A week ago we came back from our 2 1/2 month-long, 26 event Winter Tour over 4 states & 1 territory of Australia, as well as 3 countries!
We have been simply amazed with what God has done throughout this time. We still are trying to process all the things that happened and all the testimonies we heard. It was as though God used this tour to show us “this is why you are doing this“.
We wanted to share with you some of the testimonies, things that we heard, and some photos from the tour. We want to thank you for your encouragement and support throughout this tour!
- A young woman found Jesus on her own through online Bible studies offered by Amazing Facts within the last month and came to our Stories & Songs concert where we told our testimony. She expressed how encouraging our story was and then had many questions about ARISE. She has desired to learn more about Jesus and is now considering going to a Bible college.
- On our first day in Germany we went to get some food for dinner at a small local supermarket. At the register we found out that they didn’t take our card (a travellers pre-loaded credit card), but a nice German Christian man paid the €10 euro for our food so we didn’t have to go find an ATM.
- Singing and speaking about the beauty of Jesus’ sacrifice as shown through the sanctuary at a church, which had just that week been doing a Bible study session on it.
- After we sang our song ‘He Knows’ at GYC Europe this one guy came up to us and said that he originally thought we were just another artist doing a cover of that song. He had heard it a few times being ‘covered’ by other singers in Europe. Then he realised we were the songwriters.
- A family who had been through multiple major health issues affecting each member of the family over more than the last half decade, came to church for the second time in several years. They said our coming to the church was providential and the music-sermon was exactly what they needed to hear in their time of emotional recovery.
- Multiple concerts had people who invited their non-christian friends.
- Hertz upgraded our European car rental for free to a much faster, more economical car, which not only made the Autobahn more fun but also had us filling up with diesel, which is a much cheaper fuel to buy in Europe.
- After a ‘Gospel through Word & Song’ concert, a woman came up to us who was struggling with a divorce, anxiety and depression She expressed how our concert and our relationship had given her hope for the future.
- We had a house concert that was rrequested only a week in advance so we weren’t sure what to expect but we were blessed to worship God with about 40 people.
- An older guy came to a concert and had his first good conversation with the church pastor ever. He comes to church occasionally and has always been aloof.
- After taking the service at Warburton we dropped by the nursing home and got cosy together on a piano stool sharing one mic in order to share some songs and a message. It was amazing to share a message through Word & song about the character of God and the hope that Jesus is coming again soon. I had tears in my eyes as we sung the last song, which was one of our new songs that’s based on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:10.
- Had a concert that was used as a part of a ‘Last Empire’ evangelistic series. A lot of people came from the community.
- The taxes on importing our CDs into Germany were much cheaper than we initially expected.
- A young woman from Latvia, who we had only known on Twitter felt impressed to make a special gift for us. Inside a bottle is special paper & Austrian lavender inside. She said it is a place to store all the blessings that God has worked in our lives. And when things are tough in music ministry we can read over them and be reminded of how God is working.
- Met a family from Nicaragua, who became Christian in Jordan and who know lives in North Iraq. They were in Germany for a holiday and just happened to go to Dortmund SDA Church the weekend before our concert. They came to our concert and one of the things they said was that God had brought us there at the right time for them to hear the concert.
- Having an in-depth conversation with a young guy about Monique’s experiences of following Christ after a concert and hearing that from that night’s concert & conversation God had inspired him to follow God unreservedly.
- A former Adventist came back to church for only the second time in years to attend our ‘Gospel through Word & Song’ concert.
- A young woman told us of how she had used our concert filmed at YiM conference last year in Germany at her local church in Bulgaria. She translated it all and then they played it in one of their church services.
- A young woman who had been coming to church for just a month and was getting baptised the next week came to our concert after a lot of indecision during the afternoon. Her atheist family has been very vocal against her since we decided to follow Jesus. She told us that she also struggles with anxiety that hits her when she has to go to work. She expressed that she knows that she brings this on herself through worry and stress beforehand. She thanked us for our testimony that we told during the Stories & Songs concert. She said that it encouraged her to trust in God and to give Him her worries & stresses about work.
- During one of our ‘Gospel through Word & Song’ concerts a woman burst into tears. After the concert she told me her story. That afternoon an Adventist friend invited her to our concert. They travelled an hour to get to the concert. That day she had signed her divorce papers. The last few months had been draining & incredibly difficult in multiple ways and she explained that she was a giver who found it hard to let others give to her. As a result of the last few months, she felt she had nothing left to give, but was struggling to allow anyone even God give to her. As she stood in front of me with tears rolling down her face, we said thank you. Thank you for showing me that I can let God take this burden. And that she was going to try to let Him give her peace.
- A young woman came to our concert and expressed that God had brought us to that church at just the right time. That very day she had been praying and struggling with giving over to God some things in her life and trying to trust God with them. She said that our ‘Gospel through Word & Song’ concert encouraged her to do just that.
- A guy, whose mum is a member of the church we went to, came to a Stories & Songs concert who we were told after, never comes to church events. He stayed for the whole concert & afterwards the pastor asked him if he’d be interested in coming to a dinner and Bible study at the pastors house the next night. He said yes!
- Our credit card was already kinda high going to Europe as we had to buy a needed digital piano last year… So with the flights and other travel expenses we got that card up to $8000 in debt, ouch! Before we left Australia, we thankfully were able to get it down to $5500… Anyways, while at GYC Europe we had a moment of “Did we hear God right? Did we make a massive mistake? Are we ever going to be able to pay this back?” God worked a miracle! Arriving back home in Australia we were able to pay off the entire amount down to zero! Praise God!!
- On the tour we really struggled at one point. The very next day, we had someone come up to us after the concert and say, “Keep doing what you are doing. Don’t give up.”
- We were able to put aside time to begin pre-production for our new studio album! We recorded the demos for all the songs we have written then were able to narrow it down to the top 12. Once we had these 12 songs we noticed they all naturally flow towards the same theme. We didn’t even try to plan or write it that way! God is amazing! After putting them into a ‘set list’ for the new album, we listened through it and got incredibly excited! We can’t wait to share them with you all!
So here are just a few of the testimonies we can remember from our Winter Tour 2014. The tour was so packed that we’re still trying to process all that took place, it was so amazing! Look out for some exciting plans coming up soon!
Love & blessings,
E & M
At the beginning of 2013 we committed to full-time music ministry.
However, in our minds, we kept telling ourselves that it was only going to be for 6 months. It seemed safer. Less scary if you will. Then after six months the plan would be to move to Avondale College for Eric to complete his Theology/Ministry degree that he started all those years ago. Even though a major move in and of itself is daunting, to us, that option seemed a lot easier than the unknown life of the full-time musicianary.
So, we prayed and planned for six months of music ministry.
First up in 2013 was the Songs of Ascent ‘Psalm 103 Tour’ that would go from January till March in USA (Read about that tour here). Before we left Australia we were struggling in looking for tickets. They were all so expensive! We started to look around search engines. Researching different ways to put together the flight sectors to get it cheaper. We then realised that a make-it-yourself round-the-world ticket was actually the same price as a return trip to USA! Wow, sweet! That led us to thinking, “Could this be a door that God is opening for us to tour in Europe as well as USA??” So, we prayed. We struggled. We thought… a lot. Then, the ticket prices changed slightly and we knew we had to make a decision before they went up too much in price. So, we ‘jumped’. We prayed both before and after we bought the tickets that God would use this decision for His glory. Even though we hadn’t booked any concerts, we prayed that He would make a way for these events to come.
He did! Through the 11 weeks in USA and the 5 weeks in Europe we saw God at work. It was an amazing experience that we haven’t to this day fully processed. We heard stories of struggles experienced and commitments that God inspired people to make through the concerts. After USA and Europe we went back home to Australia to tour the East coast. June was approaching and we came to a point where we couldn’t see ourselves putting the brakes on music ministry. God had opened so many doors and we could visibly see Him working through this ministry and we knew we had to keep going. It didn’t help that people after concerts around this time would say to us, “Don’t stop doing what you’re doing” we saw this as a sign and our six month jaunt became one year… Oh, by the way, you can read about our first full-time year in more detail here.
So our first year of full-time music ministry came to an end and we were trying to figure out what to do next. We spent a few weeks struggling, praying and thinking over possible options. Could full-time music ministry actually work and be sustainable? We felt a strong need to be a part of a church community and to have a place to come back to after a tour. After being on the road for a year and being at a different church for nearly every Sabbath for 2 1/2 years we wanted a home.
All the while music ministry was happening, we still had Eric’s unfinished degree in the back of our minds. Just the thought of the moving expenses of going up to Avondale College was weighing us down. Randomly, we then heard that Eric’s degree was now being offered by distance education beginning in 2014. So, Eric contacted the Theology/Ministry department to see if doing distance education was a viable option. After praying about the situation we got to thinking about where we would want to live if distance education was the direction Eric would go.
At that point we were staying with my parents who live in South Gippland in Victoria. We have always loved South Gippsland. It is simply one of the most beautiful areas in Australia and for many years we had dreamed about being able to live just outside of Melbourne to be far enough away, but close enough to enjoy. Also, one of the churches Eric worked with in our first year of marriage is in South Gippsland. We loved that church! So, we began looking around for rental properties. On the day we began our search we found a cute, 3 bedroom house. It was on the coast and it had cheap rent. In fact, we found out that it’s price had dropped $50 on that very day we were searching. We prayed about it and put in our rental application thinking there wasn’t too much of a chance we would be chosen due to being newly self-employed. Two days later, Eric got an email saying he could finish his degree by distance education. Then, two hours later we got a phone call from the realtor saying we had been chosen out of about 15 applicants by the landlord! Praise God!! So, we moved in and began our second year of music ministry with a place to call home after tours.
So in a nutshell, that is the story of how we became full-time musicianaries.
The last year and 8 months have been nothing that I had imagined or could have ever predicted. Sometimes it’s really difficult doing music ministry and being on the road can be incredibly tiring. We’ve learnt that numbers don’t mean much. Often we can’t believe the places we have sung in and how far around the world our music has travelled. But, the greatest reward is hearing stories from people of how God used our music in their lives.
For me, music ministry begins with an understanding that everything is only possible with Jesus at the centre. Every note. Every spoken word. Every concert. Every tour… And that if God is taken out of the centre, that will be the moment the music ministry begins to lose its purpose. With this in mind, we spend time before each music event in prayer and focusing on the importance of what we are about to do. Praying that God will be heard through our singing and speaking. That God will be seen and we will become invisible. And that He will help us to sing like this could be the last time we ever get the chance to sing.
Each tour has been unique in its own way with the people we meet, the stories we hear and the scenery we drive by between each place. Yet, they also have similarities that run between regardless of state, country or language. We have found that music breaks down barriers and speaks to the heart in a profound way when it is coupled with Scripture.
Overall, it has been overwhelming to receive so much encouragement and support from family, friends and people we have just met. We’ve noticed that God has a sense of humour and is always there to catch us when we take a leap of faith.
Becoming full-time musicianaries was not part of our original ‘plan’ or desire in life, but it came about through what we believe was the leading of our Saviour. We don’t know where the road will lead or how long we will be on it. All we know is that we desire to follow Jesus where He goes and live a life dedicated to Him.
If you missed:
To Read Part 1 – Click Here
To Read Part 2 - Click Here
To Read Part 3 - Click Here
It was an upright piano in the back corner of a long room at ARISE. Eric was practicing ‘He Knows’ and I was sitting next to him, hanging out, waiting for him to finish. After awhile I began to sing a little harmonies here and there. A friend walked through the door close to the piano and said, “You guys should sing at the concert!”
I said, “Yea, Eric’s singing.”
He responded, “No, you should both sing.”
“No! Eric’s gonna sing.”
“You should both sing!!”
This went on for a few days, until I said, “Will you leave me alone if I say yes to singing with Eric?”
He left me alone, and Eric and I sang together for the first time. I was petrified. Literally, my hands were shaking before and after. During, I was just nervous. I actually chose to sit behind the piano. There I am in the photo below, trying my hardest to hide behind the piano and the light.
After the concert had finished our teacher, David Asscherick, said that the song was perfect for his sermon at GYC. He asked if we could come and sing for his sermon appeal. After a lot of praying, we felt a strong calling to commit and go to GYC 2009 in Louisville, Kentucky. We didn’t have the money upfront to go, but based on how the Lord had blessed in the past, we prayed and took the risk to charged it to our emergency credit card. We have never regretting stepping out in faith!
Have you ever been scared to take a step into the unknown? To put yourself out into an uncertain situation? We stood backstage. The tightness and fluttering in my chest and the clamminess in my hands could only be described as fear. As we waited to sing in front of 6,000 people, my mind felt foggy. The fear inched its way into my mind. We prayed. For peace. For steadiness of voice. And to be used by God. As we walked out to the sea of people. Peace descended. This was only the third time we had sung together in public. It was an incredible experience!
After GYC we were led back to Melbourne with Eric getting a Bible worker position at a church and me as a Bible/Religion high school teacher in the Western suburbs of Melbourne. We had a great year of ministry in one of the least christian western suburbs in the southern hemisphere. Throughout the year we gradually came to the realisation that God was opening up more doors in the direction of music ministry. We were praying and trying to figure out how to afford our first record when we were approached by Psalter studios in at the Adventist Media Centre (based in Sydney). Recording albums are expensive and we had no idea how we were going to be able to do this album, to be called ‘Pilgrim’. Psalter offered us to become signed artists which meant they would fund our first album upfront and we would pay off the project via a buy-back scheme at $7 per CD. We were so thankful to God for opening up this door and for Psalter, especially Tim Burcham and Dale Willis, for all their help and vision. They were an amazing team organising super talented session players and bringing our ideas for this album to light.
As time progressed we could see through many ways that God was leading us into full-time music ministry. We prayed a lot about it. We told our friends and family that we were going to go into music ministry full-time at the end of the year (2010). The end of the year came. We got scared. We doubted that God could take care of us while putting ourselves into His hands so completely, financially. It sounds weird as God had given us so much evidence of how we could trust Him for everything in the past. Yet, we doubted. So, we stayed. This scenario repeated for the next two years.
Throughout this time when we were struggling with God calling, God opened the door for us to be involved in the formation of Songs of Ascent (SOA). SOA is a ministry under the umbrella of ARISE & Lightbearers. As a collective of musicianaries, we came together to do music evangelistic tours with an evangelist speaking throughout the concert to create a seamless creative narrative on the character of God. Around this time we had also begun to do music/sermons at churches around Victoria in Australia. Doors continued to open and God continued to impress upon us that He was leading us into full-time music ministry. We are so thankful for the continued support and spiritually-minded advice from our friends in the picture below throughout this time and into the present. They all mean so much to us. We praise God that He brought them all into our life and we get the privilege of doing ministry together.
Full-time music ministry was a scary thought as it was very comfortable to keep our regular jobs with all the security that they brought. We both really came to understand the Israelites’ doubt of God after they had been bought out of Egypt. He had shown them multiple amazing signs of His providence. And yet they doubted. We had seen and experienced physical signs of God looking after us. We have discovered that faith and trust in God is like a muscle that needs exercise. And that to surrender to Him takes a daily surrender. After a lot of praying and planning we decided to go into full-time music ministry at the beginning of 2013.
To be continued…
If you missed:
To Read Part 1 – Click Here
To Read Part 2 – Click Here
To Read Part 4 – Click Here
We stepped from summer into -9°C winter. The ground was white leading into the grey sky of twilight. For me it was amazing to be back in Kyiv to see so many old friends from the first time I lived and volunteered in Ukraine. We taught English as a Second language, helped lead Friday night Bible conversational club and helped out at the International Seventh-day Adventist Church. We had 6 months living in both Kyiv and Kharkov filled with good memories, making great friends, laughter, really difficult challenges, answers to prayer, and seeing God work in amazing ways.
And Eric wrote the songs ‘He Knows’ & ‘It’s Time’.
Just one of the many stand out experiences happened at a Friday Night Bible conversational club when we studied about the Inspiration of the Bible – basing it around the reasons why we believe the Bible is God’s Word. We looked at reasons from: history, archaeology, the Bible itself and fulfillment of prophecy. At the beginning of the night we asked them what they thought of the Bible. They were very open explaining their opinions. None of the students thought it was God’s Word. Only a few thinking it might be possible that part of the Bible could be God’s Word. Throughout the night they had questioned us about various things about the Bible and other religious books. We got through the Bible study and as we did we could tell that they were getting more open to the possibility of the Bible being God’s Word. At the end of the night we challenged them to read the Bible and decide for themselves. Seven people out of eight took the Bibles! After we prayed, most stayed on for about 45 minutes and asked a lot of tough questions.
As the half year was approaching, we began to pray about where God wanted us to be. Eric had been looking at Bible Colleges for a while now and had the thought of going to one tugging at his mind. So, we began looking at ones in Australian and USA. Looking at the time that they began and a few other factors, we narrowed it down to ARISE. The college was located (at that time) in Sonora, California, USA. The only problem was that we had no money to go. At that point we had about $200 in our bank account and were on volunteer wages of about $250 p/m each. Due to the AUD/USD exchange rate at that time we needed around $14,000 AUD ($9,965 USD). And this was just after the Global Financial Crisis. It sounded impossible! So, we prayed about it. We wrote up a newsletter to send out to our family and friends letting them know what God had put on our hearts. Then we just waited on the Lord. Over the next while, all the money came through in various ways and from various people, many of whom are still anonymous. We couldn’t believe it. We had the money to go to ARISE!
But we didn’t have enough to get to California. So, we prayed.
Kevin Rudd (the then Prime Minister of Australia), at exactly the right time, gave out $900 to each Australian (who had earned a certain amount the previous financial year) as part of a stimulus package for the economy. This was the exact amount of money we needed to buy flights from Kyiv to Washington DC. But how would we get from Baltimore (where my Uncle lives) to Sonora, California? So, we prayed again for enough money and a way to get across the country.
My Gran & Pa Skyped us and told us that they were going on an RV holiday throughout the national parks across the US at the same time as when we were going to be in Baltimore until when we needed to be at ARISE. They asked if we would like to come with them and for Eric to help them drive the RV in ‘return’. As they owned the RV, my grandparents offered for us to ‘hitchhike’ with them only paying for what they wouldn’t pay if we weren’t with them! We were astounded. Amazed how God not only provided what we needed, but also an experience that we will never forget with grandparents that mean so much to us both.
In the middle of the RV ‘Hitchhike’ trip, we got our tax returns that gave us the money we needed to pay for flights back to Australia and food for during ARISE.
ARISE was one of the most spiritually meaningful and fulfilling experiences we had been through as a married couple as well as individually. Learning in-depth about the Bible and sharing that knowledge through going door-to-door and taking Bible studies for four months was amazing in so many ways. To be equipped with an understanding of the Bible, our beliefs and how it is all centred around Jesus gave us a desire to continue learning and drawing closer to God.
One Sabbath, we were at church and the offering was announced. As I looked in my purse I saw a $50 note and it was as though time froze. I showed Eric and he began slowly shaking his head. To understand why we had this reaction I need to back up a bit to a decision we made at the beginning of the year.
In January when we first got to Ukraine, we were already amazed how in the middle of a global financial crisis God had provided exactly how much money we had needed. Around that time we read Malachi 3:8, 10 “‘In what ways have we robbed you?’ In tithes and offerings… Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for your such a blessing that there will be not enough room to receive it.” We read this and took it at God’s word. We prayed about it and made a decision between us and God that in addition to tithe that during 2008 we would give all the money in our wallets and purse into the offering each week. We wanted to physically show that we were giving this year fully to God and to trust Him financially. For us this was quiet hard, and sometimes still is.
So, back to that Sabbath at ARISE where we had a $50 note in my purse when the offering was called. The totally amount of money we had left was $55. There was still about three weeks left at ARISE. And we had put the $50 in my purse this morning, not the $5! We both did not want to give the $50. As those collecting the offering slowly got closer, Eric & I both shook our heads. We didn’t want to do it. But inside it was as though there was a war going on. So, we prayed. As soon as we had finished praying, we looked at each other and knew that we had to give the $50. We put in the $50. Immediately we both felt completely at peace.
Later that night, I was one of the welcomers at the evangelistic series ARISE was running. A man came through and shook my hand. As he kept walking, I looked down and saw two $50 notes in my hand! I walked after him to tell him left something in my hand, unbelieving that this could be happening. He told me that he had a strong impression from God that I needed that money. Wow!
After the evangelistic meeting had ended that night, one of our teachers came up to me with an envelope. He said that someone thought that we needed this, but didn’t want us to know who it was from. I looked into the envelope and there was $150! We couldn’t believe it! God has quadrupled the money we had given to him just that morning. Praise God!
ARISE was also the first time Eric & I had sung together. We had been married for nearly 2 years at that point.
To be continued…
* If you want to read more about these experiences, we blogged about them all the way back in 2009 here.
If you missed:
To Read Part 1 – Click Here
To Read Part 3 – Click Here
To Read Part 4 – Click Here
SupportYour financial gift to our full-time music ministry will assist the mission to spread the gospel through word & song. Thank you for your generosity.
We have an exciting project coming up very soon, if you want to hear about it, please sign up to our mailing list! eepurl.com/eUIoA