They say a music career isn't for the faint of heart. What about young hearts?
What about this: You're a teenager leading worship at your father's church alongside your siblings. One day Dad says He feels the Lord calling your family to take a leap of faith and serve as musical missionaries across the country. So your family of seven sells everything, from your house to your beds, crams into an RV, and travels without a set destination to share the Gospel. How does your heart react to all that?
Welcome to the true story of YoungHeart, a contemporary Christian music group made up of Ubinas siblings Carlos, Michael, and Gaby (ages 19, 17, and 13, respectively). Two years ago their father presented them with the RV proposal, and life has, of course, never been the same. The last couple years have been their greatest journey as a family, full of ups, downs, literal bumps in the road, surprises...perhaps with their greatest surprise being that it's actually worked out. Throughout their ventures, God has provided opportunity, friendships, and an outlet for their music. The Ubinas' hearts may be young, but they are also courageous and bold, Spirit-led and Spirit-protected.
But let's back up, because the story doesn't start there.
Music found its way to the Young Heart clan in their earliest days. Though neither of their parents had musical backgrounds, they bought a piano right before Michael was born, just feeling something special about the instrument being a staple within their Miami household. From there, the melodies flowed.
"There has always been music in our house," Carlos says. " We're always singing, playing, even just casually for fun. Riding in the car, walking around the house, trying to learn a song...Whether it's one of us or we all join along, there's always been a song in the air."
So with their older sister Carina playing guitar, Carlos leading vocals, Michael playing keys, and Gaby playing drums, they lead worship at church and "performed" around the house, an audience of their parents and little sister Ellie. Life seemed pretty normal: they went to school, played sports, sang harmonies...
Then 2016: their dad presents the thought of leaving the comfort of all they know. Feedback was mixed: Michael protested such an unfamiliar path. Gaby liked the idea of a new chapter. Overall, they feared what would be ahead and had no clue what to expect. But they committed to God's calling. It wasn't about being musicians, it was about ministering to people through music.
Even with acceptance, the road ahead was uncharted. They had to depend on God as their map.
"We'd have no shows booked and be like 'God what do You want us to do?'" Carlos says. "We would knock on doors and ask people to play songs for them. We'd play in laundromats, on the side of the road. And then sometimes people would ask us to come play at their church or something. It wasn't about playing in big crowds, it was just about ministering"
They don't deny the experience felt odd at first. It stretched them to put their faith forward like never before. But with time they saw how God worked through the unknown, how His plans paved the way.
"It's completely Proverbs 3:5," the trio point out together. "Trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding."
They started writing their own songs, ones which they claim no were "very raw, not good at all...", yet received testimonies from listeners about their impact. a few months in, they realized there might be something there with their music.
"A spark came off in all of us," Carlos notes. "We were in Montana, in the middle of Glacier National Park...I remember we just took out a guitar and started writing more songs, thinking the Lord might want to do something with this."
Young Heart crafted new songs, developing their rhythmic, pop sound, which they describe as their "personality put into music." They had come to appreciate the unexpected nature of their unorthodox road life. Some of their favorite memories comes from visits that lasted longer than scheduled because of opportunities the Lord presented there.
"We were going to be in California for only a couple weeks, but we ended up staying longer, which was one of my favorite parts," Gaby mentions. Carlos adds, "It was just about seeing how the Lord used us right where we were, each day. Seeing the response of people, not for what we're doing, but for what the Lord is doing, that's why we're doing this and the best part."
Last year, their family did settle into a physical, non-moving home again-- at least, a little bit. With their oldest sister beginning college and the desire to be closer to family, they planted new roots in North Carolina. But the family is still most often on wheels and on the stage. Young Heart recently released their latest single "I Believe," a toe-tapping worship anthem offering reassurance about God's plans for our lives, which take us from "lost to living."
"We wanted to write a song about the journey of hardships feeling like it might never end," Carlos describes. "We wanted to take people through that, to tell where God can take them, because He does."
In repeating throughout the chorus "I believe, I believe, I believe Your Love..." they intentionally give the statement the boldness it embodies:
"The picture of God's love was Jesus. In the song, we're not just saying I believe in your love. There's a difference between belief in God's love and believing God's love. Even Satan believes in Jesus. We're saying we believe in Him AND we believe Him," Carlos explains. "We believe what He tells us is true, which is that he fights for us and that He is all we need for life. We believe He means that for each of us personally. The world has its own definitions of what love is. But knowing and believing Jesus as true Love is what changes everything."
Everything changing. That's something the Ubinases have come to understand a lot about these recent years. Paired with Trust in the Lord, patience, and the belief in God's constant, unwavering hope for our lives, all of which makes the craziest-sounding plans possible. They cling to 1 Timothy 4:12 as their stronghold:
"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity."
It's a message two-fold: Encouragement for youth to fearlessly pursue God's call, to put aside the world's opinions and know that there is no waiting for a certain landmark to be ready to follow the big things He stirs within. And then, it's a message for people who have a few more years under their belt. The band reaches older generations with the thoughtful reminder of finding young hearts of faith at any age. After all, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3 NIV)
No matter one's age, we can all have young hearts. And we should. Because it takes a young heart to seek and follow truth when it's not conventional or comfortable. A heart open to whatever God calls, even it that's an open road and an unwritten song. You'll find a few lessons along the way:
"The Bible says the man plans but God guides his steps," Michael shares "We've learned to trust God because you may not know what is happening, but God will still be there guiding you, showing you where to step and where to go."
"Sometimes it can be frustrating," Gaby adds, then continues, with a laugh- "especially doing it with siblings! Being so close together all the time...But overall, it can be difficult, but you have to have patience in the process."
"It's about trusting God and wanting to be radical in your love for Him. Not that you necessarily have to sell your house or do what we did, but if God is calling you to something the world doesn't say is normal, that's okay," Carlos says. "For us, hearing how the Gospel has been spread, we don't really care how it happens. Our goal is to spread the message of the Lord. That's our hope."