The Dnieper River frozen solid in Kyiv, Ukraine.

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.

Visiting a Ukrainian village for a Christmas Celebration at -25°C.

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.

We saw many US National Parks on our trip across the country. The Grand Canyon was breathtaking!

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.

Climbing up the side of a cliff, just another day for my grandparents. Young at heart indeed!

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.

Pastor David Asscherick teaching at ARISE.

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.

ARISE Class of 2009.

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!

Snow Day at ARISE 2009.

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 missed part 1 – read it here.

~ Monique
* If you want to read more about these experiences, we blogged about them all the way back in 2009 here.

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One Friday evening on a recent tour, we were sitting around our billet’s table and it came time to open the Sabbath. The family shared stories on the providence of God and people stepping out in faith. These stories led to us to share our story of how we came to be in their dining room, living as full-time musicianaries. After telling the story and seeing their reactions, we realised that to a degree we had taken the journey God had led us on for granted. Sometimes when you’re right in the middle of life’s picture you can be oblivious to the frame and all that God has done.

So, we wanted to share this same story with you. The story of how God led us to become musicanaries. It’s a long story, so we’re going to break it up into a four parts that we’ll put up on our blog over the next six weeks. We hope that through sharing this testimony, God will be uplifted!

We haven’t always been musicianaries.

It began with a want to follow God wherever He leads. A realisation that this world is temporary and that God’s love is eternal.

Our Wedding day.

Eight years and three months ago we met. We became best friends. Fell in love and decided to serve God together for the rest of our lives. Six and a half years ago we got married. It was a perfect day, which ended with us driving around to find a hotel until 2:30am after the initial hotel we booked (that had 24 hour reception) decided to close early that night for some reason. Looking back, it’s hilarious. At the time, not so much.

After our honeymoon on Matamanoa Island in Fiji, Eric joined me in Melbourne, where I had already been living for a year. We set up house, extremely excited and loving life. Within the first few months we had racked up quite a bit of debt with a nice red car and some new furniture. I was working as an English and Humanities high school teacher at a Seventh-day Adventist School and Eric was working as a youth pastoral worker at two churches. Life was great!

1st year of marriage.

As the year progressed we realised that our focus wasn’t quite right. With us both having good jobs, life was easy sailing. We noticed that our security and focus shifted to gaining material things, the here and now. Even though we were both working for God. That we both loved God and had always sought to follow God. We realised that we weren’t as fully committed to God as we knew we could be. During that time we read some incredible stories on the faith of Brother Andrew in his his book ‘God Smuggler’ and listened to a lot of faith sermons by David Gates. Deep down we were convicted that we were not giving our all to God and we felt a desire to give more and to take a step of faith. We wanted a deeper experience with God. So, we prayed. We listened to sermons, read books and the Bible. We started saving to take down our debt and save up for what ever God might have planned.

We prayed.

We searched.

Then we saw that the English Language Centre in Kyiv, Ukraine that I had spent a year volunteering at in her early 20s was in need of two volunteers to teach ESL and help out at the local english church. Feeling impressed to apply, we prayed and sent through an application.

We were accepted.

The remaining months of 2008 was filled with saving up, packing up, storing our stuff in my parent’s backyard shed (which we helped to build), paying off debts, selling a car, and finishing up with our jobs. All in the middle of when the Global Financial Crisis hit in 2008. God really has a great sense of timing. In the end we had just enough money for everything we needed including a one-way flight to Ukraine.

Building our storage shed.

Throughout this whole experience we kept coming back to the Bible verse in Joshua 24:15, “…Choose this day for yourselves this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” We wanted to put everything in God’s hands. To give Him a year to say:

“Our lives are yours. Lead us where you want us. Everything we have is yours.”

So, on January 1, 2009 we got on a plane. Never having sung together. Clueless to what God would do within the next year.  Full of excitement. Full of peace. We couldn’t wait for this adventure to begin!

To be continued…
~ Monique

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The beauty of living in Australia is going on a winter tour and being able to do this…

We are a quarter way through our 2014 winter tour and have already been astounded by the providential things that God has pre arranged. For example…

- 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.

- 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 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.

We can’t wait to see what God has in store for us on the rest of our tour!

Winter Tour 2014

If you would like follow our #wintertour14, we update more often on the following social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

Please keep us in your prayers.
- Eric & Monique


GYC Europe 2014
We have some exciting news to share!

We are going to GYC Europe in Linz, Austria this July.

At the start of the year we felt impressed to put in an application to be one of the music groups to share music at GYC Europe. Before applying we prayed, trusting that if God opened the doors we would go, even though we do not have the upfront money to cover all the expenses. God has opened the doors. So, we will go!

Since going into full-time music ministry, that runs on faith without charging fees, we have lived from ‘tour to tour’ (i.e. We get enough money from each tour to pay our ministry & living expenses until the next tour). This lifestyle has exercised our faith. We have seen in the past that every time we have stepped out in faith, God has provided the money through concert love offerings and CD sales for our expenses. So, with our plane tickets ‘ticked up’ on the credit card, we are off to GYC Europe to be one of the musician groups sharing music throughout the conference.

We are also planning a one week intensive European tour, read more about that below.

Europe Tour 2014

Europe Tour 2014

After GYC Europe we are planning an intensive music ministry tour throughout Germany & Austria from July 28 - August 5, 2014. While it is during the summer holidays, we believe that God will provide many dates to share the gospel through word & song. We have already had some interest from churches in Germany, but if you live in the areas outlined below, or know people who do, we still need your help to fill out the tour. The following is our current planned tour route. These are not confirmed concerts, but are the areas we would like to book in a concert.

** UPDATED ** July 20, 2014

Europe Tour 2014

We are open to concerts in other areas within Germany & Austria, dependant on travel times. If you can help, please email us and we will give you more information about church concerts, house concerts and music-sermons for church services.

Thank you for your support, it means so much to us!
- Eric & Monique

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