Wow! You prayed and God answered!

Thank you so much for praying!

God heard our prayers for our French tests and we did really well!  While we just missed the “Tres Bien” (Very Good) mark, we did get the highest score in the class.  Even our professor was impressed by our results.  Of course, we thank God for the ability to learn the language and understand it.  He has really blessed us with an ability to grasp concepts that others seem to struggle with.  Thanks to Him for this gift!  We have officially graduated to B1 level (Intermediate) and, according to our professor, we are no longer beginners.  (But it still feels like we’re beginners sometimes…)

We’ve been enjoying a break before classes start up next week.  We were able to entertain a handful of friends who came by, which was really refreshing to us.  Thanks to Jacob and Annet from the Netherlands, Greg and Kori from the Czech Republic, and Sarah from the USA!

August in France presented us with a challenging question: What to do when we have no money, no car, and two little children unable to sit still for any length of time?  The answer: Get on our bikes and go camping!  We’ve been seeing some of France the cheap and easy way, taking our time going between towns and letting the little ones run around at any parks we may happen across.  It was a great time!  We covered 150 or so miles.  We saw beautiful country and ended at the ocean.  We made sure to use our French every day as a sort of language exercise and we discovered that we can actually communicate – how cool!

Prayer Requests
There are some issues that have been weighing heavily on us lately and we wanted to ask you for your prayers for guidance and wisdom.  This has been something brewing for a while, but it was finally made official to us a couple days ago: Africa Inland Mission finally shut the door for us to minister in the Central African Republic.  In the opinion of many, including contacts on the ground there, the situation in the CAR after the latest coup is still too dangerous and unstable for a new family to settle there.  While the future will obviously bring new reports, right now and for the near future the organization will not allow a family to go there.

Like we said, this was a real blow.  We had been praying and expecting that God would open a way for us to be there.  But the final word right now is “No.”  It’s a little disappointing, to say the least.

Africa Inland Mission has offered us positions in other places, and now we’re praying and considering a couple of them.  Please pray with us that God would direct our steps.

Our top two choices are as follows:

  1. Chad.  In the center of Africa with a population of 12 million, it is landlocked but open to ministry.  AIM already has a handful of families on the ground in Chad.  The majority of people are unreached, but with a sizable Christian minority among some tribes, there are several options in Chad with either church planting work, discipleship work, and/or Bible translation work.

  2. Mayotte.  A French territory in the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and the African mainland.  Among its 200,000 people, 99% are unreached, but thanks to French governance, it is open to missionaries.  The work here would be evangelism/church planting work among a persistently hard people.

These are the main choices before us.  Please pray that God would guide our choice.  We have a little while to decide, but as the year winds down, we will have to make a decision one way or another.  Our French classes are scheduled to be finished at the end of December, we will need to know our next destination before then.  Of course, this is always a hard decision, and one that we would rather make with the support of loved ones and church members around us.  We feel a little like Abraham, when God said, “Get up and leave your country… and go to a place I will show you.”  We’ve done the first part, but still waiting for God to show us where to go!

Thanks for your partnership in all this!  If you want to know more details about our two choices, just send us an email.  We love your prayers and your encouragements.  Keep praying for us!

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Summer Update

We hope that your summer is going well and you had a great 4th of July. If you’re ever wondering if there is a 4th of July in France, there is – but they don’t celebrate it… Their “National” day is July 14.

We’re doing fine and everyday we’re progressing a little bit more in French. It’s exciting to be able to understand more and more of what people are saying! In fact, the other day the girls were watching cartoons in French (they don’t care which language cartoons are in!) and Juli said, “Hey, I can understand what ‘Dora L’exploratrice’ is saying!” So, great, our understanding in French is on par with toddlers! It gives a new meaning to ‘baby steps’, huh? Anyways, it was encouraging for us to see that we are making progress.
(Above: Eric’s language partner, Arezki, shows the family a good time in Beaufort, France.)

Thanks for all your prayers in the past months. God has been watching over us and helping us each and every day.

We would really love your prayers for the next few weeks. There are several things we need prayer for:

  1. Our next set of exams is coming up July 18-23. Everything is cumulative and the tests can be rather rigorous. Please pray that God would help us remember and recall everything that we have learned. If we pass these exams, we will graduate to level B1 (you can google “Common European Framework” for an explanation). Our goal is to be at least at level B2 before we leave… but that depends on a number of things.
  2. We are starting to get “language fatigue”. Maybe it’s the heat of the summer in southern France (and no air-conditioning) or maybe it’s a little bit of culture shock, or maybe something else, but there are days when the last thing we want to do is learn French – or even speak it, for that matter. Pray that God would renew us day by day and give us the heart and the energy to learn a new language.
  3. Please continue to pray that God would give us wisdom about the future. The situation in the Central African Republic is a huge question mark that continues to loom over us. We’ve been told to be flexible and we’ve been given several different options for ministry after we leave France, but everything is so uncertain. If only God would give us a Macedonian vision like He gave Paul (Acts 16:9), but, alas, He hasn’t yet. So all we do right now is continue to stay the course and trust that He will guide us in His timing.

(Above: The family takes a bike trip through the vineyards!)

Thanks for all your prayers and encouragement!

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Thanks to everyone who prayed for us last month. Our four days of exams went smoothly. We eagerly awaited the results to see if our first three months of language study had been effective or not. Finally, the results were out: We passed! The professor’s note on our report slip was “Tres bien! Continue comme ca!” (Very good! Keep going like that!) A “Tres Bien” on your grade is the envy of everyone here; “Bien” (Good) is common; and pity the person who has “C’est dommage” (It’s a shame) written on theirs. So, we did better than we expected and we want to thank God for helping us get this far in our studies.

We’re excited that we’ve reached a point where we can actually start understanding people in public. We still have a long ways to go to be even reasonably proficient in French, but the progress so far is encouraging. It’s even more encouraging when we compare ourselves from the first day to now. We came here speaking little to no French and now we can have short conversations, describe likes and dislikes, and ask basic directions.

Thanks for all your prayers as we do this. God has been answering them. He answered our prayers during the test, and he is still answering more prayers. One of our prayers has been to have French people to talk to who will be patient with us as we learn how to speak. And God, in true form to His providence, has given each of us language partners who are native French-speakers and who are excited to help us learn French. Please pray that God would use these relationships to help us grow not just in language ability, but in wisdom and character too!

News out of Central Africa

Finally, there is bad news coming out of Africa right now. About 6 or 7 weeks ago, the government of the Central African Republic was overthrown by rebels. It is something that had been brewing for several months and it finally came to pass. Almost all of the missionaries have left the CAR right now because lawlessness is the rule and missionaries are targets of looting or worse. The current situation is grim and the near future isn’t much better. The general feeling by those who understand the situation is that it could be a while (several months or more) before things get sorted out and a long time before peace and stability return to the C.A.R. As you know, we have had Central Africa in our sights for a couple of years now. The latest news is something of a blow to our hopes of bringing the gospel there very soon. We don’t know all the ramifications of the recent events, but we have been informed to “be flexible”. We’re struggling to understand God’s leading in this, but, as is often the case, the light of His guidance only shines a couple steps ahead of us and we must follow by faith. It may be that God has led us thus far to bring us to a place only He knows where. We want to ask you to especially pray with us about our future in Africa. Africa Inland Mission has open positions in other countries and if the door to the CAR is closed, we will have to consider a different posting. Please pray that we would have the faith to follow God as He leads us step by step, whether that be the CAR or somewhere else in Africa.

Thank you for all your prayers and encouragement! God still answers prayer and we can testify to that!

We’ll keep you updated as events unfold.

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Language Learning in France… and other things

It’s been a little while since we last wrote, so we wanted to bring you to up to date on what’s been happening in our lives:

Language School in France

On January 1, we landed in France and began the overland journey to Albertville, France, which will be our home for the next year. Albertville is a sleepy little city nestled in the French Alps. Its only claim to fame is that they were hosts to the 1992 Winter Olympics. Even though it’s been 21 years since then, they still revel in their past and evidence of the Olympics is all around us, from the hockey rink, to the stadium, to the snow capped mountains whenever we look up. It’s nice to be here and be able use Albertville as our base for learning French.

Eric and Juli in the French Alps, Mont Blanc is in the background.

Our language school, Centre Chretien d’Enseignement du Francais, has been around for about 50 years and in that time more than 2000 students have left here prepared to minister in the French-speaking world. For us, we tested into the “Debutante” level. That’s the beginner level and the methodology is more or less sink-or-swim. So far, we’ve been able to keep our heads above the water, but it’s humbling when you know that you speak caveman French, and it sounds like, “Me want food!”

Six hours per day of French, plus more interaction with folks around town, and we know that it will eventually come. One of our more useful terms is, “Repetez, s’il vous plait…” which means, “Repeat, please…” We’ve gotten a lot of milage out of that! Thankfully, the school has a good reputation around town and most people have been willing to be patient with us as we try out our new language on them.

Arielle and Elysia play in Olympic Park, Alberville.

Update on the Central African Republic

In our last update, we asked you to pray for the situation in the Central African Republic. The situation was tense, rebels were moving in on the capital, the US Embassy had closed as a precautionary measure, and it looked like the country was about to suffer yet another coup d’etat. Some of the missionaries on the ground opted to leave, others went to places outside the capital where there would be less disruption and less violence. But many people all over the world were praying and we can thank God that the government and the rebels have managed to work out their differences. Disaster has been averted and life is returning to normal. Isn’t God good in the way that He answers prayer!

In training for the 'Tour de France'.

Note on Kenya

We wanted to ask for some special prayer for Kenya. We have a lot of friends in Kenya and there will always be a special place in our hearts for Kenya. On Monday, March 4, Kenya will have their presidential elections. The last election was held more than 5 years ago and it resulted in massive bloodshed and violence. In 2008, more than 1000 people lost their lives and tens of thousands were uprooted from their homes. 5 years later, the country still hasn’t completely healed and the underlying issues of tribalism and corruption have not been resolved. Please take a minute on Monday to pray for Kenya that the elections would be peaceful and that God would spare the country from more destruction.

Our Prayer Requests

We would appreciate your prayers, too! We’ve managed to settle into life in France and we’re in the thick of language school.

  • Pray for us that God would open our minds, open our ears, and untwist our tongues so we can speak French. There are days that are especially frustrating, so pray that God would also encourage us and give us the determination to press on. Our goal is to leave here at the upper-intermediate level which means we have a lot of work to do!
  • Pray also that we would stay spiritually vibrant and alive. Since we are at the very beginning of our new language, it’s difficult to minister among the French people, at least with words, but we know that this is where God has us right now and we don’t want to waste opportunities to be His witnesses.
  • Finally, pray that God would continue to be Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord who provides. We’re learning to trust Him to provide for us, but it’s a battle and it’s so easy for us to get stressed about things that are beyond our control. Our desire is to know and experience Him as our Heavenly Father, trusting Him for everything we need.

    Eric and Julie in a ski village.

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Prayer Opportunities

December 31, 2012

Only three days until we leave! We wanted to send a quick note to ask for your prayers as we get ready for the next chapter of our lives. On Monday we’ll fly out of Minneapolis, somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean we’ll celebrate the New Year, and Tuesday morning we’ll land in Paris, France. From there it will be another plane and train ride to our final destination of Albertville, France for French language school. Classes start for us on Monday, January 7, so we’ll have a couple days to adjust to the time-change and the new setting for us. Please pray for us as we travel, it’s a long journey in a land we don’t understand and we won’t speak the language – at least not yet!. Pray also that our girls, Arielle and Elysia, would cope with the travel well and wouldn’t show their sin-nature too badly as they get tired and confused by the journey. We’re looking forward to this new chapter of our lives, but we’re also anxious about all the new changes. We know that God is watching over us in all of this.

Rebel Movement in the C.A.R.

We also wanted you to pray for the Central African Republic. There is a rebel movement that is trying to move towards the capital, Bangui. As of this morning, the US Embassy evacuated all non-essential personnel and recommends that all citizens in the country remain extremely vigilant about the rapidly changing situation.

The C.A.R. has been persistently unstable in a region that is notoriously unstable. In all of these trials, we rest in God’s promise that He will take care of His children. He is not unaware of what is happening and nothing is too big for Him to fix. Pray with us that God would watch over His people in the CAR and that He would use these present circumstances as He did with Joseph in Egypt and turn them into something good and better for the people of the Central African Republic.

Thanks for all your prayers and support. We’re it not for you, we wouldn’t be able to do this!

Your friends in Christ,


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Great Is His Faithfulness!

The Faithful One

One of the Bible verses that has given us encouragement over the years is 1 Thessalonians 5:24. It says, “The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.” There were times when things would continually go wrong, people would fail us, plans would dissolve, and the future looked bleak. In those times you just want to give up, throw in the towel and say, “Maybe we had it all wrong…” But the promises of God kept us going, how could we lose faith when God promises to be faithful? Over and over, God would reward our perseverance in those hard times with awesome joy, mighty miracles, and His gracious goodness.

Yet again He has shown His goodness and faithfulness to us! We have gotten the go-ahead from the Mission headquarters to start making plans to fly out in January! We are so excited!

What does it mean?

Does this mean that everything is set in place for us to go? Not exactly. The mission took a look at our current support and pledges and was confident that 100% will come in by the end of the year. The key word is “confident”. We’re confident that God will keep His promises to do it, to bring to maturity the dream He planted in our hearts.

Julianne in a market

Julianne at a market in Central Africa

What needs to be done?

There are still things that need to be done. Please pray for us that the last little bit of support will come in. There are still a few small gaps in our funding, especially for language school. Our prayer is that the gaps would be filled in by men and women who want to see the Gospel spread across Africa. We won’t go to Africa partially funded, that doesn’t honor God and it handicaps us. Rather, we’re trusting that we’ll be 100+% funded so that God can be glorified and the Gospel proclaimed even further.

Eric and the boys

John Kinoti, Mike Tsalwa, Eric Wildgen, and George Mburu -- BFF!

The exciting thing is that God will do it! Isn’t He our heavenly Father who delights in giving good gifts to His children? Yes, He is! And so we rest satisfied in Him, knowing that He is not capricious, He’s not a weakling, and He’s not liar. As Romans 8:37 says, when we are on Jesus’ side we already are “more than conquerors”!

Fulani youngsters

Some Fulani youngsters outside a house in Central Africa.

What now?

We’re busy now getting ourselves arranged to travel after the New Year. We need your prayers that things will come together for us in the next five weeks.

Here are some specific prayer points: 1. Pray that we’re fully funded by the end of the year. 2. The visa process for language school is tedious, pray for favor from the relevant authorities who grant long-stay visas. 3. Packing and saying goodbye, pray for our emotional and spiritual well-being in this time of transition, saying goodbye, the holidays, etc. 4. Pray for God’s hand on us that we can be instruments of hope and light to the world around us, whether in America, Europe, Africa, or wherever God may have us!

Gathering at the well

There is water, and then there is spiritual water through Jesus Christ.

Thank you so much for standing with us and praying for us! We are truly blessed to call you friends.

Your friends in Christ,


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The Eternal Prize

As I write this, we are in the thick of an electoral race where there will be elated winners and deflated losers. Through it all, we’ve seen all the good and bad of human nature when people strive for power. No matter who is declared the winner at the end of all this, as believers in Jesus Christ we know that there is prize far greater than any election victory can bring: It is the the eternal prize – salvation from our sin through Jesus Christ!

Some young Fulani boys and girls.

This is the message so much of the world longs to hear, yet so few have made it their life-mission to bring this good news to the unreached. Over and over again, God has confirmed His call on our lives to take the Gospel to the people of Africa. Our response is summed up perfectly in Romans 15:20, “It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known…”

Eric and Julianne in the C.A.R.

Right now, we’re preparing to head back overseas in January 2013. That’s not too far away. In the last few months, we’ve been all around the United States (and on the radio!), sharing the vision and recruiting ministry partners who will stand with us in bring the gospel to the unreached of Africa. But the work of raising up partners is not finished. We still need men and women who will make a decision to stand with us to reach the unreached of Africa.

We are looking for people who can partner through giving. It is through partners like you that we are able to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to Africa. Currently, we are at about 60% of our total out-going funds target. We are at roughly 95% of our monthly-support target. We need to be at 100% of both targets by the end of November if we are to leave in January! You can help with one or both of these things!

Fulani men listen to the Gospel in their own language!

We also need prayer partners who can bring the issues of the ministry before the throne of God in a regular and systematic way. Central Africa is a spiritually dark place and the light of the Jesus Christ will not advance without the people of God interceding for that place. Can you commit to pray for us and for the ministry in Africa? Will you commit to pray for us for the next 4 weeks that God would provide for us, that He would move the hearts of men and women to support the ministry?

"The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few..." Pray for more workers!

We need your prayers and we need your partnership!

Let us know how you can help!

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Move Against the Fear

Sometimes, when we are called to obey, the fear does not subside, and we are expected to move against the fear.  One must choose to do it afraid.

-Elizabeth Elliot.

Move Against the Fear from AIM On-Field Media on Vimeo.

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The Nudge of God

Last weekend, we had the privilege of worshiping with the great folks at Minooka Bible Church.  Pastor Arol had a great sermon on listening to God and heeding the nudges of God.   In the middle of the sermon, Arol asked Eric to share how he was led of God to go to the mission field.  The excerpt of the sermon interview is here.


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Central African Republic? Where????

With all the problems that exist in Central Africa, why go there? This problem has been posed to us many times. Is the reason just to get someone to change his religion? Is it to bring ‘civilization’ there, to get them to wear newer and better clothes, build better houses, grow better crops, and live a healthier life? While all of these things are desirable, they are not the reason for missionary service.

When the paralytic man was brought to Jesus by his friends, everyone knew that he needed healing. But Jesus said to him, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” Jesus knew that what the man needed most was to be saved from his sins. The situation hasn’t changed up to today. What men and women need most is to be saved and to be reconciled to God.

Our message is one of reconciliation, as 2 Corinthians 5 tells us, “…if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”

What are we doing in Africa? We are sharing the Good News that Jesus Christ has come to take away your sins and restore you to a right relationship with God. How could bringing civilization, building houses, planting crops, or distributing food ever top that? Everything else pales in comparison to the greatest news of all.

Fulani man with his family.

A Fulani man and his family whom we spent an afternoon with in the C.A.R.

Central Africa is home to hundreds of tribes, many of them have yet to hear the message of Jesus Christ. One of these tribes is the Fulani. The Fulani are a ‘mega-people’ group, they number in excess of 30 million and stretch from Senegal in West Africa to Sudan in East Africa. 99% of Fulanis have never heard about Jesus Christ. In the Central African Republic, there are thousands of Fulanis who need to hear this Good News and we believe God has called us to bring it to them.

Fulani Map

The Fulani are spread across Africa.

The bulk of this year has been devoted to preparing ourselves to return to Africa. We have been preparing mentally and spiritually for a difficult field. We are also recruiting others who will be able to stand with us in the ministry. We desperately need prayer partners and resource partners. Central Africa has long had a reputation of being spiritually dark. It is not easy to pierce the darkness unless there is a band of prayer partners who can bring Africa’s needs to the throne of God in a systematic and regular way. Can you be one of those prayer partners?

Market in Kenzou

The market in Kenzou doesn't have much to offer in terms of fresh produce -- just some veggies and tomatoes.

On top of the spiritual needs, there are plenty of physical needs. Central Africa is an undeveloped and difficult place to live. Being landlocked, everything must be imported through other countries and the further inland you are, the more things cost. Contrary to what you might expect, life is rather expensive in central Africa. Because of this, we also need additional partners who can help to defray the costs of living in Africa. Can you help us with the material support we need to be on the ground there? There is no magic number that will help – everything and anything will help. Some people have committed $25/month, others $50, and others $100 or more per month. Everything helps and nothing is taken for granted. This is a team effort and we need you to be a part of it.

Our hope and prayer is that we can leave for overseas in January 2013. Right now our monthly support sits at about 60% ($2900 of $4900). Please pray for us that God would move the hearts of men and women to stand with us both prayerfully and financially!

Eric prays for a Fulani man.

Eric had a chance to pray for healing for this Fulani man who was injured in a motorcycle accident.

If you want to be a prayer partner and can commit to regular and systematic prayer on the behalf of Africa and us, let us know. If you can support us financially, click here and/or let us know and we’ll tell you how you can begin that process. If you want to know more, want to get together with us, or would like us to present the ministry to your church/cell group/friends/relatives, just send us an email and we’ll organize something!

We love you and we need your partnership in this great endeavor!

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