Abide Family Ministries talk about their ministry and music for children and their families

Rob and Kimberly Houliston.

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Abide Family Ministries is a self-supporting Christian music/media ministry run by Rob and Kimberly Houliston. Abide produces music and media content which is aired on many Christian TV networks, including the “Arnie’s Shack” series, a puppet-based program designed to spread the good news of Jesus to children and their families around the world. They talked with Bookshelf about their ministry.

What is your background to this ministry?

Rob worked for 34 years as a fitter and turner. He took a voluntary redundancy in order to have time and finances to build the new studio. Rob also builds and constructs sets and does the majority of the puppetry as the voice of Arnie, Shane and numerous other puppet characters.

Kimberly has a Masters in Special Education and works full-time as a learning and support teacher. Self-taught in video editing, audio engineering, filming and other aspects of production. Kimberly writes all the songs, scripts, records vocals, video edits, films and produces all the Arnie’s Shack programs.

Abide produces all it’s own programming on site with it’s own recording studio. It is currently expanding its facilities and constructing a new 10 x 10 metre film/sound studio, control room and video editing suite to add to its vocal booth and which will facilitate both Abide programming and be available to other producers wishing to create Christian content.

Where did the idea of Arnie’s Shack begin?

Back in 2001, I was just leaning how to video edit—and becoming frustrated. I asked God what I really should be doing. At that point, I picked up my dust-covered guitar, sat down . . . and wrote a song. The next day, I wrote another song, and songs just kept on poring out. Just three months later, the first album Reach for Jesus was being recorded on CD.

Our journey has gone on from there. As a family we have all been committed to following where God has been leading us. There have been lots of good times, many tough times, numerous twists and turns . . . way out of my comfort zone, doing things I had no idea I could do. But time and time again it has been proven true that if God has called you to do something, He will give you the skills or the people to help you to do it.

Tell us about Arnie as a character.

Arnie, the host, is a puppet character, depicting a wise old and sometimes humorous Australian farmer. He lives at Arnie’s Shack with his wife Doreen, and he loves getting up early to feed the animals on his farm. Arnie’s favourite pastime is talking to God and reading His Word. Arnie loves to teach children positive Christian values in a fun and interactive way, addressing important issues and values that children and families are daily confronted with. Arnie’s main focus is to let everyone know that Jesus wants to be their best friend.

What do your travels to different places in the Pacific add to your ministry?

Travelling has given us the opportunity to meet and network with some amazing people. We have also been able to support resource and mentor many people. We have run training workshops, worships, concerts and other events in many Pacific countries. We have seen first-hand the needs that many in the Pacific have and worked with locals to resource them with skills and equipment so they can also share Jesus love in their own countries. We have also had students from both Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands who have become part of our family, living with us and playing vital roles in helping us with our ministry.

What do you hope that children gain from watching your programs or listening to the music?

Easy question—that Jesus wants to be their best friend. 

“Arnie’s Shack” DVDs and CDs are available from Adventist Book Centres in Australia and New Zealand and around the South Pacific.

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