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            Growing up in Mississippi the (now) son of a literal “preacher man”, Ryan Rumfelt, was immersed in various styles     and genres of music.  He recalls as a child the first time his dad played the song “Country Roads” by John Denver in the tape deck of the car on a long road trip.  He also recalls various gospel musicians his dad would listen to.  His mom was more of a traditional country music listener and exposed him early on to bands such as Alabama and solo artists such as Dolly Parton, George Strait and Randy Travis.  Ryan had an uncle that he idolized as he would blare Hank Williams, Jr. as loud as possible while speeding down the country back roads of his hometown of Tutwiler, Mississippi in his classic Ford Falcon. 

            Ryan remembers the countless rock bands that played locally at Jackson taverns and music events.  He recalls the first time he heard Led Zeppelin, AC/DC and the Beastie Boys on his older brother’s stereo and felt surely he was not far from hell’s gate.  Even earlier, he remembers listening to Run-Dmc on a smuggled-in Walkman within the halls of his sixth grade elementary school.  In high school, feeling a bit disillusioned with life and popular music, he immersed himself in the music of the

60’s and 70’s as well as alternative music and an alternative lifestyle (and I’m not talking nude beaches in Mexico).            

            Around the age of ten or eleven, Ryan muses about the first time he authored and recorded a song.  His dad brought home an old dictaphone from work that people used back in the day to record vocal dialogue for their secretaries to later write down.  Ryan decided to “dictate” a song into it.  The song was some sort of freestyle about being oneself or some such idea.  Laughing, Ryan says that thankfully that song never saw the light of day, but it was during that experience that he remembers feeling that a desire had ignited within him to write lyrics.


            As it was for many of us, it was the same for Ryan.  Music was always playing somewhere in the background while growing up.  By high school, music only seemed enhanced by the copious amounts of drugs and alcohol that Ryan began to consume.  By age twenty, he had hit a spiritual and physical bottom that many addicts only hit during mid-life or later.  At this point, Ryan had been swallowed for years by addiction and was facing the alternative of either dying a miserable, lonely death or seeking help. 


            Sure, he had grown up the son of extremely religious parents and had heard about God in church (at least three times a week and sometimes more), but to Ryan, this God business seemed to be just some obligatory duty of following a list of rules and regulations.  He believed the stories he heard about God to be nothing more than a series of fabled tales—until one late night in a drug den when all was quiet and he was still awake for fear of falling asleep and not waking up.  It was there that he offered up somewhat of a faithless prayer for help certainly not expecting any type of response.  He was wrong.  At that moment, he came to know that there was a God and that this God was very interested in helping him.  Although the next day, he and a few others he told tried desperately to chalk the experience up to some sort of hallucination or figment of his imagination, he could not deny what he experienced and felt. 


            It was shortly after this experience that Ryan became completely sober.  He thought that returning to the church must be the answer since he had this encounter with God and that was really all he knew from growing up.  He began attending a church in a small town where he soon became youth leader and led mission trips to Mexico and Africa.  He also picked back up the guitar and began to lead contemporary worship services as well as write his own music.  All of this seemed so right at the time, but he knew that something was still amiss.   Ryan discovered that he had lost touch with that once so close and personal drug den God and had begun following the crowd and worshiping the god of religion.  It had all become a duty and he feared he was becoming what he once so despised growing up.  He was on track to going to some seminary and receiving formal, religious training, but…


            The youth ministry came to an abrupt halt due to number of seemingly uncontrollable circumstances.  In retrospect, Ryan believes these were a divinely and perfectly ordained set of circumstances to free him from that system.  Ryan was asked to step down and ultimately left that church.  He wondered where this “grace” was that he had so often heard from the pulpit of this church.  He was faced with the dilemma of looking at the truth or continuing on in a delusional bubble of religious duty, control and bondage. 


            Completely disillusioned with his bitter experience, he began to play his original music in local bars, taverns, parties and wherever would have him.  He returned to some of his old habits.  However, to his surprise, he soon realized that that this God that he had met that late night in the drug den was still by his side and very interested in having a relationship with him.  He was amazed that this God did not shame him or sit him in the corner until he had shown enough repentance to crawl back to the altar.  This God did not condemn or judge him or require perfection.  Ryan learned that God was not interested in the least bit about duty based in religiosity, but rather, a daily, deep spiritual relationship with Himself.  Slowly, this God began to take him to new place of freedom.


            Although Ryan returned to alcohol and drugs for a few years, it was as if a line in the sand was drawn as to how far down the scale he could go this time.  No matter what he did or how much he drank, he could not get away from or forget the bright spiritual experience that he had that night in the drug den years before.   Finally, he let go and surrendered to this “drug den God” that he knew was real.  He rediscovered his sobriety and discovered a beautiful life.  June 20, 2016 will mark eleven years of recovery for Ryan. 


            Ryan believes that all people are welcome into relationship with God and no one is ever excluded.  He believes there are no rules or requirements or ongoing duties to follow to have a living and beautiful experience with God.  Ryan’s desire is to relay this simple message through his songs and experiences. *

*Ryan Rumfelt is not affiliated or associated with any one particular religious organization, church or denomination*

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