Serving the Voices Blog

Posts Tagged Tour Life

Artist Testimonial // JD Vazquez

Testimonial JD Vasquez Shadow of Whales

JD Vazquez // Shadow of Whales

“I’m here to talk about an organization that is near and dear to my heart called RYFO. Recently, we were playing in Lawrence, Kansas, and as a couple of small town boys from Texas, we needed a godsend to keep us from sleeping in our van. Thanks to RYFO, we found one. After driving six hundred miles, playing a rock show, trying to connect with and thank every new fan that night, we were exhausted. The last thing we wanted to do was drive another six hundred miles. Because of the incredible people at RYFO, we didn’t have to. We had warm beds to sleep in, breakfast the next morning, and conversation with some of the nicest people we’ve met on the road. Not to mention a fond and safe farewell. The team at RYFO make it possible for bands like us to extend our reach beyond what we thought possible. We are so grateful to be partnered with them and definitely recommend it to musicians alike.”

Voices From the Road: Phinehas

“Life on tour is hard. RYFO is here to help”. This statement, however simple it may seem, holds profound truth to me as it has been realized in my life over the past 4+ years. My name is Lee Humerian and I play drums in a band called Phinehas.

My first tour was also Phinehas’ first tour – a short run in the summer of  2009 that started where we were from in southern California up to Washington state and back. I’m pretty sure we did more driving than playing, but it was a chance for us to play out of state and get our feet wet in the road grind. Back then, when we weren’t driving overnight, we relied on family for a place to eat, shower and sleep.

That’s pretty much how it was for us for our next couple tours in the summers of 2010 and 2011. We would plan on playing a summer festival and book as many shows in between as we could. There were no tour budgets and no back-up plans – just (hopefully) enough fuel to get us to the next show. Twice we popped the radiator on our van. The first time we used my credit card for the repair and borrowed a family mini-van for a couple shows. The second time, we also blew a head gasket in our engine and couldn’t afford the fix. We were stranded in Cle Elum, Washington for three days until our friend Tyrone from Bakersfield drove 1000 miles one way (!) to pick us and our trailer up. This unbelievable display of kindness is one of COUNTLESS acts of selflessness we have experienced in our years of touring. I firmly believe that we wouldn’t be a band today if it weren’t for the love and blessing we’ve received by people like this.11822561_10153158925174492_7489272583621173184_n

Many of these kind, incredible acts have been poured out on us by folks we’ve met through the RYFO organization. RYFO is a non-profit advocate for outreach to musicians. Basically, they are a community of people who open their homes to touring musicians to provide not only a place to sleep, but full-fledged meals, clean showers, laundry, and many other amenities that are often difficult to find or afford while on tour.

We met a RYFO representative at a festival in 2010 and started staying in host homes consistently when we started touring full time in 2012. While playing shows every night is an absolute blast and something we in Phinehas are very fortunate to have the opportunity to do, touring can be very exhausting. After a while, the sleep-deprivation, poor eating habits, sweaty clothes and filthy van can get to you no matter how much or how little you’ve toured. That’s why we love staying at RYFO host homes so much.

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Photo Courtesy of Jonathan Kemp

Whenever we have the opportunity to stay at a RYFO home, we almost always take it. Rest is so invaluable in life, but it can be extremely difficult to come by while on the road. RYFO stays are so replenishing for me in every way: Physically, emotionally and spiritually. What they offer is so seemingly simple, but when you’ve been away from family for weeks, stuck in a dirty van and eating poorly and irregularly, a bed, shower and meal go a really long way. On top of this, there have been many times RYFO families have gone above and beyond their call of duty. We’ve had a couple drive 4 hours one way to pick us and our gear up from a transmission shop and take us to that night’s show, then drive us 4 hours back so we could pick up our van. We’ve had hot meals waiting for us at 4am after an all-night drive. We’ve received care packages of snacks and sports drinks. We’ve had long, deep conversations about life. I could truly go on and on.

Phinehas visiting one of our host homes in Oklahoma

Phinehas visiting one of our host homes in Oklahoma

Needless to say, the people involved with RYFO are incredible. We are so fortunate to know the people we’ve stayed with. Many of them have become like family to us, and it is only possible through their loving generosity. We in Phinehas are so thankful to be a part of RYFO – this organization and the host families a part of it have blessed us immensely. If you are in a touring band, we highly encourage you to sign up for RYFO. You’ll be so glad you did! If you have the heart and the means to host and these stories moved you in any way, then we would encourage you to apply to be a host home!

Grace and peace to you, and long live RYFO!
Lee Humerian & PHINEHAS

 

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Prayer for the Voices

Prayer for the Voices

Next Saturday (the 12th) at 12PM PST we are hosting our quarterly conference call for RYFO staff members, Host Home families, and financial partners to join together in prayer. If you believe in the mission of RYFO we invite you to commit to join us in “Prayer for the Voices.” Here are some ways you can focus your prayers:

-Health and safety for the bands who have started to hit the road now that winter is ending

-Provision for the RYFO staff members who raise missionary support through financial partnerships

-Effective recruiting of new Host Home families in areas of the country where we need to expand our network (mainly the East and West coasts)

-Blessing over our continuing efforts to develop and launch our Artist Chaplain program in 2016

Thank you in advance for those of you who will be praying with us. Please email our Communications Coordinator any insights you receive while you are praying: rebecca@ryfo.org.

A Picnic with Touring Bands

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.”

Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays
By: Sydney Fontaine

I was taken aback the other day, when upon entering a local store, I saw that everything was decked out in Christmas decorations. It is after Halloween, but I’m somehow never quite ready for the Holiday Season to come. There is never enough time between the end of Summer and when everyone breaks out the Christmas music for me to prepare for it.

This is always a strange time of year for me personally, as well as for other travelers.  The lifestyle of a touring musician doesn’t really cater to traditions, or cozy holidays in familiar surroundings. Most years it’s difficult enough to pinpoint where home is, let alone figure out if you’re going to be there for the holidays or not. This is a challenge my family and I face each year, as we find a new normal to fit the season in life we find ourselves in.  We were created for community, and our desire is to be with people, to celebrate and live alongside them. This time of year brings much emphasis to this aspect of life that is often times missing on the road, or whatever city you settle in for the winter. When you feel the sense of anticipation growing each day, your thoughts begin to spin in the direction of your family. Maybe it’s blood relatives that you long to be with, who you haven’t seen in 6 months. Or maybe it’s the other ‘family’ that you’ve met on the road, and shared those trials with that you can only become familiar with by experience.  Where ever your heart may be, it’s not always possible to be there physically. The pain of separation is very real.

But, as He does, God always seems to remedy the heartaches that come with distance. Even in loneliness, this time of year is in place to recognize and celebrate the hope we have in Christ. To remember the incredible humility with which He came to save us. I pray that although we feel far off, and detached from the warmth of home and the cheerful voices that used to surround us often, that we would allow this hope to be our fuel. That it  would produce in us perseverance to continue to be a voice, and a light with every note we sing.  That we would be empowered to continue to lead people to a place where they too recognize the reason they are breathing. This is the greatest joy for me, in music and in life.

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.

Pieces of a Story

Pieces of a Story
By: Sydney Fontaine

The first time I heard the name “RYFO” I was sitting on a church pew in Nashville after a long night of street ministry. I have to confess that since I went to bed at 3:00 AM I was probably more asleep than I was awake.  I don’t remember who was sharing about it, and I don’t remember what they said, but I do recall that at the end of the presentation I was wide awake and writing down their website.

At that time in my life I never anticipated the impact that an organization like RYFO could have on a small band from central California, all I knew was that the concept was incredibly intriguing and captivating. I never anticipated that I would be (nervously) writing this blog a little over a year later. But God’s workings are much much different than ours, and if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that His plans are significantly better than mine.

In 2009 God called my family out of the walls of the church, where my dad was a full-time youth and worship pastor into full-time music ministry. In the past four years, I’ve gone from living in a house, to a basement, to an RV with my two brothers and parents, also known as my band mates.  Before we were called out of the church, I was  leading a comfortable lifestyle with comfortable aspirations. But throughout this journey my heart has been permanently changed. My life is no longer my own, it belongs to the Lord. Now I find myself sharing the hope of Christ with people through music in situations I often feel unprepared for.

Daily I am in contact with artists across the country that do the same, and who are searching for people to come along side them, to pray with them, to encourage them, to keep them accountable. Sometimes all we need is someone to simply “get it”, when we’re stuck on the side of the road for the 8th time with a blown tire or celebrating a holiday with another 10 hour drive.   This is the reason that RYFO resonates with me. It’s meeting artists where they are-in a state of exhaustion, in a state of an unsure future, in a state of feeling alone, and reminding us who we are in Christ. Reminding us that there is a significant purpose behind what we’re doing and that it’s more than just drive, play, sleep, repeat. God is moving in a family of believers who are passionate about redeeming the arts , and I am honored to have the opportunity to share pieces of that story with you.

What does RYFO look like?

The pictures below should help paint the picture of a RYFO Host Home experience.

Check out our Instagram to follow the visual story of RYFO in action.

Do you have pictures you would like us to share? Email your pictures to simeon@ryfo.org