I attended Wichita ’95 when I was a freshman in high school. Up until that point, I thought worship music was hymns and silly camp songs. It was nothing like the music I liked to listen to. Then I went to convention and Ritch Hostetler was up on stage leading the praise team. The excitement of the youth gathered to sing along with the music that I connected to, was incredibly formational for me. I remember thinking how cool it would be to play on stage like that, but at that point I didn’t even know how to play guitar.

Back at Salem Mennonite church in Nebraska several of us started a contemporary praise team. Since then, I have continued to say “yes” when God has opened a door for me to be involved in music, and it has taken me to some incredible places. Not the least of which has been being on stage just like Ritch – leading the youth praise band at San Jose 2007 and Columbus 2009. I thank God for the seed that was planted in me at convention.

Jeremy Kempf – grew up in Shickley, Nebraska