How Harps of Praise Came to Be
"Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God, my exceeding joy; yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God, my God." Psalm 43:4
Harps to praise the Lord with. This was David's vision when he made them
(1 Chronicles 23:5). When we think of harps, we think of heavenly, worshipful music which God loves, which He has chosen to have in heaven around the throne (Revelation 5:8, 14:2).
It was December 26, 1999, and we wanted a special gift for our son Joel's 16th birthday. We all enjoyed singing and sacred music, and since Joel had been showing a real interest in stringed instruments, we felt this would be a profitable gift, plus a wonderful addition to our home school. We were considering a certain instrument, had even bought the hardware to build it, but were not feeling quite settled about it. That evening we went to visit some church friends. Hanging on their bulletin board was a picture of a small lap harp that someone had built. This struck an immediate chord with me-the perfect gift for Joel! Reuben did not feel capable of such an undertaking, but still sent for plans, and soon the first small lap harp was underway! Our other children, Darlene-14, D.-12, and Joshua-10 were also overjoyed when it was built, and all were soon picking out tunes! To their delight, a month later Reuben finished a second one!
We purchased a harp music recording which served to inspire us and give our children a great desire to really learn to play the harp well. At that time it seemed like a mountain, though. We had never seen anyone play a harp in person, so when we heard about a harp teacher not too far away, we arranged to visit her. It ended up that she gave us four concentrated lessons, teaching the hand technique, chords, etc. After that we found an excellent book, Learning to Praise the Lord with the Harp. It was thorough, yet simple to understand, having plenty of illustrations, and made to be a teach-yourself book. As the children practiced, our daily prayer was "Lord, please help us to learn quickly."
Then, since Reuben had enjoyed building the lap harps so much, and because he had no work at the present, he thought he would try a larger one-a 31-string harp! We all were thrilled at the new, rich tones made by this larger harp.
Reuben's original occupation was building hickory furniture,
but for some reason the hickory business seemed to be going to nothing. The man we were building for had not been able to pay up, and we had received no orders for at least 2 weeks. So we cried out to the Lord to show us what we should do. Little did we know what God had planned.
One day someone suggested, "Why don't you take your harps to home school conventions?" Reuben wasn't sure about that. It was out of his "comfort zone." "Whoever would want to buy my harps?" he said. But after praying, we inquired at three home school conventions. They were filled up. "That door is shut," we thought. But that week all three places called us back, inviting us to come, saying they had received cancellations! So the door was open after all!
We went and were pleasantly surprised to see how much interest that there was in harps. People were also very surprised as they listened to our children play simple hymns. They could hardly believe they had only been playing about four months, with no previous experience with any instrument! Many were also touched as they listened to the beautiful hymns played on the harps.
We started playing in nursing homes, and soon we were asked to give programs in churches and other places. Even though we had not originally planned on doing that, we found it was an opportunity to give out and bless others, and we in return were blessed. The Lord has also made it possible for us to go to Pennsylvania to make four harp recordings—the first one in 2001, the second in 2002, the third in 2004, and the forth in 2006-which was a real highlight for us.
To make a long story short, today, 10 years later, Reuben has built over 110 harps, and Joel & Joshua build hickory furniture. Darlene does the main secretarial work such as answering the telephone, letters and emails, and shipping CDs and cassettes, and also helps build the harps. D. & S. H. were married on September 5, 2009, and currently reside in the south, with their precious little son, S. J., born June 1, 2011. D. has a harp, and enjoys blessing others with music whenever someone requests it. Over the years I have helped with ideas for harp arrangements, done recordkeeping and planned programs. All of our children have enjoyed developing harp arrangements. We do not have as many harp programs as we used to, but we always love to play whenever we get a request. The two youngest members in our family, Jewel (4) and Jonathan (3), continue to grow and develope in their love for music. Jewel came home to us from Guatemala in August 2006, and Jonathan in August 2007. Joel married a lovely young lady, Helena, on July 19, 2008, and they also have a precious little son, Joel Andrew. They live about 3 miles from us, and Joel still comes to the shop here to work.
So that is how Harps of Praise, the family business/ministry that the Lord has given us, came to be. If we would have tried to make it happen, it just wouldn't have, so we praise our heavenly Father for what He has done.
We also thank the Lord for enabling Reuben to build these harps and the gift He has given our children to play them. God has been so good and so faithful. Whenever He shuts one door, He opens another. Oftentimes, He shuts one door, so we can see another door standing open that He wants us to walk through! It is so exciting to let Him lead.
We also thank Him for all the dear ones He has put into our lives who have blessed, inspired, and encouraged us. Our desire is that our Lord Jesus Christ alone would receive all the praise and glory through our lives and our music.
"Unto him that loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood... to him [Jesus Christ] be glory and dominion for ever." Revelation 1:5, 6
Because of JESUS,
Reuben and Naomi,
Joel & Helena & Joel Andrew Hostetler,
Darlene & Levi,
D & S,
Joshua, Jewel and Jonathan Hostetler