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Last Edited: 29 February 2020


Esther Penner

About The Penner Girls

My first mission trip was when I was in high school.  We went to Southeast Asia for 5 weeks, where I was sick for 4 of those weeks.  I told God after that trip, that I would go anywhere He would send me – except for hot areas.  The Lord in His humor had me marry Phil and sent our family of three (Phil, Anna our 6 month old, and myself) to a different country in Southeast Asia to pursue church planting.  Almost two years into being overseas, Phil got sick and died.  Anna and I went back to the Chicago area where we were from and spent an year there healing.  A year after Phil’s death, Anna and I went back to the country we were serving for another two years.  After that, I went to get my Master’s in Counseling Ministries at Trinity International School while Anna entered Kindergarten.  After receiving my masters, I began working with a mission organization in Florida working with Third Culture Kids (TCKs) for a couple years.  These past three years we have been in the Chicago area where I have been teaching.  Woah – that was a very quick summary of the Penner Girls’ history.

Over the past several years God has helped me work through the Korean American part of my life. I grew up in a Korean American Immigrant family, which has its joys and pains. Throughout these years, I have read books, talked with people, went to counseling and spent time journaling about what God was revealing to me about culture and how that played and continues to play in my journey in following Christ.  Who knew that all those experiences and my internal work with my growing up years would bring me to where we are now?  God did!!  He planned my life and Anna’s life so that each of those life experiences became a stepping stone to have us arrive to where we are now.


As I looked into going overseas again, I knew I wanted to use my counseling skills, but stay on a school schedule – fits my passion as a person, but also as a single mom.

Ministry Focus

In Kandern, a small town in Germany, there is an international school called Black Forest Academy (BFA). This school is mostly for Missionary Kids (MKs) with a few business and military families. The mission of this school is to “help families stay on the field through affordable Christian education”. I will be an Asian Care Coordinator for the school, basically a school counselor for the Asian students. The school serves missionaries from around the world and about 20% of the population of the students are from Asian passport countries or parents of Asian descent. From the 20% of the Asian population, about 95% are Korean. Have you ever had times where you felt like you were made just for this? I feel that about this role: God had me grow up as a Korean American, experience missions, go to school for counseling, work with Third Culture Kids (TCKs), be a mom and most importantly experience Christ love and grace in my life.

Anna as well has been made just for this. She has been for years suggesting places we should go and serve. If she heard of a need, she would tell me how I would be a good fit for that or create ways we could be a part of a ministry. This time, I think God called Anna overseas before He called me. For that I am thankful. I am so thankful she is so excited to go. She affirms me often of how she knows that I will be good for this job and how I will be really good for the students there. Where I also see she is going to be a great asset to the student body with who God made her to be.


  • We have been accepted and attended our first training with TEAM!!
  • We are starting our journey of raising partners and see God’s hand at work already!!
  • We are confident in God’s goodness and faithfulness!!
  • We know we are loved and cared for by so many, but most importantly by our loving Father!!


Our God is bigger than all our requests, but please join us in praying for the following…

  • Our hearts:
    • It is so hard to say goodbye.  Having done it many times, we know what to expect, but still it catches us off guard and surprises us – the great emotions that come upon us suddenly and hard.  In the midst of the sadness, we may pull away – please bring us back in, embrace us and affirm us in our calling and into the community that we are a part of.
  • Your hearts:
    • I know many of you love us and have some kind of connection with us.  It’s hard to see us leave.  We pray for you as you send us off – for the sadness you will feel, but also all the emotions and desire to want to pull away because it’s hard in the process of us preparing to leave.
  • Partners:
    • We need prayer partners – people who will stand with us, for us and in the gap for us as we prepare and go overseas.
    • We need financial partners – people who will give to God in obedience for the Asian students at BFA who need discipleship, who need to be loved on, but most importantly who need Jesus in their life .
  • Our finances:
    • Our one time Outgoing Expenses for plane tickets, rent, visas, training, etc. is $28,000 and our monthly support which includes living allowance, insurance, ministry expenses, etc. is $5,875.  By the end of May, we need to be at 60% for both Outgoing Expenses ($16,800) and Monthly Support ($3,525).
    • June 6-13 is our next training with TEAM – we need to be at 60% by the end of May to attend!!
    • By the end of June, we need to be at 100% in both accounts of Outgoing Expenses ($28,000) and Monthly Support ($5,875) to leave at the end of July 2020.