Serving the Voices Blog

RYFO Staff Posts

Serving the Voices at SXSW

HM Magazine Music for Good Showcase

Serving the Voices at SXSW
By: Taylor Adkins

When I found out about a year ago that I would be moving from Virginia to San Antonio Texas, I knew that I would only be a couple hours away from one of the largest music festivals in the world: SXSW. Having just come on staff with RYFO as the Artist Coordinator, I began working on a plan with our staff to have a presence at SXSW in order to build new band relationships and deepen our existing ones. As we began working on plans for SXSW, I reached out to David Stagg (owner and CEO of HM Magazine) to get his feedback about the needs he sees most with the bands he interviews. Before I knew it, he was offering RYFO the opportunity to be a part of their SXSW Showcase. This was the door into the festival that we’d been looking for!

Fast forward a couple months and I am arriving at The Ranch in Austin, TX to kickoff a day full of great music. The showcase lineup included performances from Yesterday as Today, Darkness Divided, Silent Planet, PhinehasEveryone Dies in Utah, ’68 (first ever live performance), and Sleeping Giant. As a long time reader of HM Magazine, I couldn’t have felt more blessed to have a role in the showcase. I got to the venue around noon and met David Stagg for the first time in person. He expressed how excited he was to have RYFO partnering with them for the showcase.

Shortly after my arrival the Harvey’s (shown below) arrived, RYFO’s Host Home family in Cedar Park, TX, just north of Austin. While I was the staff member at SXSW, they were the seasoned veterans! The Harvey’s have been hosting bands long before RYFO began, they run their own venue, and Ian Harvey is in the band UGLYTWIN who has had the opportunity to share the stage with many of the bands RYFO serves. The Harvey’s arranged to order and pick up all the food for the bands that day and even brought care packages in the form of a plate of home made cookies for all the bands in attendance.

Taylor and the Harveys

Before and during the showcase I had the opportunity to speak with many of the performing band members about our desire to have the church walk alongside them as artists and for RYFO to be a medium for that opportunity to take place. Between the hugs, prayers, and even some tears shed by members of bands I spoke with, one thing is for sure…these bands need RYFO! I don’t mean RYFO as in our staff, RYFO the brand, or RYFO the website, but RYFO in terms of the missionaries that make up our organization.

There are many temptations, struggles, and obstacles that plague bands with doubt, depression, and loneliness out on the road. The time spent away from close friends and families can be incredibly tough. These bands are pouring everything they have into their art with few opportunities to be poured into. I want every single person involved with RYFO to know the impact you are having on the lives of these musicians and the ripple effect in their own lives and the multitudes of people they reach with their music.

Thank you to all of our volunteers, the Harvey’s, David Stagg, HM Magazine, the bands who allow us to bless them, and to God for giving RYFO the vision and the opportunity to show the love of Christ by being a servant to these bands. We look forward to many more opportunities to continue Serving the Voices!

It’s too loud to hear from God!

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.

Serving the Voices in 2014

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.

Rejected Grace

Rejected Grace
By: Taylor Adkins

“But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” Romans 11:6

I recently heard a story of someone who was hosting a touring band (not a RYFO host home) and they offered the band their bed along with some other amenities for the night.  What did the band do?  They opted to sleep outside, in their van, on a night where the temperature was likely below freezing.  And what was their reason?  They said they wouldn’t feel right putting the person out of their bedroom for the night.  They said they felt grateful just to have a place to park and bathrooms to use.  The next morning, the host went to the grocery store and bought tons of food to feed her guests.  They came inside after getting little sleep and saw all the food before them.  They stated how thankful they were that their host had gone through the trouble but proceeded to eat only a fraction of the food.  Again, their reason was they felt guilty taking all the food for themselves.  Afterwards, the band hit the road and the host felt robbed of the opportunity to bless her guests.

Last week my wife and I had a similar experience. We received an unsolicited offer from a woman in my wife’s bible study, to pay for our flight home for Christmas.  Due to some unexpected financial issues we were experiencing, it was an answered prayer!  My wife and I could not believe someone was willing to actually pay for our flight home for Christmas.  So, how did we respond? By stating “no we couldn’t ask you to do that.  It’s so much money and we couldn’t possibly accept your offer.”  Immediately, the woman responded “You are not asking me to do anything nor am I expecting anything in return.  I want to bless you and your husband this Christmas season so please accept my offer and there is no need to continue to thank me.” We continued to ask “are you sure?  Are you comfortable doing this? Is this really something you want to do?”  She pleaded with us to accept her gift to us and to not say another thing about it. This was a need that we had and a need she could provide for.

So why did my wife and I continue to fight this woman’s generosity?  To be honest, I felt undeserving of it.

Why do we do this?  Why do we refuse to humble ourselves and allow someone to do for us what we can not do for ourselves?  Why do we refuse to accept things unless we have earned them?  Honestly, I don’t know the answer, but I do know most of us do the same thing in our relationship with God.  When Christ went to the Cross He did so for the sins you have committed, the sins you are committing right this moment, and the sins you will commit.  We are forgiven! We don’t have to earn God’s grace, nor can we earn God’s grace.  Yet, daily I continue to let the guilt of my transgressions keep me from the fulfillment of being in the presence of God.  When I dwell on my sense of guilt I am missing out on the opportunity to grow in my relationship with God because my focus is not on Him.

Having had the opportunity to tour as a musician, and serve on staff with RYFO, I have both perspectives when it comes to RYFO’s mission of serving the voices.  RYFO’s only to desire is to bring the Gospel to the music community.  Their objective is to do so by loving and serving musicians selflessly and expecting nothing in return…zip…nada…zilch…NOTHING.  However, the biggest obstacle RYFO has faced in serving artists is the artists themselves.  Most feel like they don’t deserve the blessings others want to bestow on them.  Others feel like if they accept the hospitality of others, they must do something in return to make up for it.

Artists pour everything they are into their art. But, how can someone continue to pour out without being poured into?  To all the artists reading this blog, let yourself be served.  Let meals be cooked for you.  Let your gas be paid for.  Let someone give up their home so that you can recover physically, spiritually, and emotionally from life on the road.  Refusing to accept grace is robbing someone of the opportunity to bestow the blessings God has given to them.

As the old saying goes, “it is better to give than to receive.”  But, it’s impossible to give if there is no one there to receive.

A Commercial for RYFO?!

Have you ever wondered what a radio spot for RYFO might sound like?

Nick Lubs, son of Dave and Beverly, a RYFO Host Home in Indiana, made a RYFO commercial for one of his class projects. The commercial serves as an advertisement to bands about the care and support available to them through the RYFO Network.

A Home for Rebranded Fans

A Home for Rebranded Fans
By: Simeon Lohrmann

With all the fan stereotypes that exist in the music community, have you ever asked yourself what it takes to be a music fan? Maybe a simple appreciation for music suffices. Maybe a music fan is someone who supports musicians by buying CD’s and going to concerts. Is there anything else?

Recently I had the honor of visiting my alma mater, Greenville College (GC), where the initial vision for RYFO was born. My wife Johanna and I made the trip to GC with the intention of establishing a partnership between the school, particularly the Music Business Department, and RYFO. I am happy to report that our expectations were far exceeded. We were truly impressed by the commonality between the passions of the Greenville students, and the mission of RYFO.

The partnership with Greenville will certainly evolve over time, yet as it stands today, the prospects are exciting. We’re currently working to create opportunities for the students to engage in the work of RYFO through internships & short-term missions trips. Additionally, RYFO is positioned to support the hospitality efforts at AgapeFest, a 37 year old Music Festival run by Greenville’s students.

Over the past 10 months the RYFO staff has sought to promote a singular core message, “Become a different brand of fan.” This message serves as an invitation to all Christ followers who love music. If you love Jesus and love music, we believe you are the perfect candidate to help RYFO raise the bar on being a music fan. As we interacted with the Greenville students we were encouraged by their deep passion for music, and their desire to make an impact for Christ within the music community. Greenville proved to be a home for rebranded fans.

[Read more about how RYFO characterizes a Rebranded Fan]

Does your church or school share the same DNA as RYFO? If so, we would love to link arms and work together. You can can invite us out by completing the form at the bottom of this page: SHARE.

“Running” RYFO

“Running” RYFO
By: Simeon Lohrmann

We all have crossroads in our lives. These turning points serve as markers that shape the trajectory of what we do and who we become. Recently I was faced with a major crossroads, and both paths that presented themselves seemed good roads to take; stay part-time with RYFO as a volunteer, or transition to a full-time role. Can you guess which I chose? If you guessed the later, you are correct! Now three months into my role as Director of Operations, I feel led to provide you with a picture of what it means for me to be “Running” RYFO.

The picture above is from a photo shoot about 5 years ago. The photo shoot was done in support of my pursuits as a singer-songwriter. Two years prior to this picture I moved from Maryland to California with the intent of helping start RYFO, but at this point RYFO was the last thing on my mind. To be frank, at this season in life, my mind was set on myself; My image, My music and My future.

Since then my life’s purpose has completely changed! God has captured my heart, transformed my mind and redirected the trajectory of my life in more ways than I have time to share in this blog. At the core of it all lies a deepening passion for the mission of RYFO. This passion has emerged from my own experiences as a musician, my observation of the experiences of my close musician friends, and finally from three years as a volunteer for RYFO. I feel deeply honored to now be in charge of RYFO’s day-to-day operations.

One of the responsibilities of my new role is to set a budget and oversee RYFO’s fundraising efforts. To that end I wanted to take the opportunity to publicly thank our monthly financial supporters. RYFO would not exist without the faithful investment of these individuals. We are grateful for your faith in our Staff and Mission. Thank you for helping me “Run” RYFO!


RYFO currently receives $2,713 per month in support. Interested in joining RYFO’s monthly support team? Learn more on our Give page: Click Here.

All donations to RYFO are tax-deductible. RYFO is a DBA of First Baptist Church of Big Bear Valley, a 501(c)(3).

Broadening our Voice

Starting next month we are excited to see the ‘Voice’ of RYFO’s blog begin to expand. The blog was launched in 2012 as a voice of inspiration, and as a vehicle for sharing organizational updates. Aside from a couple of guest blog posts, all the posts since the blog launched have come from the RYFO staff. We recently began discussing how to pour more life into the blog. In doing so we have begun to look outside ourselves, to consider what the blog could look like with a broader team of contributors. We are now in the final stages of forming a team of writers to contribute to the story we are seeking to tell.

The vision for the blog is to tell the story of how the love of Christ is spreading throughout the music community.

This is a massive, multifaceted story! Our desire is to communicate all facets, not just those that are specific to RYFO’s programs. We want the blog to be broadly inspirational. For example, we want to tell the story of how musicians are loving fellow musicians and sharing their faith with them, just as much as we want to tell the story of the life that exists in RYFO’s Host Home program. Another example could be the story that exists to be told about music fans going out of their way to love and serve musicians in various ways. We refer to these fans as “Rebranded Fans” because they’ve transcended the stereotypical music fan persona, and embraced a call to represent Christ to the musicians they encounter. A final example could be the story of a church’s outreach efforts to musicians who live in their city. These are just a few basic examples of how we expect to broaden the story that’s being told through our blog.

Together we are Serving the Voices!

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.


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