we are – to bridge the divide between the church and the musician community.

That said, we wanted to pass the blog along to our network to hear your feedback on…

What the church can learn from the hardcore scene

2016 Annual Report

By: Simeon Lohrmann (Executive Director)

Whether you have been connected to RYFO for years, or you are brand new to the network, this update is for you. Detailed in the pages of our annual report you’ll read testimonies that give a glimpse into the impact RYFO has had in the musician community this past year. Additionally you’ll read about how we’re working to expand our reach and influence over the next decade and beyond.

The vision God has revealed to our team is bigger than any one leader or organization, it can only be achieved through collaboration and financial generosity. We value your support and pray for it to grow in the New Year!


Click Here to give a tax deductible year-end gift


RYFO is a ministry of CRM (Church Resource Ministries), a global missions agency and 501(c)(3) based in Anaheim, California. CRM is a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

RYFO Mission & Vision: Forming Trusted Relationships

blog trusted relationships

The time we have with musicians off the road can be just as important as their time on the road. Helping them to realize that they have someone they can call when things get tough gives them hope. In RYFO, this is part of our core value is forming trusted relationships.


By: Simeon Lohrmann

Trust in relationships is a priceless thing. It doesn’t come easy because it must be earned, and once it’s earned there’s no guarantee it will stand the test of time. A trusted relationship is a safe relationship which carries a sense of being known and having the freedom to be completely honest. Renowned Leadership Coach Bob Vanourek says it this way, ”Trust is built when someone is vulnerable and not taken advantage of.”

As an organization that ministers within the musician community we are fully aware of the challenges artists face when it comes to trust in relationships. The music industry is largely built around the idolatry of artists, and that reality alone makes it difficult to find trusted relationships. Compounding that reality is the fact that many artists have a level of distrust towards the church due to their perceptions and life experiences. We firmly believe that transformation in the musician community requires a commitment to form trusted relationships that demonstrate the character of Christ.
What does that look like? We approach every interaction with an artist as an opportunity to communicate or display love that’s authentic, and therefore unattached from any set agenda or ulterior motive. We don’t treat artists like a project or our mission, and we certainly don’t relate to them in light of their accomplishments or notoriety. On the contrary, we honor the individual journey of every artist we are blessed to serve and interact with. We seek to relate to each artist in light of wherever they’re at in their own journey. Furthermore, we are focused on creating safe environments that allow artists to be vulnerable. To that end we willingly volunteer the details of our own life story to allow for a mutual level of honesty and transparency. Without forming trusted artist relationships we can not accomplish our mission to eliminate the cultural divide between the Church and the musician community.

Reflection

  • Are there musicians you know who have been hurt or jaded by the church? If so, what opportunities do you have to demonstrate the character of Christ to them?
  • How can you begin to form trusted artist relationships that are rooted in love?

Get To Know Jim Dallett – Artist Relations Coordinator

Jim Dallett | RYFO Staff

Jim’s role with RYFO

Jim serves as RYFO’s Artist Relations Coordinator. He serves as the connection between the artists and our organization. He reviews and approves all artist applications and welcomes bands into the network.

What attracts Jim to RYFO

Jim’s attraction to RYFO comes from him being able to experience the love and generosity of several host homes while on the road as a touring musicianary. He believes wholeheartedly in the mission and vision of RYFO. Becoming part of the RYFO team has been a tremendous opportunity for him to give back to an organization that was a huge blessing to our ministry.

Jim’s hope for RYFO

Jim’s hope is that more and more artists and musicians get to experience true “radical hospitality” and the love of Christ on their musical journeys.

About Jim’s family

Jim, and his wife Lois, live in Vineland, New Jersey with their daughter, Darla. Jim and Lois have dedicated their lives to serving the Lord; their house has been filled with plenty of music, family, friends, love and joy. In 2016, their family had the amazing privilege to tour the country in the band, Never Forsaken, where they trusted God with their booking and used RYFO host homes. It was an experience their will never forget. These days they can be found doing local outreach ministry work for their church and community. They enjoy family time doing things around the house; watching movies, working on homework, having family dinners together, studying God’s word and just enjoying the blessed life he’s provided them with.

RYFO Mission & Vision: Serving Practical Needs

RYFO | Blog | Meeting Practical Needs

RYFO’s network of host homes offer musicians a place to rest and recharge. A place where they can feel safe and cared for. What would happen if the Church came together to serve musicians? All musicians regardless of background, beliefs or genre of music.

Do you love where you live? Why not serve where you live?


By: Simeon Lohrmann

From the outset of RYFO’s musician ministry we chose to prioritize service. We believe that sacrificial service is central to our Christian mandate to love others. Jesus modeled a lifestyle of service to His disciples, and as His followers we have the opportunity to embody His character through our actions. To that end here are some thoughts on what is required to cultivate a lifestyle of service, as well as a reflection on the transformative impact service has had for the artists RYFO serves.

The individualistic culture of our day has made servanthood a commodity. As we each pursue our own happiness the needs that surround us often go unnoticed, or if we notice them we often wait to respond until doing so is convenient, or whenever we need to feel good about ourselves. The reality is that rather than making servanthood a way of life, most people outsource service by resigning it to a community project or an event.

Every one of RYFO’s host families has made a lifestyle choice to prioritize service. They’ve chosen to allow their home to be transformed from a place of personal refuge to a mission field. Furthermore, they’ve gone through the process of viewing everything they have as a gift from God. In response they’ve made the conscious choice to give generously and serve sacrificially. This conscious commitment has proven to be deeply impactful to the artists we serve.

From the stage to their merch tables these same artists are accustomed to existing in a self-protective performance mode where they rarely feel safe to let their guard down. They live with the constant challenge of judging the motives of those who want to be around them. Contrary to this reality RYFO’s Host Homes provide a refuge where artists can safely rest and simply be. Spaces where they don’t have to perform or impress. Environments where the Holy Spirit is at work. RYFO’s Host Homes are more than a crash pad with a warm meal, or a place to grab a shower and wash some laundry, they’re beacons of light and hope.

Reflection

  • What are you doing to cultivate a lifestyle of service?
  • Are there needs around you that God is inviting you to respond to?

Get To Know David Hamilton – Director of Operations

David Hamilton | RYFO Staff

David’s role with RYFO

As the Director of Operations, David focuses on assessing where RYFO is now, and helping to develop and implement a strategic plan that will carry RYFO into the future.

What attracts David to RYFO

David has been familiar with RYFO since 2010. He and his wife always wanted to be a host home, but weren’t in a situation where they could. Over the last few years, that idea has driven several decisions in their lives, and through conversations with Taylor and then Simeon, he realized that he could be a useful resource to RYFO.

David’s hope for RYFO

David’s hope for RYFO is to see it grow to the place where God wants it to be.

About David’s family

David, and his wife Nichole, live in Lakeland, Florida. David works for the University of South Florida as an Academic Services Administrator for a Graduate Program. Nichole works as a Graphic Designer for a local marketing company. They are both involved in their church, Fuel Church where David plays guitar in the worship band Nichole handles the marketing and design work.

Get To Know Stacy Knapp – Host Home Relations Coordinator

Stacy Knapp | RYFO Staff

Stacy’s role with RYFO

Stacy is RYFO’s Host Home Relations Coordinator. She’s the first point of contact for our 100+ host homes across the U.S. She is responsible for the applications, interviews and onboarding.

What attracts Stacy to RYFO

The main reason Stacy was attracted to RYFO is that she has seen the heartbreak and pain that people in the music industry go through, and she believes that there is hope for every person. She knows that God has given her the gift to love people through their difficult stuff.

Stacy’s hope for RYFO

Stacy hopes that through RYFO lives will be transformed by God’s incredible love!

About Stacy’s family

Stacy and her husband, Paxton, live in Los Angeles, CA; and she works for Foursquare Church as their Benefits Administrator. She and her husband met in the summer of 2012 and were married, October 2013. Stacy enjoys the science between art and music, and has a passion for those who make it.

Get To Know Rebecca Harvey – Communications Director

Rebecca Harvey | RYFO Staff

Rebecca’s role with RYFO

Rebecca is the Communications & Organizational Partnership Director for RYFO. She manages the social media and web aspects of the organization, as well as, works to find like-minded businesses to partner with RYFO to grow our mission and reach.

How Rebecca became involved with RYFO

Rebecca first learned about RYFO from Nick Greenwood at Cornerstone Festival in 2009. Nick was running around with a clipboard explaining RYFO and getting people to sign up for more information. At the time, Rebecca and her husband had already been hosting bands, but lived in a very small apartment. A few years later, they moved into a house and became a RYFO host home. About a year ago, the opportunity came available for Rebecca to join the RYFO staff.

Rebecca’s hope for RYFO

Rebecca hopes RYFO can reach all musicians, both secular and faith based, with radical hospitality.

Artists and bands face a lifestyle that wears them to the bone, but many feel called to share themselves and their art with the world.  That process of sharing is vital, and through art and music lives are touched, minds are changed, and hearts are opened.  It is RYFO’s task to protect and care for those who give themselves over to that process, that choose to live with close to nothing and share themselves far from their homes and families.  RYFO does this by meeting their most basic needs first, then hopefully are allowed to help artists grow in other areas of their lives.  She hopes that RYFO will continue to expand and draw in people with unique gifts of caring and equipping to see that idea realized fully for the music community.

About Rebecca’s family

Rebecca & her husband, Ian live in Austin, TX. Rebecca enjoys photography, cooking and art. She also owns a the jewelry design company, Rebecca Harvey Designs. Ian works in student ministry at their church and is currently in a band that uses RYFO. Together they have three dogs; Thrash, Emo and Indie. They are also in the process of adopting. They both have a heart for hospitality, and enjoy having people in their home.