How We Became Musicianaries - Part 2
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...
~ Monique * 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