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Where the Mission Begins

I’m not from here

I sat in a daze, my mind stuck in the fog that comes after flying halfway across the world.  I was on my way to Tanzania on a mission trip, but I found myself on a layover in Qatar, a small but wealthy country near Dubai.

As I sat there the haze lifted and was replaced by a hollow sense of being oddly out of place.

I was in the Middle East surrounded by people very different from me. Off to the left stood a group of Saudi men dressed in red and white headdresses.   At one time headdresses reminded me of our annual Christmas play.  Today they accompany disturbing images burned into my mind from recent news reports – bombings, uprisings, and passionate debates about radical vs. peaceful forms of Islam.

All around women were dressed in black, some partially covered, others completely covered.  I was used to the differences in Africa, but this stop in Qatar had exposed me to a very different world, one I hadn’t planned on visiting.  I blinked, was I really there? I found a place to sit and pulled my bag in close to me.
A man ahead of me was dressed in a white robe from head to toe with a black tassel hanging low from his carefully draped headdress. He seemed powerful and important, and his eyes seemed unhappy and cold.

A feeling of uneasiness grew in my heart.  I could see this place clearly ran by a different set of rules,
many of which I had probably already broke. What did this man believe about God, the world, and me as an American?  I checked my watch to see when my flight left and then felt regret for the action.  I wasn’t feeling like a good missionary.   But there I was, feeling uneasy, not wanting to look at anyone, and just wishing I could be anywhere but there.

Then it dawned on me.  I could choose the reality in which I would live:  God’s reality or man’s reality.     If I chose man’s reality, the uneasiness would win.  It would cause me to bow to the seriousness in the air.  I would give in to the thinking of “You better be perfect or you are in trouble.”   Man’s reality doesn’t believe one can experience an intimate relationship with God through the death of His Son.  Most in that airport did not understand the depth of the sacrifice He made to rescue us. They didn’t believe it is even possible to get off the tread mill of performing in order to gain God’s acceptance.

But God’s reality says something different!  God’s reality stays this all this is possible.  That I AM loved.   So in that moment I actively choose to live in the reality of my Father.  I sat and rejoiced for no other reason than the fact that He was right there with me.  I felt exhilaration the moment I chose to live in God’s reality.  I suddenly felt like I was wrapped in a warm blanket. Even though I was alone in a place I don’t understand, I was safe, and as a result, I had love to give those around me.

As I reflect on that experience, it occurs to me that I often allow other people’s perception of reality color my thinking. But I’m not from here! My reality is not drawn from the country I’m in at the moment.  It’s not even drawn from my country of origin.  I live by the laws and realities of Heaven!  We’re not from here. We get to be different.  We get to walk around with confidence when others might squirm. We can smile when those around us complain.  We have the ability to love when others would hide!

For me, this is where missions begins.  It starts when I wake up and realize I am an ambassador for a King and hold citizenship in a very good country; a kingdom that is coming and has come. A place and reality I am privileged to carry with me in my heart.

And where I take that Kingdom? That is the adventure!

Sarah Bultman
Writer-The Brinkmann Adventures

Audio Drama Discipline?

These days it seems many Christian kids are seriously into their audio dramas.   I even heard of one parent who punished her child by not letting him listen to his favorite show…. about missionaries!   When she took away his CD for the night he wailed like he’d lost his arm!

A few years ago I had an interesting exchange with one of our daughters.

Me:  “So…. what’s your favorite movie?”
Michaela:  “Jane Eyre……”
“How many times have you watched it?”
“Probably twenty times”
“And what’s your favorite audio drama?”
“The Secret Garden”  (Focus on the Family Radio Theatre)
“How many times have you listened to that?” (She hedged with an embarrassed little smile)
“I don’t know…..”
Just give me a rough estimate…”
“At least….. two hundred times….”

Two Hundred????   And Michaela is a visual learner.  If I had asked her sister Ashley, our auditory kid, I bet audio drama would have scored even higher.   So what gives?  Why twenty views versus two hundred listens?   It’s an interesting question.  As a forty-something year old dad who has been observing his kids consume audio drama for the better part of their lives, I have an idea.  While not exhaustive, here’s my list:

First, they are just flat out fun to listen to.   Some may require a little concentration to get into, but once hooked, you’ll stay on the line until the closing credits.  Next, a good audio drama is like a favorite song – it never grows old.   You can listen over and over.  It also doesn’t become dated by tacky clothes and bad hair.  In fact, sometimes it even gets better with time.   Another big plus is radio drama offers more versatility than video.  One can listen to an episode while driving, working, lying in bed with the lights off or while gathered around the radio with the family.  Finally, audio dramas make us think.  They force us to use and develop our imagination.  We actually become co-producers and co-creators along with the writer, and there is something very attractive about that.  These and other reasons contribute to audio theaters’ current resurgence in popularity.

Here’s an interesting fact:  My daughter’s favorite movie had a budget of $28 million.  Her favorite audio drama had a budget a fraction of that. This is wonderful news!  It means we can create great material at a reasonable cost.  And in fact, more producers are coming to this realization.   I believe we in the midst of an audio drama renaissance of sorts, especially in Christian circles.  Adventures in Odyssey, Jonathan Park, Heirloom Audio Productions, Lamp Lighter Theater and our show Brinkman Adventures are all proof positive.  And with the advent of podcasts, secular producers are also beginning to jump on the bandwagon.  I’m expecting the choice to consumers will only grow in the coming years.

Audio dramas pack a serious teaching punch while remaining hugely entertaining.   As a parent and home educator, if you are not already doing so, take advantage of this form of story telling that stimulates the theater of the mind!  And if your family has yet to discover this wonderful audio world, trust me – your ears, minds and hearts are in for a real treat!  And you also may just discover a creative new tool for discipline!

Ian Bultman
Producer of Brinkman Adventures