Unusual journey leads to cross-cultural adventure
By Kayla Rinker
WASHBURN – When Jim Erwin left for Germany on a mission trip eight years ago, he had no idea he would soon meet the woman who would become his wife … but God did.
God also knew that the couple’s cross-cultural life together would one day evolve into a remarkable witness for Him; and that that testimony would be available in print in 2008 for others to enjoy.
2=1: A Cross-Cultural Adventure was written by both Erwin and his wife, Heike. Published by Golden Triangle Publications, LLC, the book describes the couple’s life together while living and ministering in two very different countries. It also tells about Heike’s up and down battle with lupus and the couple’s earnest prayer for a new kidney, an “adventure” that Erwin describes as a true testament to God and His unfailing love.
“The book is really seven years in the making,” Erwin said. “We have experienced God and felt his blessing and we just want this book to be a witness for that.”
The adventure starts in Yoakum, Texas, in 2000, where Erwin was the pastor at Hope Baptist Church. His association’s director of missions contacted him about joining a mission trip to Germany. At that time there was a partnership between Texas and Germany Baptists.
“It was my first mission trip as a pastor and so the International Mission Board offered to pay one-third of the cost,” Erwin said. “I don’t know if they still do that now, but they did then.”
After receiving the rest of the support from his own church, Erwin headed to Germany with a group of other pastors and laymen.
Toward the end of the week-long mission trip, Erwin was asked to speak to about 20 people who were part of a home group ministry. Following his speech he asked the audience if they had any questions.
“A woman sitting near the back kept asking question after question,” Erwin said. “So many, in fact, I was thinking to myself, ‘Were you even listening?’ We got to talking afterward and that’s when she told me she was diagnosed with lupus and that she was on dialysis because she had lost her kidney. Heike and I prayed together that night and I thought that was probably the last I would see of her.”
However, that was not what God had in mind. Heike showed up at the German church that next Sunday and the two were able to exchange e-mail addresses before Erwin flew back to Texas.
After a most unorthodox courtship that started as medical updates and prayer requests via email and ended with Heike visiting the United States for the Christmas season, all of which is detailed in the book, Jim and Heike picked out rings and were engaged.
“It was just clear that God was putting us together,” Erwin said. “And all along during this time we were in constant prayer for a kidney.”
That prayer was finally answered when one of Heike’s good friends from church, Simone Freudemann, offered to donate one of her kidneys. Of course, transplants and surgeries are complicated in Germany just like in any other country. A surgery that was supposed to take place in September of 2001 was delayed to February 2002. The book highlights many of the highs and lows that occurred as a result of this long process.
“But it was a wonderful success and we were married a short time later on April 27,” Erwin said.
After spending a short time back at Jim’s home church in Yoakum, the Erwins decided to move to Germany where Jim eventually found an English-speaking church to pastor.
“It was originally founded for English-speaking military families residing in Germany,” Erwin said. “But a lot of the congregation included cross-cultural couples who wanted to find a common language to worship. Over 25 nations were represented in that church.”
After many other blessings and struggles that the book mentions in detail, the Erwins decided to move to Missouri to help children through adoption and foster care and also to help Jim’s father, Glenn, who is pastor at First Baptist Church in Washburn.
“To make a long story short, it was just not possible to adopt or foster in Germany,” Erwin said. “We have been in Washburn for about a year now and have really been excited to see what God is doing there. It has also been a great blessing to have two foster children; two girls, ages five and six.”
The Erwins are excited about this book and being able to share their unique story with the world.
“We are hoping to share the love of Jesus with those who don’t know Him (by) using this book,” Erwin said.
To order a copy of the book, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://heikeerwin.blogspot.com.