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And that God did, through the form of Jennifer's parents, who packed up their own lives, giving up a year's salary to hit the road with the group as road manager and pastor. The couple have become like parents to the whole {{FFH}} entourage, providing mentorship and spiritual advice that has kept the group solid through all the expansion of the last year.

"I've never seen two people like Jennifer's mom and dad, who will work constantly to serve at any cost," says Jeromy. The older couple adds a mature perspective for the young band members. "Here is a 55 year old guy who has come in, and all of us are under his umbrella of accountability. [He] sees different things in us - he sees needs. Me, I'm a knee-jerk kind of guy - if something's wrong, I'm going to say it right away. But Jen's dad always says, 'Pray about it.' He has another 25 years of experience on me. The situation that we have is something that God has provided for us - it's unique, and I wouldn't want to change it."

Sitting politely through all this discussion on marriage and the annals of the FFH story is the twenty year old single guy and guitarist, Michael, who just joined the group this spring when former member Steve Croyle left the band to pursue a pastorship in his home town. So what's it like to be the seventh wheel on a tour bus with three married couples?

"It's different," Michael says with a grin, and a charming Oklahoma drawl. "It's good, though, because I get to be a student of watching people. I get to see how a husband should treat his wife and how a wife should treat her husband" (At which Jeromy and Jennifer both shake their heads and laugh knowingly). "Well, the pros and cons of both!" Michael admits. "But I also get to see how she wants to be treated. It's almost like I get to learn before the fact. Also, I came from tight knit familyand it helps out because [having the couples] makes it more of a family - that's one thing that I needed."

Michael is not only enjoying the opportunity to learn marriage skills early in life - he also is taking seriously the chance to grow spiritually under the leadership of the other FFH members, whom he had admired even as a college student. "One of the main things that I've learned with Jeromy is to remain blameless in everything, not just certain areas of your life...That's really a big word, especially for a 20 year old guy! You get preached to your whole life growing up - "Remain blameless!" But it doesn't really start to set in until you think, 'Wow my actions can affect how this person feels today, or how this person acts today. This smile that I put on my face might make this person feel a whole lot better'"

Jeromy is quick to share how Michael has affected the group in return. "Michael has set me down on a couple of occasions and said, 'Lookyou affect the way all ten of us act and feel and perform by just your attitude,' and no one had ever told me that before! He said, 'You're our leader, not just with the pointing of a finger, but with the way you talk, actand at the time he was encouraging me cause I'd done something right. But I realized in talking to him that there are times where I let people down just by my attitude. Michael came up to me and he saw just a different perspective on things, and he's able to share that, which is good."

The understanding of their individual roles within the group is part of what makes FFH able to connect so readily with their widely ranging audiences. Parents, teenagers, children and even college students can all be found at the typical FFH concert - it often seems like the whole church shows up.

"What God's teaching me is that what I do is no more important than what Brian, Michael, or Jennifer does," says the group's undeniable spokesperson, Jeromy. "I think there's a lot of ministry that happens that we don't ever get to see, that sometimes we even overlook, but it might be the most important ministry. I have the easy job of getting to be the talker - I'm fortunate in that, because I get to communicate with people on a spoken basis from stage more than anybody else. So people can hear my heart directly, and we're making more than just eye contact.

"But every night it seems that there are people who come up to Jennifer and say, 'Something that you did - the way you looked at me - the way you sang this - I could just see Jesus in your eyes!' Or they'll tell Brian how nice it is that's he so down to earth - and that ministry is just as important as what I might say in an invitation. It's just the way that God uses them in their niche inside FFH."

Having found its stride, FFH is now moving forward with a deeper understanding of what God has called them to do and the gifts He has equipped each of them with for accomplishing that calling. The road ahead may be as long as the one behind, but the group is pressing on -- confident in the grace of their Savior.

"Right now, we feel inadequate as artists," Jeromy says with an intense honesty. "God could have picked four better people to do the job - I say that in every concert. I think we feel like the first disciples when God said 'Let down your nets, come on let's go!' This past year has been a whirlwind year - we went from an independent band of six and a half years playing churches of 200 or 300 a night to this summer playing for 20,000 people! God just says, 'I give you the tools - go talk about me.'"

"What I want people to see in {{FFH}} - what our goal is, and I think we'd all agree - is that we want people to see us as evangelists who sing and play their instruments. And ultimately, I think that's what the great commission is all about - do what you do and do it wellbe evangelists that sing well, be evangelists that write interviews, be an evangelist that road manages," he says, with a nod toward me and the others in the room. "That's what we're called to be, and what I want God to see us as."

by Rachel Murphy for the Music Channel at crosswalk.com


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