She is young and she is ready to throw it all away. She is tired of the dysfunction and heartache that has followed her all of her young life. Drugs no longer appease her and love has always eluded her. In her desperation, she quietly makes plans to take her own life the very next day. Her grandmother reads her despair and begs her to attend church that evening but church is the last place she wants to be. “All those happy people don’t have any problems,” she tells her. “They think they know all the answers and they don’t know anything. They don’t know anything about me or my life and nobody is like me there.” Her grandmother’s persistence pays off, however, and reluctantly the girl agrees to go. Little did Lacey Mosley know that she had a divine appointment that night and that God would meet her right at her need. Lacey was one of the fortunate ones but what about those youths who refuse to enter the doors of their local sanctuary because they believe that “nobody is like me there?” Who will minister to those that the traditional church cannot reach because they either dislike organized religion or have been burned or judged by it? Who can relate to those who have fallen so deep into the cracks of sin that they deem the church incapable of understanding them? To whom will this lost generation give the right to speak to their circumstance? Modern times are raising up a generation of Christian leaders who are meeting these young people where they are at. The presentation may be changing but the Word is not and the “who” that God is sending is a group of five people who call themselves The Whosoevers.
Formed in 2008, The Whosoevers are comprised of Sonny Sandoval from the popular Christian metal band P.O.D., Ryan Ries, known for his work in action sports and underground music industries, Lacey Mosley singer of Flyleaf, freestyle motocross aerialist Ronnie Faisst and Brian”Head” Welch, former guitarist of the nu metal band Korn. Each of these members has a story to share about their own addictions and self-destructive behavior. Their urgency is to reach the youth that are beyond the grasp of the church via concerts and personal testimonies. Their name is taken from John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” To understand their Life is to understand the struggles that brought them to where they are at. Their fame and notoriety no doubt draw their audiences and their “worldly” appearance cinch their relatability, but in the end it is their humble testimonies and their willingness to be transparent and accessible that strike a chord in the hearts of the youth they speak to all around the world.
Sonny grew up in a dysfunctional yet loving family in San Diego, CA. He did drugs and partied hard like most teenagers he knew. When his uncle became a Christian, the love he had for the Lord began to influence his family. One by one they all came to accept Christ, including his own mother. Even though his mom would talk to him about God, Sonny was not ready to accept Him. When she learned that she was dying of cancer, Sonny was still not swayed. The week before her death he was constantly by her side. Doctors told Sonny that she was hanging onto life for a reason and he instantly knew that reason was him. In the hospital parking lot he cried out to God, wanting to know the Jesus his mom loved and he asked the Lord to make Himself real to him. He did just that and Sonny gave his life to Christ that day. He told his mother and soon after she passed away in peace. To deal with his grief, Sonny became the front man of a metal band called P.O.D. (Payable On Death), named for our sins being paid by Jesus death on the cross. P.O.D. has been together 19 years and has garnered much success and acclaim spreading the message of God’s hope and love around the world. After a while, however, Sonny became embittered and disillusioned by the harsh judgment he was receiving from the church. He took a break and went home to reflect and spend time with his family. God restored him and gave him a vision for The Whosoevers.
Through it, he would go after and love people who would not normally listen to a message of hope. Those kids, he would soon learn, resided not only in the worldly venues but in the church themselves. For the worldly youth, he had this message: “God is going to meet you where you’re at. God will clean you up, and will take away your guilt and your shame. He will forgive you if you repent of your sins and He will change your lives.” For those kids he deems are “playing church”, he offers this message: “Jesus wants to have a relationship with you guys. This isn’t your mom and dad’s religion. This isn’t your pastor’s religion. This is a relationship Jesus wants to have with you guys.”
Together with Sonny, Ryan Ries co-founded The Whosoevers. Son of Raul Ries, pastor and evangelist of one of the largest churches in California, Ryan is a prodigal who grew up rebellious and chose the worldly path instead of following Christ. After almost two decades, he amassed much success by bringing the underground skate and music scenes together, creating C1RCA Footwear, managing top skateboard teams and working in the action sport and underground music industries. His lifestyle gave him all the world had to offer: money, women and drugs. After 19 years of partying, overdosing and watching his friends die, however, Ryan was left empty. In his hotel room one night, he chose to give his life to Christ and quit the drugs, booze and lifestyle in one shot. Ryan knew he could relate to kids and the dire problems they face today. He feels God calling him to minister to youth in the darkest of places. Interestingly, he believes that the traditional method of reaching kids hasn’t worked for years. He claims that he didn’t listen and neither is anyone else. “I want to go back and reach the kids that don’t know anything about Jesus,” he states. “Those that are miserable and come from some crazy background-beaten as kids, drugs, whatever. Our generation is not the ’70’s – it isn’t peace and love. We want to get screwed up and get wild and go punch stuff and kick people. I know I did.”
Known as the singer of Flyleaf and for her huge crossover hit All Around Me, Lacey was born to a single mother and started doing drugs at the tender age of ten. At 14, she was given a bass guitar where she began to hone her musical talent. At 16, however, her home life became volatile and her mother kicked her out and sent her to live with her grandparents. Dealing with depression, and the loss of her siblings, boyfriend and drugs brought her nearly to her end. While she contemplated committing suicide, her grandmother pleaded with her to go to church. After the service, someone came up to her with a message that changed the course of her life: “Even though you’ve never known an earthly father, He will be a better father to you than any earthly father could be.” After that revelation Lacey’s life would never be the same. She credits the pain in her early years for helping her recognize the pain in others. Through her testimony and music, she offers up that sweetness of comfort that only God could give to those who are hurting.
Considered the founding father of freestyle motocross, Ronnie is also part of The Metal Mulisha, the most medaled team of riders in the history of the sport. As the sport continued to grow, so did Ronnie’s popularity thanks to his performances at the X Games and Gravity Games. He fell into the typical trappings of success and fame. One night, however, he watched a sermon on television regarding a topic that he knew all too well. It was about fear, a topic Ronnie could relate to being in motocross. He soon dedicated his life to God and his profession gives him the perfect platform to talk to youths about the Lord.
Brian “Head” Welch
Reaching the pinnacle of success as the guitarist for the Grammy award-winning and multi-platinum selling band Korn, Head had the world at his feet. He was a prisoner of methamphetamines and alcohol and constantly dealt with depression and suicidal thoughts. His relationship with his wife Rebekah was mutually abusive and destructive. After she abandoned him and their daughter Jennea, he came to the realization that he needed the Lord and had to save himself for his daughter’s sake. In 2005, he announced that he was quitting the band to commit his life to God and to raising his daughter. He wrote a best selling autobiography, Save Me From Myself, that serves as the perfect testimony for how God poured out His grace and granted him peace over his demons. Perhaps no other Bible verse speaks to Head more than the one that was sent to him when he was at a crossroads: Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” It is now tattooed on his neck as a reminder of God’s infinite care for him. Given the extremes that youths today are surrounded by, that promise of respite may be exactly the message they need to hear. For many, it will come by way of The Whosoevers, the modern day evangelists who understand their world and reach out to show the extreme of God’s love.
For more information on The Whosoevers, visit: www.thewhosoevers.com. Lisette Frevola can be reached at [email protected].