I spent many layovers in the United Kingdom while flying for American Airlines. It was one of my favorite places to visit. As an owner of MG’s, I also have an interest in British cars. In addition, my wife and I enjoy watching BBC television programming. Obviously, I have a natural interest in most anything British.
Likewise, I am passionate about modern worship music. When our children were in high school, my wife and I observed the power of God's Word communicated through this type of music and were convinced that this was something we wanted to support in their lives.
Then, our family had the pleasure of working as staff members on the KLove Family and Friends Music Cruise in the Caribbean. There were approximately twenty different top Christian artists (bands) performing on the cruise, including Chris Tomlin and David Crowder. They were performing day and night it seems. It was hard to miss them. It even made an impression with crew members on the ship. Seventy-five crew members from around the world requested a copy of the Holy Bible. The ship’s captain said this had never happened before. Christian music was the catalyst for getting Bibles into the hands of many people worldwide. (Since then I have made an effort to provide a supply of Bibles on that cruise—a privilege for me.)
Pursuing these two interests, anything British and Modern Worship Music, led me to the discovery that many Christian artists from the states did very little or no touring in Great Britain.
In America, it seems we have an endless number of Christian FM radio stations that are owned by many companies. As expensive as they may be, this allows for approximately 1,800 Christian FM radio stations across the US. Having a vast number of stations also affords many opportunities for Christian artists with plenty of over-the-air play time.
After a bit of research, I found that in Great Britain much of the radio station ownership is through the government (i.e. BBC). This type of ownership has limited the number of Christian FM radio stations to only eight in all of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This in turn limits the amount of over-the-air play time for artists from America which makes touring less likely. This obviously has an impact on those artists from the UK as well.
Suddenly I realized why this bothered me. The limiting effect on over-the-air play time has made it especially difficult for many American CCM/modern worship music artists to deliver His message to Great Britain’s teens and young adults. Since that point of discovery, I have been on a mission to fill this gap. Perhaps it is worth knowing that the UK is making progress with a relatively new digital radio system DAB. However, audio quality is lower than on FM and currently only 26.5% of their radio listening is through this digital platform.
Today, thankfully, some popular artists from the states such as Chris Tomlin, TobyMac, Casting Crowns, Amy Grant, Newsboys, Michael W. Smith are being heard in the UK. Unfortunately, we have many other artists with extremely powerful messages that are relatively unknown to the young people in the UK because of the radio issue (gap) mentioned above. Incidentally, Matt Redman, Tim Hughes, and Martin Smith, amazing contemporary Christian and modern worship music artists, are from (or live) in the UK. My hope is that together, the UK and America, can take this type of music to an even higher level to reach more young people, in both countries.
I am often asked “Why the UK?” Some would say “They hosted the Olympics. They are not in need.” I had a supporter of my initiative answer it best. “Sometimes we get caught up trying to help countries that are Third World because we believe it has the most need, but that doesn’t mean we forget the communities that are looked upon to be less needy.” Needy in this case has to do with the continued decline of Christian statistics in America and the UK, especially among the young people—the future of our churches.
As I began developing ideas for filling this gap, I quickly realized that in order to have a noticeable impact, this initiative was going to require some serious funding…
Sensing the Lord had other plans for me, I left the highly coveted captain seat at American Airlines which meant that I had to seriously seek God’s wisdom regarding how to fund this initiative. Looking back it is easy to see that He has been preparing me for this journey from the very beginning.
After all the many layovers researching coffee and cafes I thought that I would someday have a coffee shop of my own. As it turns out, God’s plan was for me to be on the roasting side of the business. My mission is to help fund the organization, FILL THE GAP CONCERTS TM. I am excited about this journey and will follow His lead to fill the gap wherever the Gospel needs to be preached.
By enjoying FosterHobbs Coffee, you, too, are filling the gap! Thank you for being a part of this journey with me!