Meet Francy

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This is Francy.  Francy has been a part of the Renegade family since September of last year.  He has been a tidalwave of fun and musical theory that has pushed us all as musicians and worshipers to the next level with our craft.  Last November Francy joined us at the Faith In Focus event for the Virginia Military Institute.  The following are his thoughts on the encounter with those cadets and his experience with Renegade.  You can follow Francy though his other projects Hello Kelly, Lighthart, and his newly published book 100 Songwriting Prompts.  

I wasn't expecting to be a part of Renegade Music Ministries. Life was going just fine and if you'd asked me if I had time to be a part of a music ministry, I'd have likely said no.
But when the team reached out to me about being part of one of their weekends, something stirred in me to say yes, even though I didn't know what to expect. In the whirlwind that followed, I met some of my favorite people as a part of this ministry. And I got to be part of a very powerful weekend, with music, ministry, and God's presence. (And a lot of fantastic food too.)

During the worship sessions we facilitated, I was struck by the sheer discipline and commitment these students apply to their faith lives. Military school is no joke! But they showed up hungry for God, for an encounter with his Spirit. It was very inspiring and an honor to be a part of the sessions with them.

As a bass player, my role in Renegade is relatively small. But I can't overstate the importance of this vision. I don't see anybody else offering this kind of spiritually edifying service to the young men and women on track to enter the US military and I'm proud to be a part of it.
Francy

Francy will be joining us again this coming weekend as we head to Ft Knox Kentucky.  

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NEW BEGINNINGS

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I am sitting in a new chair, at a new table, in a new house, on a new street, in an old town.  My wife and I have finally settled in to our new surroundings in Nashville, TN.  School has started, work is demanding, the cars still need to be registered, we still have boxes everywhere, and the music scene is amazing.  We could not have asked for God to put us in a better place.

Recently two of my favorite song writers each put out a new album.  It’s always a little nerve racking when a favorite artist does something new.  What if it’s not good?  What if they jump the shark and do something totally out of left field?  What if this singer that I have spent years building a relationship with, in my mind, isn’t who I thought they were?  What if?  All of these questions, and more, flooded my mind as I awaited record release day.  Well it turns out both of these trusted writers pulled through.  They both have reinvented themselves in ways I never would have imagined, and it’s excellent.  New sounds, new instrumentation, new topics to write about and all of it wonderful and musically therapeutic to my ears.  I got a new set of headphones and have been in my own little bubble for the past week just studying the sounds they use, the way they structure their songs, and the lyrics they use to create images in listeners’ heads. 

What does this have to do with Renegade?

Today the Nashville chapter of Renegade has its first rehearsal.  Later tonight some new friends, and some old ones, will be dragging instruments into my living room for an informal jam/worship session.  It’s bare bones, it’s dirty, it’s unpolished, it’s unstructured, it's raw and it’s a pure and new start.  I’m excited to connect with new musicians and worshipers for a night that promises to only get better as time goes on.  I am encouraged and inspired by my favorite song writers’ new work.  Coming into a new ensemble gives plenty of opportunity to experiment with new sounds and structures and styles of worshiping the Father.  And what’s even more exciting is that the Master Artist’s hands are all over this.  So no matter what skills and proficiencies we bring to the table, the final mix is going to be engineered by God.  What’s better than that?

This new rag-tag bunch of Nashville musicians are preparing for the future of Renegade.  In November we will be participating in the FAITH N FOCUS conference at the Virginia Military Institute.  It will be three intense days with the Keydets worshiping and learning what God has planned for the VMI campus.  Renegade also has plans to visit Ft. Bragg, Ft. Campbell, and Ft. Belvoir in the following months.  We cannot wait to bring worship events to these military communities.   To connect with them before the throne and experience Gods wonder together

As we get the ball rolling tonight here in Nashville I ask that you help us carry this momentum.  Please continue to pray for this ministry.  Please continue to pray for military communities all over the globe.  I get the feeling many of them will be facing new trials and battlefields very soon, and they will always need our support.  Please continue to support Renegade so that we have the means necessary to reach into these communities.  Please remember that new things are coming, and new things are good.  “His mercies are new every morning.”  I can’t wait to see what else He can do.  Pray for pure hearts and clean hands.

I look forward to worshiping with you soon.

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Jeff Widenhofer From Wings Worship - Wheeler Army Airfield

Simple, Pure, and Awesome.

Robbie Phillips moved to Tennessee last month and I now serve as the music leader at Wheeler Army Chapel.

And I love it.

I’ve been a full-time musician for many years, ever since leaving active duty in 2006.  I’ve played guitar on big stages and live television events and I’ve recorded music for films seen by millions of people, but I’ve never led worship music in a church service.  Not until recently.

It’s almost too simple.  My focus is to lead the people in music and to make an environment where every person sitting in the building can use music to feel the Spirit.  To simply stand and sing in the presence of God.

He does the rest.  God works on our hearts, forgives us, and fills us.  All I can do is prepare songs, practice with other musicians, and then sing out.

It’s the purest form of music I’ve ever experienced.

I’m not worried about how powerful my performance is.  I’m not worried about filling the chapel with people.  Nor am I worried about pleasing anyone.  I’m taking the gifts and talents I have and focusing them heavenward.

And God sees into our hearts.  He knows when my focus is on something other than Him.  It often is, but God gives us the chance to stand with Him in his overwhelming power.  It’s nothing short of awesome.  Leading worship is more rewarding and fulfilling than any performance or job I’ve ever done.

 

You can see more of Jeff through is other music venture Solidman at www.facebook.com/solidmanworks and every Sunday at Wheeler Chapel 1100.

Josh Harden from HMR Chapel Hawaii

Josh is a Renegade worship leader who has been serving at HMR chapel for several months.  Here is a little bit of his story and the growth in that community.

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About two months before I became the praise and worship leader at HMR

Chapel, I had the opportunity to fill in one Sunday for Robbie. That Sunday I

was joined by one other singer and I learned that the chapel didn’t have a

permanent worship leader. I was told by heavy hearts that they had a new

person leading just about every other week. Due to my visits to military

chapels throughout the years, I honestly wasn’t surprised. I can’t speak for

anyone else, but in all the chapels I have ever visited, the worship seemed to

be the most neglected aspect of the service. From Korea to England to

Hawaii, I saw the same thing at the majority of the chapels I visited and it

was overwhelming. Before I began leading worship and I was just attending

church, I noticed the praise and worship set up the rest of service and, for

me, it could easily make or break my experience there. So while stationed in

England I started to hear the calling to lead praise and worship for military

chapels. I found that having a dedicated praise and worship team was really

hard to manage at times because the members of the team were military. If

we weren’t losing someone to deployment, they were traveling, on leave,

military training, appointments…. You get the picture… and unfortunately the

congregations fall victim to subpar worship or, in some cases, none at all. So

to hear that HMR had di-erent leaders every week and virtually no team at

times really made an impact on me. This congregation, though small, was so

energetic and wanted to worship. I was new to them, but they sang their

hearts out and I could really tell how much they were serious about worship.

After that service I had a bunch of the people from the congregation come up

and thank me and tell me how great it was to have me. I felt so welcomed

and like I was a part of their family.

 HMR Congregation at a recent beach service and baptism  

HMR Congregation at a recent beach service and baptism  

It’s been a little more than four months now and the praise team has grown

to ten members and the congregation has doubled in size. I know that it’s

not just the praise and worship team that is bringing the growth, but we have

received so many compliments and words of encouragement. We have had

many families say that they are making this chapel their home away from

home. They say that they are getting the closest experience to their home

church that they have gotten since joining the service… Just knowing how

much of an impact our praise and worship team is making on these military

families is overwhelming. This needs to spread to all the chapels throughout

the military.

VMI Winter Retreat

The Virginia Military Institute is a strange place to go to college.  It’s a small state military school hiding away in the back woods of Lexington, Virginia, population: minimal.  The Institute is inhabited with young men and women who chose to sacrifice the typical college experience and set their eyes on greater things. Instead of frat parties, dorms, fast food dining halls, lack of curfew, class schedules that can be molded to sleep patterns, and over all freedom; VMI dictates the structure and stress of a military lifestyle.  These young men and women get up at dawn to do PT, wear formal uniforms to all their classes, live in military barracks and have to march to meals every day.  This is a college career that takes dedication and determination that most of us do not have.  The Keydets of VMI are a breed of people I could never be, yet I admire and one day, when I grow up, I’d like to be just like them. 

This past weekend we met around 50 VMI cadets and staff members at a small retreat center in the mountains about an hour outside of Lexington.  Renegade was invited to lead worship for their winter retreat.  It was an honor and a privilege to spend a weekend with these outstanding young people.  The speaker for the retreat was Ranger Chaplain Jon Knoedler out of Leavenworth, Kansas.  His topic of focus was IDENTITY.  Throughout the weekend we studied Romans 8, in its entirety, to discover who people say we are, who we say we are, who people say Jesus is, who we say Jesus is and Chaplain Knoedler closed it all by focusing on who God says we are. 

We were there to lead worship. In a new place, with new gear and a couple new musicians, it seemed like a daunting task, but God showed up and made it all work out.  Not only that, but the experience of worshiping with this particular group of people was inspiring.  They sing louder and prouder than most chapel services I’ve seen through the years.  These kids are not bashful in the least about raising their voices to praise our Father.  It was exciting and inspiring and only made the band want to play louder and longer than we were expected to.  In fact, during one session we got prayed off the stage, ending our set a little earlier than we expected.  Maybe some of the older staff couldn’t keep up.  Nevertheless, the weekend went on and went strong. 

During meals, along with choking down bad lasagna, we got to learn a little bit about these kids and where they want to go in life.   Some of them want to join the military, some of them want to be missionaries, and some of them still don’t have a clue what the future holds.  But they were all present in the moment and there for the purpose of discovering their IDENTITY in Christ.  For this small amount of time they were not defined by their class, or rank; they were all there as children of God, and they knew it.  Outside of the barracks walls that colored them all grey and uniform, they were experiencing and expecting something great.

We closed the weekend with a song by Christ Tomlin called “God of This City,” and my prayer as we finished was for these students to go back to the craziness that is VMI and continue to expect God to do great things.  I pray that they remember that God is God of all and this retreat doesn’t end Sunday night when they get back to their barracks room.  The great things God does will spill over and flood the barracks as they have flooded this tiny retreat center hidden in the mountains of Virginia.  As long as these kids, who already chose greatness, remember their IDENTITY in Him, then His greatness will continue. 

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this retreat.  As Renegade continues to grow, may we also be reminded of the great things God is doing, and our IDENTITY in Him. 

 

“Red, White, and Yellow float on high

The Institute shall never die

So now Keydets with one voice cry

God bless our team and V. M. I.”

  

*if you’d like to help renegade continue our mission for military chapels please head to our website and hit the donate button.  www.renegademusicministries.com