Uncovering the Dutch Underground

It all came together last month as I walked up a cobblestone street, looked for the number 4, and knocked. It was a cold night seventy-two years ago when 8 Gestapo soldiers approached the very spot where I was standing. They were disgusted and angry. The couple inside were helping the “inferior” race they were trying to kill. They had killed so many already, but that night they were intent on destroying someone else. Someone standing in their way, my Opa.

I had heard the stories many times as a girl. I always reveled in the miracle that happened that night, and the brave front my Oma put on as she opened the door and was shoved aside. I had often tried to picture the room they rushed into, and all that had happened that night.

But today was different. Today I had a chance to see it, and feel it and to know. Together with my brother Ian, and his daughters Ashley and Michaela, I had crossed the ocean to find pieces of our history that were fading into the past.

It was a year ago that the Brinkman writing team decided to tell the story of Reng and Lynn VanKesteren. My grandparents who risked their lives to rescue Jews during WWII. Their story stands like bedrock in my soul, providing a deep conviction that faith and goodness can prevail in a time of evil and violence.

After a year of researching, interviewing and digging into the past, I found myself humbled, awed, and grateful beyond words to be able to travel there and see it for myself.

I stepped through the door frame my Oma had crossed as they dragged her off to prison.  Touched the rough stone that was cold as my Opa hid. I looked up into the big trees behind their house, the trees that saw so much heartache and bravery during those years. The trees my Oma loved.
That moment is forever burned into my mind. It was surreal and almost holy.

The rest of the trip was a whirlwind, like a dream. We found treasures of the past coming alive everywhere we went. We worked hard to cast and direct actors who played out the story with gusto and joy.

I can’t wait to hear this treasured story come to life and be able to share it with you this fall!

Sarah Bultman
Writer-The Brinkman Adventures

The doorway they drug her through

The park and the trees she loved

Audio Drama Discipline?

home, technology and music concept - little girl with headphones at home

These days it seems many Christian kids are seriously into their audio dramas.   I even heard of one parent who punished her child by not letting him listen to his favorite show…. about missionaries!   When she took away his CD for the night he wailed like he’d lost his arm!

A few years ago I had an interesting exchange with one of our daughters.

Me:  “So…. what’s your favorite movie?”
Michaela:  “Jane Eyre……”
“How many times have you watched it?”
“Probably twenty times”
“And what’s your favorite audio drama?”
“The Secret Garden”  (Focus on the Family Radio Theatre)
“How many times have you listened to that?” (She hedged with an embarrassed little smile)
“I don’t know…..”
Just give me a rough estimate…”
“At least….. two hundred times….”

Two Hundred????   And Michaela is a visual learner.  If I had asked her sister Ashley, our auditory kid, I bet audio drama would have scored even higher.   So what gives?  Why twenty views versus two hundred listens?   It’s an interesting question.  As a forty-something year old dad who has been observing his kids consume audio drama for the better part of their lives, I have an idea.  While not exhaustive, here’s my list:

First, they are just flat out fun to listen to.   Some may require a little concentration to get into, but once hooked, you’ll stay on the line until the closing credits.  Next, a good audio drama is like a favorite song – it never grows old.   You can listen over and over.  It also doesn’t become dated by tacky clothes and bad hair.  In fact, sometimes it even gets better with time.   Another big plus is radio drama offers more versatility than video.  One can listen to an episode while driving, working, lying in bed with the lights off or while gathered around the radio with the family.  Finally, audio dramas make us think.  They force us to use and develop our imagination.  We actually become co-producers and co-creators along with the writer, and there is something very attractive about that.  These and other reasons contribute to audio theaters’ current resurgence in popularity.

Here’s an interesting fact:  My daughter’s favorite movie had a budget of $28 million.  Her favorite audio drama had a budget a fraction of that. This is wonderful news!  It means we can create great material at a reasonable cost.  And in fact, more producers are coming to this realization.   I believe we in the midst of an audio drama renaissance of sorts, especially in Christian circles.  Adventures in Odyssey, Jonathan Park, Heirloom Audio Productions, Lamp Lighter Theater and our show Brinkman Adventures are all proof positive.  And with the advent of podcasts, secular producers are also beginning to jump on the bandwagon.  I’m expecting the choice to consumers will only grow in the coming years.

Audio dramas pack a serious teaching punch while remaining hugely entertaining.   As a parent and home educator, if you are not already doing so, take advantage of this form of story telling that stimulates the theater of the mind!  And if your family has yet to discover this wonderful audio world, trust me – your ears, minds and hearts are in for a real treat!  And you also may just discover a creative new tool for discipline!

Ian Bultman
Producer of Brinkman Adventures

Where the Mission Begins

Girl in the airport

I sat in a daze, my mind stuck in the fog that comes after flying halfway across the world.  I was on my way to Tanzania on a mission trip, but I found myself on a layover in Qatar, the small but wealthy country near Dubai.

As I sat there the haze lifted and was replaced by a hollow sense of being oddly out of place.

I was in the Middle East surrounded by people quite different from me. Off to the left stood a group of Saudi men dressed in red and white headdresses.   At one time headdresses reminded me of our annual Christmas play.  Today they accompany disturbing images burned into my mind from recent news reports.

A man ahead of me was dressed in a white robe with a black tassel hanging low from his carefully draped headdress. He seemed powerful and important. I blinked, was I really here? I pulled my bag in close to me.

This place ran by a different set of rules, many of which I had probably already broke.
What did this man believe about God, the world, and me as an American?  I checked my watch to see when my flight left and then felt regret for the action.  I wasn’t feeling like a good missionary.   There I was, feeling uneasy, just wishing I could be in a place that thought more like me.

That’s when it dawned on me.  I could choose the reality in which I would live:  God’s reality or man’s reality.     If I chose man’s reality, the uneasiness would win.  It would cause me to bow to the seriousness in the air.  I would give in to the thinking of “You better be perfect or you are in trouble.”   Man’s reality doesn’t believe one can experience an intimate relationship with God through the death of His Son.  Most in that airport did not understand the depth of the sacrifice He made to rescue us. They didn’t believe it is even possible to get off the tread mill of performing in order to gain God’s acceptance.

But God’s reality says something different!  God’s reality stays this all this is possible.  That I AM loved.   So in that moment I actively choose to live in the reality of my Father.  I sat and rejoiced for no other reason than the fact that He was right there with me.  I felt exhilaration the moment I chose to live in God’s reality.  I suddenly felt like I was wrapped in a warm blanket. Even though I was alone in a place I don’t understand, I was safe, and as a result, I had love to give those around me.

As I reflect on that experience, it occurs to me that I often allow other people’s perception of reality color my thinking. But I’m not from here! My reality is not drawn from the country I’m in at the moment.  It’s not even drawn from my country of origin.  I live by the laws and realities of Heaven!  We’re not from here. We get to be different.  We get to walk around with confidence when others might squirm. We can smile when those around us complain.  We have the ability to love when others would hide!

For me, this is where missions begins.  It starts when I wake up and realize I am an ambassador for a King and hold citizenship in a very good country; a kingdom that is coming and has come. A place and reality I am privileged to carry with me in my heart.

And where I take that Kingdom? That is the adventure!

Sarah Bultman
Writer-The Brinkmann Adventures