Episode 13: The Mystery Ring
The mystery ring is based on a true story.
One day the Brinkman’s Opa received an unexpected phone call. The conversation went something like this:
Caller: “Are you Charles Brinkman”.
Opa: “Um, yes”
Caller: “Did you lose your class ring?”
Caller: “When did you lose your class ring?”
Opa: “about 50 years ago”
Caller: “Where did you lose it?”
Opa: “Green Lake”
Caller: “Where in Green Lake?”
Opa: “The South side near the diving platform”
Caller: “Well Mr. Brinkman, it looks like I have your ring. Can we meet?”
Opa’s gold class ring that was found at the bottom of Green Lake
Opa went out to breakfast with this man and discovered that besides finding lost rings, he also traveled the world delivering airplanes to missionaries. The man also discovered that Opa teaches on Creation vs. Evolution as well as parenting. At the time, this man was teaching a marriage class and asked Opa to speak at his church. Opa spent the next 20 Sundays encouraging parents and families at that church. During this same time the Brinkman team met the missionary called John Benti in episodes 2-4. After hearing his stories and deciding to feature John on the Brinkmans, they changed the ring story, using it to connect the family with John Benti.
Hope Brinkman was actually born during the completion of Season 1. She spent the first three years of her life listening to the first episodes of Season 1. After acting for the first time in Season 2 she triumphantly declared ‘I’m a Brinkman now!’
Susan Brinkman really did miscarry twins at 20 weeks. This was a very sad and difficult time for the family. Their church body surrounded them with love and prayers, and God brought comfort and healing. Today two small figurines covered by wings sit on the family piano and remind the family of the little ones who are already with Jesus.
A reminder of the two babies that are with Jesus
Lemurs really do have stink fights. Watch a home video here:
Read about it here at Duke University
Jack took Michelle on a a father/daughter trip for her high school graduation.
For a portion of the adventure they planned to stay with some friends who had rented a condo in Destin Florida, but arrived a day early.
Jack suggested they sleep in the car rather than impose on their friends. Michelle was not crazy about that idea to put it mildly. That’s when a short man from South America approached their car and told Jack that Jesus loved him. Just like in the episode, this conversation eventually led to an invitation to a top floor penthouse suite in the Palms of Destin where Jack & Michelle spent the night.
This family greatly blessed Jack and Michelle both in word and deed. Not only did they tell them Jesus loved them, they demonstrated this love in a very tangible way. Later, when the Michelle tried to write them, the message bounced back, address non-existent.
Episode 14: Blue Hat, T-Shirt Bible
This image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Attributed: Jakub Halun
The city of Guilin where John and Donna Benti searched for a Christian
John Benti’s stories of the Blue Hat Lady & T-Shirt Bible are two true stories combined into one. The stories were kept as accurate as possible. Minor details were changed so they would fit the audio drama format. The actual versions of these stories as told by the real John can be heard on the DVD ‘What God Has Done’.
A lady with a blue hat really did get the missionaries onto the VIP area of the train station. She was
Chinese but spoke with an English accent. Everyone showed her great respect. The police who threw them out just minutes earlier saluted her when she passed. She brought them to a private coach, and when John went back to thank her, she was gone! The guards denied seeing her. They all claimed to see three missionaries but no woman with a blue hat and blue coat.
On the train the missionaries were also provided free food. The Bentis learned that there was a note in the kitchen instructing the kitchen staff to bring food to their cabin. Furthermore, when the missionaries got off the train without a ticket, (a big no-no in China) the train attendant told them he was aware they had no ticket and this was ok. The missionaries were speechless at what God had done!
One of our actors (the one who played both secretaries in John’s stories) poses here as the Lady with the Blue Hat.
Watch John Benti telling the T-Shirt Bible story. (Rated PG for a quick but graphic description of some persecution in beginning)
John and Donna talk about the ancient writing in China. This is based on actual linguistic research documented in the book ‘God’s Promise to the Chinese’, and ‘The Discovery of Genesis’.
Click here to read an article that examines ancient Chinese characters.
Picture of Chinese symbol of =LARGE BOAT
vessel + eight + mouth (family member) = Ship
dust + (breath of) life + (from God’s) mouth + motion = Creation
tree (of knowledge) + tree (of life) + command (from God) = Forbidden
Lamb + (above) me = Righteousness
Watch as a pastor explains more.
To write the real John Benti, please submit your message using our contact page and it will be forwarded to John.
Episode 15: How Big is Your God Part 1
The Brinkman kids don’t really have chickens, although they do want them. Kitri and Ian even appealed to the city council. Ian addressed the council, but in the end the city rejected the appeal. Ian is thinking about trying again next year.
The real Ian and Kitri are trying hard to get chickens, so far it hasn’t worked.
John’s story about the kindergarden and the church is true. In Hong Kong it is very difficult to find buildings to rent or buy for a church. Because of this the missionaries John was with had almost given up on church planting.
Charles Zender really was a big American businessman, brought in to deal with corruption in the development projects. He didn’t want to go to Hong Kong, but he realized God sent him there to use his influence to help plant churches.
When John entered Charles’ office mumbling about not having enough money for a church, Charles stood up and rebuke John, declaring: “John Benti, How big is your God?!” God used these words to help John trust God and take a step of faith.
John and Donna “Benti”
Michelle asked John if this step of faith was presumptuous since the mission organization didn’t have the money needed for the lease. If God chose not to supply the money, who would end up paying? Wouldn’t John be forced to borrow the money and wouldn’t this discredit God?
This was a good question which we didn’t answer in the episode. Luke 14:28 says “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?” Romans 13:8 says “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” Many great leaders of the past including Hudson Taylor, D.L. Moody & A.B. Simpson refused to borrow money for God’s work. They felt doing so violated God’s principles. They also believed God would pay for the work He wanted accomplished.
High Rise Apartments in Hong Kong Photo Credit: Juriaan (Photocapy)
John believed God wanted him to take this step of faith. If God didn’t provide the funds, John was prepared to re-enter the business world and earn the money himself.
As it turned out, this wasn’t necessary. The day John singed the lease, he attended a Chinese New Years feast and sat next to Dr. Tongue, the pastor of one of the largest churches in Hong Kong. That church had been searching for a location to plant a church and had even considered the very building John had signed for earlier that day. (They never bothered asking because they were told there were already twenty applications submitted) When Dr. Tongue learned John had signed for the building that day he couldn’t believe it! And it got better from there. The man sitting on the other side of John was married to one of the most renown kindergarten teachers in the country. She had just retired and was bored. This man said his wife would probably be happy to run the kindergarten for the church. And he was right! Today this church is thriving in Hong Kong. To God be the glory!!
To write the real John Benti, please submit your message using our contact page and it will be forwarded to John.
Episode 16: How Big is Your God Part 2
There really are air boats that are powered by a big fan. Although Kate and Ian have never ridden in one, one day they hope to.
Licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Attribution: John O’Neill
An airboat on the Florida Everglades
How Big is Your God Pt 2 is based on another experience of John Benti. His ministry team had been searching for locations to plant churches in large high rise condominium complexes. At the first location they were provided a space for a church rent free. While searching for another location their VW Bug broke down in front of an enormous complex. Assuming God wanted a church planted there, John and another missionary entered boldly but were thrown out by the manager who stated that he hated missionaries. John and his team had a prayer meeting and God gave John an idea. He paid a visit to the person over all of the complexes. What John didn’t know was that this person had been led to Christ by John’s parents years earlier, and had recently recommitted her life back to the Lord. John’s visit was an answer to her prayer. God had placed this woman in a position to clear the way for churches in these complexes.
Thousands have been reached because of John’s and Donna’s faith!
When John returned to the manager who had thrown him out, this man’s attitude had completely changed. He asked John to put churches in both of his new developments. And then the manager became a follower of Jesus and a leader in one of the churches.
We made John a little more annoying towards Ms. Lam’s secretaries than in the real story… (but only just a little!)
Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License. Attribution: Alex Senson
Crocodiles like Tami can grow up to 17 feet long in the Florida Everglades
Dale is a fictional character. He was created to help carry the ‘B’ story in How Big Is Your God Pt 1 & 2. Through the B story we wanted to demonstrate that when we share Jesus with people, sometimes they reject the message. Sometimes things don’t go as we hope. Perhaps we didn’t give the perfect presentation, as in Kate’s case. However we need to remember that God uses imperfect people to share the truth of the Gospel. Our job is to prayerful share the Truth when able. The Holy Spirit softens hearts, opens eyes, and draws people to himself. Also, remember that many people need to hear the Gospel a number of times before they actually respond.
John Benti still serves as a missionary. While officially retired, he will probably never really retire. He continues to travel the world serving Jesus and His Kingdom.
Mr. Pennington is a fictional character who shows that even missionaries can have a hard time loving grumpy neighbors. While discussing who should play Mr. Pennington, our producer Jim Reith said he imagined a guy who always yelled when he talked. When he demonstrated to the team what he meant everyone burst into laughter. Jim was instantly casted, and makes the perfect Mr. Pennington.
To write the real John Benti, please submit your message using our contact page and it will be forwarded to John.
Episode 17: Mexico By Bus
John’s story about saving a drowning swimmer’s life was true! He really worked as a life guard. John’s point in telling this story was that missions can be messy, which is a prominent theme running through a number of the episodes in Season 2 of The Brinkman Adventures.
A Milwaukee actor named Chad Phillips played John Benti. Originally John hoped to play himself but scheduling became an issue. When Chad auditioned for the part we were amazed how much he sounded like the real person! Chad’s son Harrison came to the first recording session to watch. At that point Dale’s character had not yet been cast. Someone needed to read Dale’s lines during the recording session. Harrison volunteered to do this and ultimately ended up with the role, making his acting debut on the Brinkman Adventures.
Watch the Brinkman Actors recording a scene from Mexico by Bus.
Jim and the crew on their way to Belize.
The real Brinkman family has never traveled across Mexico in a bus. This episode is based on several trips taken by Pastor Jim & Jenny Duncan as they traveled through Mexico to Belize.
Getting ready to hit the road. Yes, the bus did have chickens on the back!
They experienced God’s hand numerous times along the way, and several of these stories were combined to create this episode. They actually did give impromptu praise concerts, once when detained at the border, and another time when stuck in a trucker strike in Mexico. On both occasions something amazing followed, allowing the missionaries to continue on their journey.
This reminded the Duncans of the story in the Old Testament where God instructed the Levites to march in front of the army and sing praises. Upon their obedience, God won the battle miraculously for King Jehoshaphat. This isn’t to say that every time we praise God we see the opposing army flee. However it is clear that as with prayer, God responds to our praise, and sometimes in surprising fashion! As Believers we should make it a practice to praise the Lord throughout our day.
Twice when stuck the boys did an impromptu praise service. Once while stuck at the Mexican border, and once when stuck in the trucker strike. Both times God opened the way for them.
In the real story, on the way through Mexico the Duncans bus had a flat tire. Because they had run out of Pesos they used chickens to pay the man who helped them.
The story about ripchord and the innkeeper chasing the Brinkmans never happened. This is something created to add a little fun and drama to the episode. These elements also play into the Brinkmans odd fascination with chickens.
Episode 18: Treehouse Academy
This episode opens with the Brinkmans just barely making it in time to give a concert in Pastor Jim’s new outdoor amphitheater. In real life Pastor Jim traveled across Mexico to give a concert in Belize. As in the episode, their team experienced some set-backs and barely made it in time. The outdoor amphitheater in our story has not yet been built. Pastor Jim hopes to one day see this dream realized.
Little did Pastor Jim and Jenny know, these bus trips would change their lives forever.
While in Belize, they both felt called to return as full time missionaries and have been serving there for the last twelve years.
Pastor Jim plays himself in these episodes. Ian Bultman traveled to Belize with a portable studio and recorded Pastor Jim and a number of other people. Some of the students from the school play the role of the boys in the Sapphire Slaves story. You can hear them in episodes 8 & 9.
In the beginning of this episode a young boy decides to follow Jesus. This boy is based on a real person who accepted Jesus through the ministry of the Duncans.
The treehouse is actually a two level building built in and around a large tree. This is where the students have devotions every morning.
Pastor Jim and Jenny really do run a radio station called Destiny Belize. They also run a small store, a church and the Treehouse Academy. Additionally, Pastor Jim drives a school bus to pick up students who can’t walk to school. Pastor Jim & Jenny have many responsibilities!
In this episode the Brinkmans purchased the school’s curriculum. The actual story of how God provided the curriculum is truly miraculous. We weren’t able to tell it due to time constraints, so we changed it to include the Brinkman family in the story.
The boys in line, waiting to head over to the classroom building.
The radio tower stands right in the middle of the Duncan’s property.
In the story, Ian Brinkman climbed this tower and it fell over. In real life it did fall over once, but thankfully nobody was climbing it!
They Duncans really do have a pet monkey named Chika and it really did steal Ian’s candy bar!
Chika likes having her back scratched!
There really were rat bats behind the shower! In fact the sounds heard in this episode are from those actual bats.
Before writing Mexico by Bus, Treehouse Academy & Pirates of Mayan Island, Ian and Aunt Sarah travelled to Belize to visit the school. They had an amazing adventure, and these three episodes are based on their experiences along with the true stories from Pastor Jim & Jenny’s life.
Jenny with her sweet smile in front of the store
There actually was a possum in the banana bowl and bugs on the floor! The struggles that Susan and Gracie faced in this episode were actually experienced by Ian while visiting the school in Belize for the first time. Being surpised by different things is not unusual for people from North America when traveling to different places in the world. The fear of a new environment is common for new missionaries and is something the Lord delights in helping his servants overcome.
When Ian and Sarah were visiting they heard a strange noise in the fruit and veggie crate… it was a baby possum! This little guy startled them at first, but soon they got used to him waddling around.
Pastor Jim and many from the school really did traveled to the capital to appeal to the minister of education. They asked him to allow the school to stay open. After listening to their appeal, the man revoked the order for them to close.
The school really does have horses, and is located on an ancient Mayan site. The kids get to learn how to care for the animals and learn about their history. There really is a crocodile living under a tree on the other side of this pond, and yes, there are white birds in the tree.
In spite of a successful appeal, the school has faced continued government resistance. Still, God has allowed the Treehouse Academy to remain open, serving the people of their community. The Duncans would appreciated continued prayer that God would allow the school to remain and that He would provide for the needs of the school and it’s workers. Meanwhile, the Duncans are still waiting for the government to grant them a perminant license. You can join them in praying this will happen soon.
Episode 19: Pirates of Mayan Island
This episode is based on one of Ian & (Aunt) Sarah’s adventures while in Belize. One day Pastor Jim rented a boat, hired a guide and took them to a private island owned by a neighbor.
Pastor Jim waited in the water as Ian and Aunt Sarah went spear fishing on the reef near the island
This island really had been inhabited by a pirate or a group of pirates many years earlier. They abandoned their ship which had been moored at the island. The sea claimed the boat many years ago.
Johnny, owner of Mayan Island
Large cannons from the ship were discovered in the surf near the island. These canons are now on display in Belize City. Other artifacts have also been discovered on the shore including pirate bottles and an old flint pistol.
Ian examining one of the cannons in Belize City
Unbeknownst to Ian & Sarah, there was also a Mayan structure in the center of the island. Pastor Jim led them on an excursion through a mangrove swamp to visit the site.
It was a very hot and difficult two mile hike to the site. On the way back the mud sucked the sole right off Ian’s boot!
As in the episode, they discovered a cement structure on top of the structure. They also found a hole in the side, probably dug by people looking for artifacts. Inside and around the structure the group observed pottery and ancient Mayan artifacts.
Inside the cave the ground was spungy and bats flew around their heads
The group had brought along a metal detector. Pastor Jim urged Ian to use it on top of the mound. The metal detector began beeping loudly, indicating a strong target. Imagine their excitement when Ian’s shovel hit a metal object. As he began digging, it looked as if they had found Spanish helmet. Once removed from the hole, they realized it was a bronze pitcher. But their excitement turned to laughter when Ian noticed a Brinkman Adventure CD taped to the bottom of the pitcher. Pastor Jim had sent out one of his workers days earlier to plant the CD as a prank!
Pastor Jim is a trickster!
The portions of the story about Blackbeard, the obsidian mirror, and Dr. Harrison Smith were created to add some fun and drama to this episode.
Edward Teach was Blackbeard the Pirate. He really did sail the waters of Belize. Attribution: Public Domain
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. File Attribution: Simon Burchell
The Incas and Mayans really did make obsidian mirrors although Ian and Aunt Sarah didn’t find one that day.
While Damacio isn’t Blackbeard’s great great great great grandson, he is a real person who is part Mayan. He played himself in episodes 6 & 7. And yes, he really is an interesting character!
Ian and Damacio helping fix Pastor Jim’s truck
In this episode Isaac talks to Damacio about treasures on earth not lasting or bringing real happiness. Isaac was right! Many people spend their whole lives trying to get rich. However riches never bring fullfillment. Only God can bring true fulfillment.
Episode 20: Sapphire Slaves Part 1
Sapphire slaves is based on the work done by a ministry called International Justice Mission or IJM for short. To protect operations currently underway we created a fictitious organization called MJM which conducts a fictitious scenario in our story. The techniques used in our episodes are similar to those used by IJM and other Christian organizations involved in the freeing slaves.
Gary Haugen, President and CEO of IJM
Visit IJM’s website here: www.ijm.org
We had several reasons for creating these two episodes. First we wanted to show that slavery still exists in the world, and there are Christian organizations doing something about it.
IJM has freed many slaves including this group of people who were enslaved at a Brick Kiln.
We also wanted to contrast a positive hard work ethic (as seen in Ian & the bees), with the abuse of hard work (as seen in Sr. Viego’s illiegal Sapphire mine). The Brinkman kids were (and still are) expected to help around the house as members of the family unit. While not always fun, helping around the house is good. It helps the family unit function while giving Jack & Susan the opportunity to teach their children how to run a home. One day, Lord willing, the kids will take care of their own homes. On the other hand, the hard work seen in the mine was wrong. Sr. Viego was forcing the kids to work for his own profit which was both unjust and abusive.
Episode 21: Sapphire Slaves Part 2
The Sapphire Slave episodes touched on unfairness and injustice. We’d like to briefly explore the differences between these two words.
This story was inspired by the lives of boys working in a tanzinite mine.
We hear the word ‘fairness’ used often in our culture. New laws are being created to assure fairness. We also hear the word used within our families. In this episode Kitri says it’s not fair that Ian gets the camera she wanted. She doesn’t think it’s fair when he gets to stay up later than she did at his age. She says it’s unfair that she has to do the dishes while he gets to go help with the bees. By claiming unfairness, Kitri is actually accusing her parents (and God) of treating her siblings differently than her (and better in her opinion). Is she right? She is correct that she is being treated differently. But her mistake is in assuming this is wrong. She is, in fact, wrong in accusing God for treating her unfairly. It’s very possible she’s also wrong in accusing her parents.
Watch the story of the tanzinite mine and see how these boys are being helped here.
Kids are different and because of this parents need treat their kids differently, as individuals. While parents aren’t perfect, usually their intent in treating their kids differently is for their own good. God also treats each of us differently. In the Bible we see how God gives one person a single talent or gift, and another two talents or gifts. While this isn’t equal or ‘fair’, the Bible doesn’t say that it is wrong. The Bible says God appoints us to the places and times we live. That means God determines one person is to be born in a wealthy home, and another is to be born in a poor home. Is this wrong? It can’t be for God doesn’t sin. He allows one person to be born strong, and another smart. It’s not equal or ‘fair’, but it’s also not wrong. God in his wisdom determines this.
Sapphires are beautiful blue gem stones. Photo Credit: Public Domain
On the other hand it is wrong to kidnap a child and force him to work in a mine. This violates God’s law in Exodus 21:16 and James 5:4 where He makes it clear that kidnapping and exploiting laborers is wrong. What Sr. Viego did to the boys was sinful and abusive.
Keep these differences in mind the next time you think you are being treated unfairly.
There is more to be said on this issue. Talk to your parents about the differences between something being unfair and something being unjust.
Ian really did take care of bees with his youth pastor. Recently they started a business and are selling their honey. This year they harvested 70 pounds of honey and are selling it to friends using the name Incredibee Honey.
Pedro, Carlos, Henry and Fernando were all recorded in Belize. The actors are students in the Treehouse Academy. The boys who played Carlos and Fernando are really brothers. We hear Fernando’s mother in his dream. That woman was the boys’ real mother who works at their school.
Episode 22: Hadi’s Choice
This episode is based on true events, although the names of the people and locations have been changed to protect those involved.
Bazakistan is not a real country, we made it up to protect the real people in this episode.
There are many places in the world where choosing to follow Jesus could mean being disowned by one’s parents, loosing one’s job, or even being killed. You might think this would prevent the church from growing. The amazing thing is that in many cases the church is strengthened and refined through the very persecution meant to destroy it.
Episode 23: Castle of Secrets
This episode is based on true events and fictional elements thrown in for fun. In reality only Jack & Kate’s characters traveled to France to serve at the retreat for the missionaries.
Mr. Annoyman was inspired by real events. Jim Reith (producer of Brinkmans) and Jack’s character (Ian) flew to Boise ID to meet with sound designer Rob Jorgenson. On the way home during the night they sat across from a passenger much like Mr. Annoyman.
This retreat really occurred in a castle once owned by the Schweitzer family. Today the castle is run by a non-profit which provides a location for other ministries hold retreats and seminars. You can visit their website here: www.chateaustalbain.com/en/
The Castle where missionary retreats are held
Albert Schweitzer toured Europe playing Bach on pipe organs. Later in life he started a hospital in Africa. It is obvious that Jesus and the Gospel had a huge impact on Albert. However we believe some of his views on Jesus were misguided. While we don’t accept these ideas, we do admire his dedication to Jesus and the way he gave his life to serving others in the name of Christ.
The castle does really date back to Charles the Bald, grandson of Charlemagne.
Charles the Bald lived from 823-877 AD | Photo Credit: Public Domain
Jean-Paul Sartre really lived in the castle. Jean-Paul Sartre did light his grandfathers rug on fire and he did shake his fist at God. To help move the story along we invented the hidden diary and piano code. Aunt Sarah and Kate’s character came up with the elaborate piano code one night. (And it really works!)
John Paul Sartre 1905-1980 | Photo Credit: Public Domain
In real life the King family was unable to attend the retreat. After the retreat Jack & Kate’s characters traveled to the south of France to interviewed them for Hadi’s Choice and On the Run.
Many of the sound effects heard in the castle are taken from the actual castle. During the retreat there was a wind storm and we recorded this storm from the castle attic, capturing some amazing audio. (We hope you agree!)
The view from the castle turret
Jack and Kate really explored the attic. While they didn’t find a diary, they did find a chest containing human bones! Later they learned that the former owners of the castle had unearthed them while digging a trench on the castle grounds.
The singing heard in the episode is from the actual retreat. If you listen closely, you might even be able to hear Kate, Jack & Pastor Tim’s characters singing!
Some of the missionaries at the retreat enjoying lunch together
Pastor Tim played himself and really does serve as the Brinkmans’ pastor at their home church.
Episode 24: On the Run
Like Hadi’s Choice, this episode is based on true events from the lives of the King family, and was told as accurately as possible. We just had to take out some details as the real story was so complex, and would have taken too long to tell fully.
Kate’s song was written and performed by her character. She really did write it when Susan was pregnant. The full song is included as a bonus track for those who download Season 2.
Kate singing in France
The idea of the Kings telling the story around the castle fireplace is based on a real event. One night when Jack & Kate’s characters were in France at the retreat, they sat around the fire place listening to missionaries tell stories as the storm raged outside.
The castle really does have a movie theater in what used to be the dungeon.
The Kings are a real family whose names we have changed to protect their identity. Like many missionaries they have served in places where it is dangerous to live and share the Gospel.
God continues to use the King family in their new assignment. Ask the Lord to bless their ministry and help them to effectively lead lost people to Christ.
To write the real King family, please submit your message using our contact page and it will be forwarded to the Kings.