Episode 37: A Paradise Lost
The Real Story
A Found Balloon
It was with a cloudy heart that Ian Bultman went on a walk to talk to God about what was troubling him. He had been sure that God led him to the place where he was serving. But everything seemed to be going wrong and he wanted to quit. Maybe God hadn’t led him there after all. If something didn’t change, Ian didn’t know how much longer he could go on. So he went to one of his favorite spots, a secluded portion of the Lake Michigan shoreline. He walked along the beach praying, kicking at stones, and picking up bits of beach glass. As he cried out to God, he stepped over something red in the sand. He walked past it, but had an odd feeling that he needed to go back and pick it up. He turned around and as he stooped down, he realized it was a deflated balloon. He picked up the red piece of rubber that the sun had partially melted over the beach pebbles. As he pulled the small stones off he noticed something written on it. He stretched out the tattered balloon and couldn’t believe what he saw.
He found a deflated balloon with writing on it
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6,7 At that moment Ian knew that no matter what happened, things would be OK. He knew his Heavenly Father was aware of the problem and had the solution. Immediately the peace that passes understanding flooded Ian’s heart. With thanksgiving he made his request to God, praying ‘Lord, thank you for your faithfulness in the past. Please help me through this current problem.’ Ian went back and faced the struggle, this time entrusting it more fully to God. Later that year, the situation turned around, and the place where he served became not only his home and spiritual family, but also eventually the birthplace for the Brinkman Adventures.
The Reunion Disaster Ian Bultman is the oldest of 11 children. As they grew up, their mother (Oma in the Brinkmans) often read them missionary stories. They listened as they folded the laundry and soon began to see the immense love God has for the lost all over the world. The Bultman kids now have children of their own and they live all around the United States. One summer they decided to have a reunion, so everyone met in Kentucky along with Oma & Opa. This episode used many elements from that Bultman family reunion.
The Crazy Kentucky Reunion
During the reunion, Aunt Sarah and Ian proposed a way to help the grandchildren learn more about missions. Everyone thought it was a great idea.
Oma and Opa Bultman
The grand children broke into teams and played games. Even though it was hot, the first day went really well. They completed a blind trust walk carrying water on their heads, and had to catch and clean fish, and cook them over a fire…. and eat them.
Everyone went to bed looking forward to the next day, which would include a treasure hunt, charades, translation, and smuggling the translated Bible past the “guards” to a secret location.
Oma greeting her grandkids at the door in Dutch.
The following day started out hot, and the children enjoyed the other challenges including one similar to the translating scene with Oma that we recreated in the episode A Paradise Lost. That afternoon the air shifted. As the group began the Bible smuggling game they noticed thunder rumbling in the distance. They decided a distant storm would make the smuggling even more exciting. As the kids ran into the woods and began making their way to the secret drop off locations, their uncles grabbed flashlights and jumped in their cars to see if they could catch them. Before long it began to pour rain and the thunder and lightning was no longer distant, but rather crashing all around them! The children thought it was loads of fun, but the parents were getting worried. Ian and Aunt Sarah said, “Ok, we had better get them all back.”
Finally, as the lightening got close the older children led their teams to safety.
But as the parents searched and called, the kids continued to run and hide, thinking it was all part of the game. It wasn’t until the lightening began striking very close that the older children decided they should lead their teams to safety. They came out of hiding and the “guards” became their rescuers, grabbing up the soaked kids as they emerged from the woods. As they gathered the last stragglers, they learned from the park ranger that a tornado warning had been issued for their location. Everyone needed to get into the storm shelter immediately! Wet and soggy they filled the storm shelter along with other people camping in the park. They pulled blankets around them to keep warm. Minutes turned into hours as they played games, sang, and ended up falling asleep all over the floor.
Waiting in the shelter for the tornado warning to be over.
Finally, when the storm had passed, everyone headed back to his or her tents, campers and cabins; exhausted and grateful that everyone was safe. Although they were never able to finish their game, everyone agreed it was the most memorable family reunion ever! The kids not only had fun experiencing a taste of what missionaries go through, but they also got a sense of the danger and fear that is sometimes involved. This episode is also based on Ian and Amy Bultman’s yearly trip to a family camp in Wisconsin. While Mrs. Bultman was pregnant several different years at the family camp, she never went into labor at camp. The family does play the ‘build-a-story’ game every year one of their nights at the camp. You hear the Brinkmans playing this the first night in their cabin in the episode A Paradise Lost.
Making It Work
As writers we liked the idea of a mission focused family camp, and we decided to use this episode to show that often our carefully laid plans can be completely overturned. Even in situations like that, God is present, and will use those times to teach us to trust Him. There was a dam at the campsite, but thankfully it didn’t break. The breaking dam was based on what happened to Lake Delton. Click here to read more.
On June 9, 2008, a dam on Lake Delton in Wisconsin gave way under pressure from heavy rain and drained the man- made lake, leaving only small pools until the dam was repaired and the lake refilled in 2009.
You can read more about it here.
Watch as whole houses are washed away after the lake Delton damn broke.
Here is an amazing video of a dam being purposefully broken and a time lapse of what it looks like when a lake drains.
Although the Brinkmans have never hosted a Missionary Adventure camp, they hope to one day. Until then you can find other great camps that focus on missions. Here’s one on Lake Michigan your family will love: Maranatha Camp.
Episode 38: Remember Nhu
The Real Story
This is Nhu (Pictures taken from remembernhu.com)
The story of Remember Nhu is based on the true story of Carl Ralston finding Nhu and starting safe houses for other girls like her. We had to change a few elements of this story to make it appropriate for our younger listeners, so please get your parents’ permission before searching more about Nhu’s story on the internet.
Carl really did hear about Nhu as portrayed in the episode. He had been seeking God for direction, but God had seemed “silent” for nearly a year. Carl saw the picture of Nhu and marveled that they loved the same God. And when he was told that she had been sold into slavery, Carl was shocked. In that moment God spoke to Carl’s heart and said, “Remember Nhu.” At first Carl didn’t know what God meant by ”Remember Nhu”. But after talking with his wife he decided to go to Cambodia and try to find her. Carl really did go up and down the river with Nhu’s picture, asking if people knew her. He did have someone trying to help him find her, but it wasn’t Nhu’s uncle. It took multiple trips back and forth to Cambodia before Carl finally found her. In between his trips Carl researched how to set up a home for other girls like Nhu. The scene you hear in Remember Nhu when a motorcycle crashed into Carl’s car is also true. The man really did just get up and walk away. Carl and Nhu’s first meeting occurred very closely to how you hear it portrayed in the episode. She didn’t really like Carl when she met him, and she didn’t trust him. But over the next few months Nhu had time to consider Carl’s offer. When he returned a second time and told her about the house he was opening for girls, he again offered to help secure her freedom and allow her to serve at the home. This time Nhu had only had one question for him: “When can I start?”
Laura Ralston, Nhu and Carl Ralston
Since then Nhu has been living at the Nhu house and has been helping other girls who are at risk of being sold as slaves. The first day when Nhu was sold by her grandma was terrible. She told God, “If you rescue me from this, I want to use my life to help other girls never to have to go through this.” The Lord heard her prayer and spoke to Carl’s heart in such a strong way that he couldn’t rest until he found her and had a place for her to live and work as a free woman.
Girls at a Nhu house
Making it Work
Nhu’s uncle didn’t really help Carl find her, but Carl did wish he could have freed her right away. Later he realized God used that time to teach him how to set up the safe house that Nhu and the other girls would live in. Also, it is possible that Nhu may not have wanted to leave her circumstance when Carl first came to Cambodia. But by the time of their meeting she was ready. God’s timing was perfect! You can find out more about Remember Nhu at Remembernhu.org. Please visit this site with your parents.
Episode 39: Aisha’s Fear
The Real Story Mahad hated the western medical missionaries. He spitefully built his small mosque and shop alongside the wall of their hospital that had been treating people there for thirty years. Mahad felt that they were poisoning his people with their lies. He would stand in the door of his shop and stir up the crowds, raging against the missionaries and accusing them of whatever evil that came to his mind.
People who convert to Christianity in Muslim countries often experience severe persecution. Photo credit:Unsplash
Later Mahad contracted an incurable cancer. His neighbors and former customers thought he was contagious, and stopped coming to his shop. The Christian medical staff across the street heard about his condition and decided they would buy their groceries at Mahad and Aisha’s shop. They would regularly come in and ask about his health and let him know they were praying for Mahad. This confounded the man, who for so many years had spewed out hateful accusations towards them. As time went on, his heart was softened by the love shown him, and he gradually began to listen to the Gospel. His young wife Aisha, watched as they continued to care for him, even washing his body as the end drew near. Just before he passed away, he and Aisha both made a decision to become followers of Jesus.
Mission Hospitals demonstrate the love of Jesus in closed countries.
After her husband passed away Aisha began telling her friends and family about Jesus. Some listened, but others warned her that she must not talk that way. Aisha didn’t stop, and finally the authorities took notice. She was arrested and threatened with every punishment imaginable. Instead of putting her in a regular jail cell they threw her in the dark, dank unfinished cellar of the police station. There was no light, and rats, spiders, and bugs scurried around her in the dark. Aisha was terrified and at the point of giving up, she opened her mouth to scream. But instead of a protest to God, out of her soul came a song of praise! She was surprised and strengthened by the sound of her own voice. She was also overwhelmed by a sense of God’s presence beside her and within her. As she began to praise Him with even more strength and joy, the officers above her grew strangely silent. Later that night the chief of police, himself, opened the trapdoor of the cellar and pulled her out. He told her, “I am going to release you.” Aisha thought it was a trap and suspected he wanted to get her into more trouble. When she reminded him that women were not allowed on the streets after dark, he said, “No, I will personally escort you home.” Then he said, “I don’t understand. My wife and daughters are afraid of everything. But you are not afraid of anything. I will let you go on this one condition, that in three days you will come to my home and tell my whole family why you are not afraid. And I want you to sing that song.” Aisha did just that. As time went on she continued to share her faith, and became one of the most effective evangelists in the area. God took a young widow who was timid and full of fear, and changed her. She became His messenger to the very people she was once afraid of. You can read the full story of Mahad and Aisha in Nik Ripken’s book “The Insanity of God” page 293
Making it Work
Mahad actually had several wives and children. In episode #38 Aisha’s Fear we focused only on Aisha and Mahad’s relationship and stories. We also added a fictional friend Bashera so Aisha could talk to someone, allowing us to hear her thoughts.
Like salmon, sturgeons return to the river where they were born to spawn. Photo credit: Public Domain
It is true that Sturgeons almost became non-existent in Lake Michigan. In the early 1800s, there were millions of them, but fisherman began to slaughter them because their bony plates ruined their commercial fishing gear. Then in the mid-1800s, sturgeons became prized for their eggs, which were used to make caviar. Over-fishing, along with dam construction, habitat loss, water pollution, and slow maturity rates, caused sturgeon populations to plummet. (Sturgeons cannot spawn until they are 15 or 20 years old, and can live up to 100 years!)
In 2003 the Wisconsin DNR began a breeding program to restock Lake Michigan. You can read more here. Like salmon, sturgeons return to the river where they were born to spawn. Watch this video to see some of the biggest white sturgeons ever caught. (A different species from those found in Lake Michigan)
Sturgeons were once killed because of the bony plates on their backs Photo credit: Public Domain
Episode 40: Heart Song
The Real Story Dmitri Arrested Dmitri lived in a small village in Russia. He was raised in a Christian home and when he was young often went to church with his parents. But over the years, communism slowly destroyed the churches, and many pastors were imprisoned or killed. Dmitri realized his sons were growing up without learning about Jesus whom he loved.
A wooden Russian church
So he decided that one night a week he would read the Bible with his family and try to explain what it meant. His wife was overjoyed and told him she had been praying he would do this for years. As the family gathered and studied the Bible, they also began to sing some of the old songs they used to sing in church, including Dmitri’s heart song, a well known Russian hymn. Soon neighbors caught wind of what was going on. They too wanted to sing those songs and study the Bible. Soon Dmitri’s tiny house was filled with 25 extra people every week. The authorities could not ignore what was happening.
A Rural Russian village
One night while they were meeting, a police officer came and threatened Dmitri with violence. He accused Dmitri of running an illegal church. “This isn’t a church!” said Dmitri! “I have no religious training, and this is not a church building.” The officer didn’t care. “It looks like church to me,” he said, “If you don’t stop meeting, bad things are going to happen.” When the group reached 50 people the authorities made good on their threats. Dmitri was fired from his factory job, his wife lost her teaching job, and their son was expelled from school. When the group reached 75, the villagers could barely squeeze in. Outside faces pressed up to the windows, straining to hear from the Word of God. The authorities made good on their promise. They burst into the house and pushed their way through the crowd. Slapping and throwing Dmitri against the wall. They told him, “We warned you and warned you. We will not warn you again. If you meet one more time this is the least that is going to happen to you.” Just then an old woman stepped out from the crowd. She pointed her finger at the officer who pushed Dmitri. Sounding like a prophet from the Old Testament, she said, “You have touched the man of God and you will not survive.” That was Tuesday night. The following Thursday the police officer had a heart attack and died. The fear of God swept through the community, and at the next meeting one hundred and fifty people showed up. Outraged, the police finally carried out their threats and threw Dmitri in prison. He stayed there for 17 years.
Dmitri was in prison for 17 years
Two Disciplines Dmitri was the only Christian surrounded by 1,500 hardened criminals and was tortured regularly. But the hardest thing for him was separation from the body of Christ. When Nik Ripken visited Dmitri to hear his story, Dmitri sat Nik down on the little stool Dmitri would teach from. As Nik heard the story, he asked how Dmitri had stayed faithful to the Lord during all those years. Dmitri told him of two disciplines he learned from his father. He said without those two disciples his faith would not have survived. First, he rose every morning at dawn and stood at attention beside his bed. As the sun rose he would face east, raise his hands in praise to God, and sing what he called his ‘heart song’. The other prisoners didn’t like it and would yell at him, mock him, and throw things at him to try to make him stop. Every morning, year after year, he would sing one of two songs. The song you hear in the episode is one of those songs. Second, whenever he found a little scrap of paper he would write on it as many verses or songs as possible. Then he would stick it to the wall in his cell. The guards would eventually find this paper and tear it down, beating him terribly and threatening him with death. But Dmitri never stopped. Dmitri Breaks Determined to make Dmitri give up his faith, the guards broke into his house and stole his wife’s clothes. Then they marched a female prisoner past his cell, telling him it was his wife. Next they killed her and told him it was his fault. Furthermore, they lied saying Dmitri’s sons were now wards of the State. When Dmitri heard this he broke. He told his guards that he would sign the confession stating he didn’t believe in Jesus anymore. He felt awful but thought he needed to do this in order to save his boys. The guards were triumphant, and told him the next day they would have the paper ready. God Intervenes That night, drowning in grief, Dmitri was crushed. Not only did he believe his wife was killed, but he also realized that he had denied Jesus. As he wept, many miles away Dmitri’s wife, sons and brother sensed something was wrong. They came together that night and asked God to help Dmitri stand strong. Miraculously God allowed Dmitri to hear the voices of his loved ones as they prayed. Shocked, he realized God was showing him that they were alive, and they were still following Jesus. He also realized that even after denying him like Peter the apostle did, Jesus had shown him mercy. That night Dmitri experienced the love and forgiveness of his Savior in a new way. The Prison Sings The next morning when the guards came with the document, Dmitri sat with shoulders straight and strength in his eyes, he refused to sign. Confused, they asked him why he changed his mind. “You lied to me! He said, “I know that my wife is alive, and my children are with her. I also know they are still following Christ! I am not signing anything!” A little while later Dmitri was delighted to find a whole sheet of paper on the ground with a pencil right next to it. “God put it there for me,” he told Nik. He rushed back to his cell and wrote out as many verses and songs he could fit on the paper. He knew it was foolish but he couldn’t help it. He wanted to offer Jesus the biggest love offering he could. When the guards found the paper, they were furious and beat him and threatened to execute him. As they dragged him from his cell through the corridor to the center of the prison, the strangest thing happened. Suddenly 1,500 men stood up next to their beds. They raised their arms to heaven and began to sing. The song they had heard every morning for 17 years now echoed out from every cell. Dmitri said it sounded like the most glorious choir in all of human history. Immediately, the guards let go of him and stepped away in terror. One of them asked, “Who are you?!” Dmitri stood as tall and as proud as he could and said, “I am a son of the living God, and Jesus is His name!” The guards immediately put him back in his cell and left him. Not long afterwards he was released, and found his way back home where he was reunited with his family. Nik Ripken was stunned as he sat in Dmitri’s tiny house, on the very chair that the police had taken Dmitri from so many years earlier. Nik had been struggling with his faith and trying to figure out how people can stay faithful in the midst of persecution. In The Insanity of God, Nik writes “Dmitri became one of my first guides on my journey. I began to sense that this journey was not about developing discipleship materials, but about walking with Jesus in hard places. I felt drawn to this life that Dmitri had lived: knowing Jesus, loving Jesus, following Jesus, living with Jesus.” You can read Dmitri’s full story in Nik Ripken’s book “The Insanity of God” page 151.
Making it Work
To record the Heart song, first we obtained a recording from Todd Smith (member of Selah) & Nik Ripken. This allowed us to hear the melody. Jim Reith and Ian Bultman translated the song from Russian. Then they hired a Russian man to sing the song in English. Thirteen men later gathered at Ian & Jim’s church. They studied the Russian singer’s dialect, and then sang the song 13 different times. First they all sang in front of the microphone. Then they moved all around the sanctuary finishing up by singing from the balcony. Jim combined all the recordings and it sounded like hundreds of Russian prisoners singing. While Dmitri had more than one son, we had only one son for our story to make it easier to follow.
Episode 41: The Crashed Kitchen
The Real Story The Crashed Kitchen A year after her first visit to Zambia (which you can hear about in Season 1), Aunt Sarah returned and worked with Love’s Door for All Nations, a mission based in Livingstone and run by Dan and Regina Bumstead.
Dan (center back row) Mike (right back row) Regina (center) Aunt Sarah (front right)
The crashed kitchen happened when Dan and Regina were in the States on furlough. Aunt Sarah wasn’t alone, but was actually working with eight other team members to set up a children’s home while conducting Bible studies. She had grown exhausted by the time of the crash. That day she stayed at the home base while the team drove the 40 minutes out to the village. In the late afternoon Missy called her frantically saying, “Sarah, we were trying to teach Mike how to drive, and somehow he pushed the wrong pedal and smashed right through Freddy’s kitchen!” (Freddy was the gardener of the village base and was also attending their Bible study).
Aunt Sarah and a village kitchen
All the missionaries and villagers sitting in the truck were a little banged up, but Loveness (Katana) suffered a large gash in her arm clear to the bone. In Zambia, village kitchens are built as separate huts off the main home. Freddy’s family normally sat next to this kitchen. Thankfully on the day of the crash they were somewhere else. As soon as the team crashed through the kitchen, Freddy’s neighbors surrounded the scene of the accident shouting and yelling. The team feared retaliation by the villagers, and was forced to protect Mike from one man who tried to beat him up. They called Aunt Sarah and asked her to pick them up because their truck was damaged in the crash. They took Katana to the hospital for stitches and then returned home in shock. They feared the people would no longer want them in their village nor would listen to the Gospel. Mike the driver felt especially bad. Already tired herself, Aunt Sarah looked at the discouraged team and didn’t know how to help them. She thought of Loveness who had been injured. She thought of Freddy’s destroyed kitchen, and the angry villagers. Just then her phone rang. The person on the other end was full of emotion. It was Freddy! He said, “Sarah! Today the Devil wanted to kill my wife and my children, but God protected them! The Devil also wants you all to leave and stop working in our village. But God wants you here! He protected my family, and I’m going to stay up all night and pray that He protects you too! I’m going to pray that you don’t get discouraged and that you don’t leave.”
Freddy, the man whose kitchen was crashed
This kindness and selflessness overwhelmed Aunt Sarah. How could this man, whose kitchen her team had just ruined, and whose family could have been killed, stay up all night praying for them? She told everybody about the phone call, and then went to prepare a room for Loveness. As Aunt Sarah put the sheets on a bed for Loveness, she complained to God about her tiredness. She told Him that she didn’t think she could be a good host to poor hurting Loveness. Just then God put a tiny thought in her heart. “Wash Loveness’ feet.” She felt a new love enter her heart as she washed and dried Loveness’ feet. Then Loveness looked at her and said, “Sarah, I want to wash your feet too.”
Loveness showing her stiches
This girl whose arm was hurting so badly actually wanted to wash her feet? This amazed Aunt Sarah! As Loveness laughed at Aunt Sarah’s bright white feet, she felt as if Jesus Himself was washing her feet, touching her deeply and filling her with new strength. The team went back into the village and quickly repaired Freddy’s kitchen. Aunt Sarah never forgot the love shown her by Freddie and Loveness…. two people who had every right to be upset.
Benedicto Freed The healing of Benedicto occurred around the same time as the crashed kitchen. Aunt Sarah had known Benedicto’s son from kids’ club, but she didn’t realize the seriousness of Benedicto’s illness. One day, Mike and Ken approached Aunt Sarah as she finished kids’ club. “There is a man who we must pray for! “ they said. “His name is Benedicto, and if God doesn’t intervene soon, he will die.”
They walked to his house praying all the way, and found Benedicto slumped down in a chair in his little hut. Aunt Sarah had never before seen a man so badly broken. He looked completely crushed, hopeless, and scared. They asked him what had happened, and he said: “A while ago I started having terrible dreams. They were so evil, and got worse and worse. Then my legs started going numb and it was hard to walk. I spent lots of money on witch doctors but their charms didn’t work. I even went to the doctors in town, but no one could help me. Then voices in my head started telling me to kill myself. I went out to the bush, but I couldn’t go through with it. I have been giving all my things away because I know I will die soon. I can no longer walk and I haven’t eaten for 3 days.”
Mike and Ken told Benedicto about Jesus and how the enemy had power over him. They explained that if he accepted Jesus as his Savior, Jesus would free him from sin and Benedicto would belong to God, who is stronger than the enemy. Benedicto prayed just like you hear in the episode and gave his life to Jesus. Afterwards, he was so hungry that he ate three bananas! Then he got up and began gathering all the little bags and trinkets from the witch doctors. Everyone went outside and helped burn the charms. While the charms burned, Aunt Sarah, Mike, and Ken sang the song you hear in the episode, “There is power in the name of Jesus.” Then they went back into Benedicto’s house and prayed over him and his two sons. As they prayed, Aunt Sarah looked up and saw tears streaming down Benedicto’s face. Zambian men from the village rarely cry, but he was so overcome by the love and power of Jesus that he could not help himself.
Benedicto and friend
The next week when they came back to check on Benedicto, his wife was sitting there with beaming eyes. She said, “My husband is back! He carries on a normal conversation like before. And he can walk again! Today he is out looking for work!” God brought Benedicto from death to life! This was the first breakthrough for Aunt Sarah in the villages, and served as a sign to all the villagers that Jesus is real and is more powerful than the Enemy. As in the episode, the kids stopped coming to kids’ club because their mothers thought Aunt Sarah was teaching them lies. It is also true that the goats destroyed their garden and one of those goats died after a snake bit it in the head.
Making It Work
In the real story Aunt Sarah was one of many on the team. To simplify the story we had her there alone and brought the character Raymond back, playing Mike & Ken’s part in the story. While not actually in this story, Raymond still lives and ministers in South Africa. Michelle and Kate did not actually visit Aunt Sarah in Africa.
Episode 42: Crisis in the Congo
The Real Story Glen and his wife Rita serve in a remote part of the Congo. They run a Bible School that trains villagers to be pastors. Glen also travels from village to village sharing the Gospel and showing the Jesus film.
Glen and Rita fixing holes in the sail of the powered parachute
There are no paved roads where Glen and Rita serve. Traveling from village to village means going over ruts, cliffs, mud holes and across streams and rivers. Steve Saint of ITEC perfected a powered parachute that Glen uses to fly to surrounding villages. Most people in this part of the Congo have never seen a flying machine before. When Glen flies into a village people come from miles around to look at the powered parachute and he invites them to come back that evening to watch a movie.
Glen’s first flight in the Congo
Many people have never actually seen a movie, only heard rumors about them. Often Glen starts by projecting a professional soccer game, or a documentary that shows other parts of the world.
The villages don’t have runways, but they do have big soccer fields and that is where Glen lands.
The people are amazed, never having before seen cars or cities. Sometimes Glen shows videos he took of them earlier that day. They laugh hysterically, seeing themselves running around on a “sheet” which is the movie screen. Then Glen starts the movie that tells the story of Jesus. They watch as Jesus loves his people and heals the sick and they watch as people nail him to a cross. Many of those watching are brought to tears.
Watching the Jesus film
There is not only weeping and crying, but also shouts of joy and celebration when Jesus rises from the dead. Glen invites them to the local church the next day where he and the pastor explain the Gospel in greater detail, and invite people to make decisions to follow this Jesus with their lives. Through this, many come to Christ for the first time. Glen entrusts these new believers to the village pastor who is equipped to nurture their faith.
Glen flies quickly to a village that would otherwise take hours to visit by bike,
The flying machine enables Glen to safely transport the fragile projection equipment over treacherous terrain. It also allows him to visit places that would take days to visit by bicycle.
Glen chooses to bike. The flying machine makes traveling a lot easier, but easier is not always better. Most white people traveling in rural parts of the Congo use car, boat, or motorbike to save time. So when the villagers see Glen pedaling past on a bike for the first time they are quite surprised.
“Why don’t you use a motorbike, Glen Chapman?” Glen smiles and tells them that sometimes he prefers to ride a bike. Glen is a missionary, and missionaries are not on the field just to get things done. He is there to reach people’s hearts with the truth and love of Jesus. Glen knows that when he slowly pedals past a village, he will need to stop and get food or water. In those moments conversations occur. Sometimes another traveler might pedal alongside and carry on a conversation leading to an opportunity to share the love of Jesus. When traveling slowly Glen might notice a sick man lying on the side of the path, or the little girl who is crying.
Glen stopping to visit on a bike trip
Jesus could have remained big and far away. But He chose to become small, a man who walked with us, ate with us and entered our world. This is how Jesus showed us God. Similarly, traveling the local way is much less convenient for Glen and Rita, but it connects them to the villagers in a way that zooming along on a motorbike does not allow.
The journey in the goat car happened very closely to what you heard on the episode. Only it happened to Glen, rather than Kate and Jack, and the driver wasn’t from Australia. We used portions from Glen’s own descriptions and put them in Kate’s blog.
Glen was not chased in the river by a hippo, but they are very dangerous animals. Here is a video of a man being chased. Click here to watch.
Sazi and her grandmother are fictional characters, but they demonstrate the experience of many villagers as they watch the Jesus film.
Episode 43: The Mysterious Palm Feller
The Real Story Glen and Rita’s mission is situated on 1,000 acres of land purchased by the ministry in the 1930’s. Most people of this area are hunters and gatherers. This means that instead of raising animals and planting in their own fields, they gather what they can find in the wild.
Learning to care for the Land
Often the people create a large fire in the shape of a circle. As the animals flee to the center, the villagers kill them regardless of whether they are young or old, male or female. As the human population increases and technology increases, people continue to discover easier ways to kill animals, making wildlife very scarce. There are no more elephants, hippos, antelope or baboons there. People have killed and eaten them all. Some villagers do plant fields of corn because it is the most valuable crop. However, corn quickly depletes the soil, causing the second year’s crop to be weak and sickly. So after the first harvest people look for another forested area to chop down. Year after year more forested areas are cut. Meanwhile the people are becoming worse off, since they have to travel farther and farther to plant fields and search for animals.
A palm grove
Glen and Rita are using the 1,000 acres to show how to care for the land as you use it to produce food. They demonstrate how different plants put nutrients back in the soil to make the fields reusable. They show the value of planting trees for food and building materials. They also show how you can raise domestic animals for food instead of killing the wild ones.
Rita and their pet otter
It is hard to convince people who are hungry and barely surviving to trust that the extra work will be worth it. Seeing the process work on the mission compound inspires them to try. Glen also has a sawmill and teaches the pastors in the school how to operate it. They also learn how to build furniture with the wood they make. When the pastors leave the school, they not only know how to care for people spiritually, they also return to their village with a trade and with knowledge to help their people come out of poverty. The Palm Feller Someone started dropping palm trees on the mission compound to collect palm wine. Glen tried to catch the person responsible, but was never quick enough. He always arrived a day late, finding trees lying dead on the ground. One day Glen caught a break. He discovered some jugs collecting sap from a recently downed tree. Glen took the jugs back to his house so that the guilty palm feller would come to him to retrieve his expensive containers.
Harvesting palm wine. Photo Credit: Nick Hobgood CC by-SA 2.0-2
When the man discovered the missing jugs he became very angry. The next day he followed Glen into the forest to beat him up. Thankfully some other men intervened and stopped him. Although a beating was avoided, both men were still angry at the other. Glen was angry because the man was cutting down the mission trees. The man was angry because Glen had interfered with his business. Glen didn’t know what to do. Later, the man’s brother was falsely accused and thrown into prison in the big city. The palm feller came to Glen and said, “Please forget everything I did. I shouldn’t have cut down your trees. Now, can you help get my brother out of jail?” Glen promised to try and visited the city. The man secretly followed Glen to see what would happen. To his surprise Glen kept his word and met with the top officials to discuss his brother’s case. Because of Glen’s influence, the officials released the palm feller’s brother!
Drinking palm wine out of a jug made from a gourd. Photo credit: Nick Hobgood CC BY 20-2
When Glen returned to the village compound the palm feller came to him with a changed heart. He was so grateful. From that day on they began to be friends. Now the palm feller attends the mission church and enjoys playing the drums during the service! Power Encounter Near the mission compound is a village that has embraced the Gospel. The village has its own church and a national pastor.
A blurry picture of the men training to be pastors at the Bible College
Glen passed through the village one Good Friday. He noticed a huge crowd, and a witch doctor in the middle of the crowd putting on a grand show. Glen knew that this particular witch edoctor used a special trick to deceive the villagers. Before he arrived he would have his helpers secretly hide “evil charms” in people’s yards. The next day he would show up and pretend to use magic to find these charms. This impressed the people who would then pay for his services. For part of his act he set up what looked like a graveyard. Then he put his magic staff on a gravestone, telling the crowd that whoever touched it would be struck by lightning and die instantly. When Glen came upon this evil gathering, he became very upset. How could these people who were supposedly following Jesus welcome this witch doctor into their village and fall for his tricks? Glen went into the village church to pray. As he prayed, God impressed on his heart that he needed to have a ‘power encounter’ with the witch doctor. Glen needed to show the village that Jesus is more powerful than the witch doctor’s magic. Glen made his way through the crowd and to everyone’s surprise, picked up the magic staff. He said, “Look at me people: The witch doctor said I’m supposed to die if I touch this… but I am not dead! He is deceiving you. Jesus is more than anything he is offering you!” The crowd was furious with Glen and rushed at him. He escaped into a nearby house and huddled inside as the villagers tried to break down the roof with large stones. The witch doctor didn’t like the fact that all his customers left so he went and called them all back. This allowed Glen to escape to the mission compound unharmed. A Witch Doctor’s Confession The next day the witch doctor came to Glen’s house. He told Glen that while he was praying in the neighboring hut, he noticed that his power went down. Glen didn’t really understand what that meant, but the witch doctor said, “I felt my power go from a 10 to a 2 as you prayed.
Many African countries have witch doctors. This one is from Zimbabwe. Photo credit: Hans Hillewaert
Now I know there is a power that is greater than witch doctor power. I no longer want to be a witch doctor.” He told Glen he wanted a Bible, and he wanted to give his life to Jesus. Later, Glen trained a man who became a pastor in the former witch doctor’s village. Two years later, the pastor came and told Glen that the man was still following Jesus, and serving faithfully as a deacon in his village church! The Enemy is real, but God’s power is also real, and it is much greater. We should never be overwhelmed by the enemy’s power. Only God’s power can set people free and bring life. Through Jesus and his death on the cross God forever destroyed the power the enemy once had over us, See Colossians 2:15
The pastors using the saw mill
Solar Panels on a roof
Learn more about the Chapman’s ministry here:
Episode 44: War of the Raccoons
Our team wanted to write a completely fictional & fun story which would include one of our favorite characters – Mr. Pennington. The real Ian Brinkman loves electronics and computers. Using a microphone found at a thrift store, a relay switch, arduino board and an old computer, Ian programed his lights to go on and off by voice commands. He also dreamed about creating a real nerf sentry gun as seen in the video below.
Click here to see a Nurf Vulcan Sentry Gun. When our team starts an episode we gather four or five people in a room and spend about a day brainstorming and then outlining the episode. For this one, we brought in our zany & creative friend Eric Schilder. Eric is a gifted computer programmer, and is extremely creative. He has written children’s books, creates music, and has an awesome family. With Eric we came up with the idea of a mobile raccoon deterrent device. Eric wanted to introduce a new character even more outrageous than Mr. Pennington. He described Lowell Feldspar and the team loved the concept. Ian asked Eric to write the scene where the boys and Pennington meet Feldspar. Eric more than delivered. When he read the Feldspar lines he wrote we hired him on the spot to play the strange guy. (Eric also played the prisoner Victor in the cell next to Dmitri in the episode Heart Song) Every Brinkman Adventure contains a lesson. This one has a couple. Brinkman Adventures loosely follows the Bultman family and deals with some of the same issues facing the real family. Sometimes the real Brinkman kids have trouble completing their chores. They can get distracted with things that are more fun than their jobs around the house. We decided to address that challenge in this episode. We also wanted to develop the story line of Anthony & Jack and demonstrate how the real Anthony & Michelle honored their parents in their courtship by including them in the decision making process. In real life, Kurt asked Ian if he could marry Alyssa and Ian really did give Kurt a list of questions to answer before giving his blessing. We created a non-working R-D for the album cover. To get the perfect cover shot we took hundreds of pictures and made about 40 mock-ups. Ian & Aunt Sarah worked very hard and finally got what they were after. But, when one of the companies that distributes Brinkman Adventures saw the picture before it went to print they expressed concern that people would think we had used a real gun to hunt raccoons. We hadn’t considered that and certainly didn’t want to communicate that idea. Based on the input from this company, we decided to use a different picture and demote R-D to a back cover inset. Below is the artwork Ian loves and almost made the front cover of our promotional CD. Didn’t Aunt Sarah do a nice job?
R-D & Isaac. The cover that almost was….
The real R-D complete with paintball marker, CO2 tank, iPhone, arduino board & servo
Note the difference between the two pictures of R-D. The bottom picture is a photograph. The top picture is a composite of several photographs which Sarah then spent hours painting. Our team had a blast creating this episode. Jared DePasquale topped it off with a fantastic music score. We hope you enjoyed listening as much as we enjoyed creating!
Episode 45: The Five Guys
The Real Story Pramana’s story is taken from Nik Ripken’s book The Insanity of God. Pramana came from a people group of twenty-four million with only 3 known Christians. He practiced a type of folk Islam like the rest of the people in his rural village. Pramana had memorized the Koran in Arabic, but didn’t understand the language, so he would chant the book like a magic formula. He had never heard the name of Jesus, nor the word Gospel. One day, in desperation, he went to the local mosque for help. The Imam sat him down and asked him to describe his problem. Pramana poured out his heart. “My life is falling apart. My crops are dying, my animals aren’t multiplying, my children are disrespectful and my wife and I are fighting so much we are ready to divorce.” “Bring me a white chicken and I will sacrifice it for you” said the Imam. “Then go home and pray and fast three days and three nights. After that you will know what to do.” So Pramana went home and did just that. On the third night, while in bed, a voice came to him without a body and said, “Find Jesus, find the Gospel.” Since Pramana had never heard those words before, he wondered if Jesus might perhaps be a special kind of tree or a rock. He had no idea what he was to look for. Then the voice told him to get out of bed and go over the mountain to a neighboring town. It told him that he would encounter two men and that he should ask them to direct him to a certain street. It told him to find a house with a specific number and then tell the man in that house why he had come. So Pramana jumped out of bed, grabbed his coat, and headed over the mountain. At dawn, just as the voice had said, he found the town and the two men. He asked them to direct him to the proper street, and they did! On that street he walked up and down until he found the correct house number. When he knocked on the door an old man opened it. He greeted the man and then said, “I have come to find Jesus and the Gospel.” The old man grabbed him by the shirt, pulled him inside, and slammed the door, exclaiming, “Do you Muslims think I’m that foolish to fall for a trap as transparent as this?” Pramana was startled, and said, “I don’t know if you are foolish or not sir. I just met you, but here is why I have come.” He told him how he had ended up at his house. The old man was stunned. The Holy Spirit had led Pramana to one of the only three known Christians in his entire people group of 24 million. He went on to share the gospel with Pramana and led him to the Lord. He invited Pramana to stay, and discipled him for two weeks. Pramana returned to his village and his life began to change. Five years later, he somehow learned that Nik was in his country, speaking with believers in hostile environments. So Pramana traveled miles and miles to find him and share his story. Pray that God would strengthen this man even today, and that his family and his neighbors would not be afraid, but would also come to know this Jesus who is real, who loves them, and who doesn’t want anyone to perish! The Persistent Doctor The Brinkman Adventure episode #45 Five Guys occurred very closely to how Nik described the events in The Insanity of God. However, Nik’s assistant did not get hurt and the fictional Jack Brinkman obviously did not participate. As portrayed in the episode, Nik was in the middle of a trip which had been planned months earlier. He had multiple interviews scheduled in each of the countries along the route. A European doctor working in a small border town contacted him and sent a guarded but clear message. “I heard of the research you are doing, and I believe the Lord needs you to come to this town.” Nik turned him down multiple times over the next three weeks, each time getting more and more adamant that he wasn’t going to visit that part of the world until next year. The doctor persisted, and Nik continued to refuse. But when all of the pastors Nik had planned to meet were unable to meet due to imprisonment, accidents, or tight surveillance, he concluded that perhaps God DID want him to visit the doctor. So he swallowed his pride, called the doctor, and promised to meet him at the airport. Deserted When Nik exited the plane and stepped onto the dirt runway, he saw the doctor standing next to five men in traditional Muslim garb. He greeted the doctor and asked him, “Who are your friends?” Surprised and concerned the doctor lowered his voice and said. “You don’t know them?” “No,” Nik responded. “I didn’t know you until 30 seconds ago.“ “Well then”, the doctor said. “We have a serious security problem. They said they were here to meet you.” He gave Nik his number and said, “I’m going to have to leave you. Call me if everything turns out OK.” There stood Nik, now alone with five complete strangers who had come to meet him. Nik was nervous. He told himself there was no way he would go anywhere with those guys. He grabbed his bag and headed into the terminal to catch the next flight out of the country. But the men followed him and started pulling on his clothes, asking him to stop. Nik tried to ignore them and walk faster, but finally one of them said in English, “Please wait! We are followers of Jesus!” Nik stopped, surprised, and turned to listen to what they had to say. Against his better judgment, but sensing maybe he needed to go with them, he allowed them to drive him to a tiny apartment across town. The 5 Guys They all sat down in an unfurnished room, smiling at Nik as if expecting something. Nik wasn’t sure what to do, so he hesitantly began to explain how he was interviewing persecuted believers around the world. He suggested that God had likely led him to them so he could learn from them as well. When the men heard this they laughed, and said, “That is why you think you are here, but we will tell you why you are really here.” One by one they shared their amazing stories. One man had a dream about a blue book. The message of the dream was “Look for this book, read this Bible.” He began a secret search for the book, and one day walked into an Islamic bookstore. There were green copies of the Koran all over the walls. Then toward the back of the bookstore he saw a big blue book. He walked over and discovered it was a Bible printed in his own language! He took it home and read it cover to cover five times. That’s how he came to know Jesus. Another man said he had a dream about finding Jesus, but didn’t know where to even start looking. Then one day, a man he had never met came up to him in a crowded market and said, “The Holy Spirit told me to give you this,” and handed him a Bible. He read it cover to cover three times, and that is how HE gave his life to Jesus. Each one had a similar story. Each one had come across the Bible in a miraculous way, and each had read it multiple times. Each had decided to follow Jesus. They told Nik how they had all been rejected by their families and had fled to this border town. Somehow, they had found each other and started meeting in this little room from midnight to three in the morning, praying and reading the Bible, hoping no one would notice them. First White Man Off the Plane One of the men continued. “Two months ago we began praying this prayer, “Oh God, we don’t know how to do this! We know how to be Muslims in a Muslim environment, but we don’t know how to be Christians in a Muslim environment. Please Lord, send us someone who knows about persecution, someone who knows what other believers are doing, someone who can encourage us and teach us.” Chills went up and down Nik’s spine. They told him, “This morning at 1:30am we were praying, and the Holy Spirit told us, ‘Go to the airport and look for the first white man that gets off the plane. I am sending him to answer your questions.’” “Now,” they said, “This is why you are here, and now you can do what God has called you to do. But,” they said, “where have you been and what have you been doing for the last two months?” Nik was a little embarrassed as he told them how he had been refusing the doctor’s invitation, and said, “I am so sorry, I guess I was being disobedient!” The next few days flew by as Nik taught the men what he had learned from other believers in persecution. You can read the full story of Pramana and the five guys in Nik Ripken’s book “The Insanity of God” page 265 and 275.
Episode 46: Toughest Man
The Real Story
Nik met Ameer (Not his real name) through the European doctor. Ameer agreed to be interviewed by Nik, but told Nik he must remain hidden. Nik was to never learn his real name, or identity. During the Interview, Ameer sat in a dark corner of the room behind a large plant. He described to Nik how he used to command a group of Special Forces that fought against foreign invaders. He felt that killing these people was an offering to his god. He had killed so many people in hand-to-hand combat that he stopped counting when the number reached 100. In time he began experiencing disturbing dreams. He would see blood on his hands that he couldn’t get off. As time went on the dreams became worse, with even more blood. He began to dread falling asleep at night. Then one day he saw the blood on his hands while awake! He blinked but it wouldn’t go away. As he desperately tried to wash it off, his heart sank. His friends told him there was no blood on his hands, but Ameer could see it plainly. He concluded he must have been going crazy. The Dream Then one night his dream changed. Like every other night, he was trying to get the blood off when a man stood before him. The man was clothed in white with scars on his head, his hands and his feet. This man said, “I am Jesus the Messiah and I can get the blood off if you will find me and believe in me.” He woke up, and knew he must discover what this dream meant. It took him over a year to find a copy of the Bible, and took even longer to understand it. He found a few people who could answer his questions, and finally he invited Jesus into his heart. He told Nik, “I got the blood off! Jesus took the blood onto Himself.” Immediately his dreams ended. He continued reading his Bible, and soon his wife came to the Lord. His old Band For two years Ameer smuggled Bibles from the neighboring country into his own country. One day as he travelled over the mountains, he encountered a band of men. Before he realized it, they were upon him. To his dismay he realized they were the very men he used to lead. They knew that he had left his faith and had become a Christian. This made him a traitor of the worst kind in their mind. They began beating him, intent on killing him. But suddenly one of the men spoke up. “Wait! We must think about what we are doing. If we kill him, we may miss out on valuable information. Let me take him down the mountain, bandage him up, and get him to talk. That way we can find out whom he is working with. Then we can kill him.” The other men agreed, so they put him on a donkey and the man brought him down the mountain and into town. After treating Ameer’s beatings, in our episode the man said, “Ameer, I too am a believer in Jesus! I found one of the Bibles you smuggled into my village, and now I believe. In reality we don’t know if this man found one of Ameer’s Bibles, and we don’t know why he chose to stay with the militia group after becoming a Christian. These two points are possible, but were something our writers created to fill in the blanks of the story. In our episode this man felt God wanted him to stay and realized the reason after rescuing Ameer. In our episode we also say this man says he found Jesus by reading a Bible Ameer smuggled. In reality we don’t know how this other man became a believer. Ameer’s Secret As Nik listened to Ameer’s story, he began to feel there was something Ameer wasn’t telling him. Nik told him how much his story meant to him. Then asked, “What about your family, I haven’t heard you talk about them. What part do they have in your ministry?” Ameer jumped out of his dark corner and ran at Nik, grabbing his shoulders and shouting, “How can God ask it? Tell me, how can God ask it? I have given everything for Him. I’ve been beaten, thrown in jail, starved, left for dead. I have been willing to die for Jesus. But what I fear, what I really fear, what I can’t get out of my mind, is… what if God asks of my wife and children what I have willingly given Him. How can God ask it? Tell me!” Literally shaken, Nik didn’t know what to say. Like the apostle Paul, this man had given everything to Jesus and had experienced beatings and torture for the sake of Christ. Nik prayed and asked God to help him know what to say. “Ameer, I personally can’t answer your question, but I will ask you another question that I have asked myself: ”Is Jesus worth it? Is Jesus worth the lives of your wife and children?” Ameer began to sob. Nik held him as this tough man stood, weeping on Nik’s shoulder. After some time he let go, probably a little embarrassed. He looked Nik firmly in the eye. “Yes, Jesus is worth it. He is worth my life, and my wife’s life, and my children’s lives. I have to get them involved in what God is doing with me.” Ameer kept his word and twelve years later he continues to faithfully serve Christ alongside his wife and his children. Nik writes that Ameer was the toughest man he had ever met. One so strong, and who had suffered so much for Jesus, and who entrusted Him with absolutely everything he had. You can read Ameer’s full story in Nik Ripken’s book “The Insanity of God” Page 282. You can learn more about Nik Ripken at his website: ;www.nikripken.com
Episode 47: Cambodian Quest
The Real Story
Carl Ralston, Founder of Remember Nhu
Most of the events and situations in this story are fictional, however the concept of a home that children can stay in, to be protected from slavery is true! The ministry Carl Ralston founded (Remember Nhu) has set up over 50 homes all over the world for children who are at risk for being sold as slaves.
Remember Nhu girls
There they have a safe place to live, learn about Jesus, and can go to school without fear of being sold. For the kids in the homes who are not college bound, giving them a trade is their hope for the future. Vocational Training Centers are their hope-filled alternative to college. In this special environment, volunteer instructors pass on their skills in such things as sewing, woodworking, jewelry making, baking or bicycle repair, to the young adults in the home.
Girls learning to sew with a volunteer
The story of the mother wishing to sell her baby to a Remember Nhu worker is based on a true situation. Though this is a hard reality, the mother would rather give her child away than see her baby fall into the hands of bad people. Those involved in Remember Nhu commonly face this type of situation.
Click here to watch some of the girls at a remember Nhu home having a special meal.
While the actual person Kitri represents has never traveled to Cambodia, it is true that she has an interest in writing. Often she will be found spending many hours holed up in her room, writing all the stories and poems that come to her imaginative mind.
The story of Sov chasing Makara is fictional, yet based on the harsh reality of the slavery. There are many real life situations where children in these countries find themselves pursued by bad people. Pray that God will protect these children and guide those who seek to keep children safe.
For more information about this incredible ministry, check out the Remember Nhu website. Please visit with your parents.
Episode 48: What Brings Us Together
My actual wedding story
by Alyssa (Michelle Brinkman)
Much of this story is fictional, however I really did get married around the time we started writing the episode. Thankfully, Anthony didn’t receive an anonymous letter, the pastor did not get a kidney stone, Jack was not arrested for armed robbery, and there was no fire. Our wedding was outside on a beautiful October morning, under a thick canopy of fog.
Leading up to the wedding there was a lot of rain. The day before the wedding, we were pushing water off of the tents to keep them from collapsing. Click here to view a video of this.
Because of the rain, the field in which we were holding the ceremony was very wet – so wet that the trucks were not able to drive down and deliver the chairs, and tables. Thankfully the guys enjoyed this challenge and brought everything down the hill by hand. A big job! The Lord replaced the anticipated rainstorm with a beautiful foggy and unseasonably warm morning. We checked the radar and saw a circle of storms around us, but they never touched our field until about 30 minutes after the couple left. At that point, the clouds opened releasing a very strong downpour. (Much to the chagrin of those cleaning up!)
Storms beginning to surround the ceremony
About 30 minutes before the ceremony Jack (dad) realized that his suit had been left at home on the bed (this was about a ten-minute drive). As Anthony (Kurt) & I came riding up the drive after getting our pictures done, Dad roared past us in the opposite direction. Needless to say, the wedding might have started just a little bit later than planned.
Mom & Dad drinking their coffee in complete ignorance of the chaos that soon ensued when Dad’s suit went missing.
We had a great photographer…. the talented Aunt Sarah!
During the ceremony the guests enjoyed a delicious breakfast, the couple cut a waffle cake, the kids played touch football in the field and a good time was had by all!
And the Waffle Bar
Me and my Babe
We were sent off under a shower of birdseed (in lieu of rice) and chased down the lane by all the little kiddos. About 5 minutes down the road, we promptly turned around, because I forgot all of my luggage! Just taking after Dad who discovered he forgot his shoes while on his honeymoon.