The Lycan family purchases the Ichthus festival grounds in hopes to minister to the community

By Katherine Oostman
Staff Writer

Nearly a year ago, Joe and Cheryl Lycan snapped a picture of a sunset from West Virginia and posted it on Facebook. They called the sunset a “pillar of fire,” referencing the Biblical story of God leading the Israelites out of the desert at night by a burning column of fire. 

The Kentucky natives soon received a similar picture from a friend back home, who happened to be walking near Ichthus Farm at the same moment. The picture depicted the sun nestling directly over the outdoor stage of Ichthus, overexposing the camera with its brightness — another pillar of fire. This sign confirmed for the Lycans their next step of faith — to purchase Ichthus Farm.

Joe Lycan, a geologist by trade, has played in the Christian rock band Sons of Thunder at Ichthus Music Festival for the past five years. In July 2012, he learned that the tradition and legacy Ichthus Festival carried as a celebration of Christian music and youth was in danger.

The company faced bankruptcy, so Lycan and his wife, Cheryl, offered to pay off the mortgage and ensure the continuation of an outreach that they and their community held dearly. The company refused this offer for a reason the Lycan family would not disclose. 

When the Ichthus property went up for sale, they “felt the Lord saying to secure the property.”

By March 2013, the Lycan family had secured the property and a new name for their ministry:

Servant Heart Farm. Lycan describes its remade purpose as a “tetrahedral model that combines music, ministry, mission and stewardship with a community and regional youth emphases.” 

Although Lycan intends to use celebratory concerts similar to Ichthus Festival, he explained that Servant Heart Farm is a completely different ministry. Music is only one of the ways he hopes to bring the community together. 

Lycan is also planning movie nights, story-telling events, farming opportunities for kids in the area and even 18th century living classes. Lycan stated this ministry’s goal is to create a “student-driven, student-led, Christ-centered organization that is not managed or controlled by academians.”

Servant Heart Farm will become a central pillar of the bluegrass community characterized by its involvement with Asbury University and Asbury Seminary. “We are trying to knit the community back together,” Lycan said. “We are laying it at the feet of Jesus and letting him resurrect it as he sees fit.” Although his goal is bold, Lycan’s faith that God will step in and provide a way is stronger. Lycan said of his trust in God through this venture, “He’s management. We’re sales.” 

Through his experience with Ichthus Ministries, Lycan observed that empowering the youth to facilitate their own events is the best way to build up strong characters for Christ: “Youth are craving something they can sink their teeth into,” he said. “We all need Christ no matter what age we’re at. But the youth are overlooked.” He went on to mention this is a problem that churches should look at in their own communities as well: “The reason our churches are not experiencing growth and enthusiasm is because we haven’t properly embraced and empowered our youth.”

This coming April, Lycan wants to empower children, high-schoolers, college kids and seminary students of the Lexington area by encouraging them to come out on the 26th for a single-day concert event. Bands like Disciple, The Neverclaim and Bright Gray will be performing at Servant Heart Farm’s premiere event. Tickets will cost $10 with all of the proceeds going to fund future ministries. 

Lycan hopes to continue the “celebration of Christ” year-round. He stressed the focus on the youth: “It’s all about you guys,” he said. “We’re doing it at a time that the students are there…. We’re going to do everything we can to give them the highest quality event. Because all of us together is what unity is really about.”