Life's busy, read it when you're ready!

Create a free account to save articles for later, keep track of past articles you’ve read, and receive exclusive access to all RP resources.

Search thousands of RP articles

Articles, news, and reviews that celebrate God's truth.

Get Articles Delivered!

Articles, news, and reviews that celebrate God's truth. delivered direct to your Inbox!


Scout makes a comeback with new audio streaming service

Entrepreneurial spirit meets Christian family values with tech startup


Reformed Perspective’s last issue featured a back cover ad that caught my eye. It introduced, a new audio streaming service featuring books like Scout and Wambu that were read to me by my father when I was a boy, and which I have since read to my own children.

But weren’t these books rather “niche” to the Dutch Reformed community? Who would have turned them into audiobooks? Would the quality be any good?

Streaming music and audiobooks continues to grow in popularity, also among Reformed households in Canada. But this was the first time I had seen a specifically Christian streaming service, let alone one that would feature classic Dutch Reformed books that many in the newest generation likely have not heard of, like Anne de Vries’ Journey Through the Night series.

I have my own entrepreneurial itch, so I set up a Zoom meeting with Whillo’s founder and owner Layne van Rhijn to learn more about this new service and the vision behind it.

From drones to audiobooks

The van Rhijn family.

Layne and his family live in Diamond City, Alberta, just outside of Lethbridge, and are members of a local Netherlands Reformed congregation. He works full-time as a paramedic firefighter. One of the perks of the job is that he gets regular blocks of time off. With an entrepreneurial spirit and a propensity to get things done, he has turned this time “off” into a number of vibrant business ventures.

It started with his interest in, and growing collection of drones. He started an online drone store out of his garage, expanded into a store, and then eventually sold that company to an investor. This was followed by a new venture, focused on the used market for commercial drones. “So I built an app for drone traders, like an Auto Trader for selling used drones,” shared Layne. That has grown to become a marketplace for used drones throughout North America and quickly led to many more opportunities. “So then we started doing apps and different websites for clients.” Over time, he grew a portfolio of companies which provide income streams and he continues to grow and scale them.

In 2021 Layne and his wife Melinda created Whillo,

“to scratch an itch….We have three young kids ourselves, and are always looking for good audio content for them. And we found ourselves proof-listening a lot.”

A librarian at their local Christian school then expressed interest in putting good books online in audio form. So Layne put together a proposal of what it would take, with them providing the tech help and the librarian (also an aunt) helping with the narrating. As Layne explains:

“Initially, we were going to keep it small and kind of internal, and then it started growing on its own. So then we actually did a proper app and have grown it from there.”

Growing an audio library

Whillo was more difficult to get off the ground than Layne expected.

“You can’t just use any book, right? You have to use something either in the public domain or set up licensing agreements. So we were initially quite limited in what we could do.”

They began to grow their collection with licensing agreements, and they also started hiring professional narrators from across the world.

A skim through the catalog of Whillo’s website reveals over 200 audiobooks, many of which are for children and largely unknown beyond Dutch Reformed immigrants and their children. Layne noted that “we’ve significantly expanded our teen/adult selection over the past months and the more recent books we’ve added are well known across Christian circles.”

I downloaded the app on my phone to give it a try, as our family was about to embark on another 12-hour road trip. This allowed our family of eight to listen to two books for about four or five hours total. I was pleasantly surprised by the listening experience. I guess I expected an amateur reader, or someone with a Dutch accent, but was treated to a professional and dynamic reading, comparable to what I get with a mainstream resource like Audible.

But I also quickly learned that my children didn’t share the same interest that I had in most of the books available on Whillo. And looking at the music selection, it was apparent that it would be a hard sell for me to have my family listen to the entirely classical and choral genre. In recent decades, a lot has changed when it comes to the music being listened to in many Reformed homes, including in my own.

Overcoming obstacles

But Whillo has found a receptive audience not just with some conservative Reformed families, but among conservative families from other Christian traditions as well, including the Mennonites and Hutterites, and have noticed a large uptick in traffic from various homeschool groups. Layne’s expectation is that it will keep growing in content and reach. For example, it can become a place where choirs and musicians can get their content out to those who will appreciate it.

He acknowledged that choosing content is incredibly difficult as there is no shortage of differing opinions of what is appropriate or good.

Another challenge is the sheer cost, as some of his larger titles require between $2,000-$5,000 each to produce, and then half of the proceeds from subscribers go to royalties. But the enterprise has recently crossed the line where it is being profitable, and is also beginning to attract larger publishers like Youth With a Mission (YWAM). Over 33,000 hours have already been streamed since last January, when Whillo began tracking, with about seventy percent of the listeners coming from Canada.

“It’s been the hardest business, by far, that I’ve ever tackled. And I didn’t expect that at all. Every part of it has been hard and but also very rewarding.” Layne cited examples where he receives emails or message from families who tell them how much they appreciate it and listen to it. “It keeps us going.”

You can check out Whillo’s selection at

Picture courtesy of Layne van Rhijn.

Enjoyed this article?

Get the best of RP delivered to your inbox every Saturday for free.

CD Review, Music, Parenting

CD REVIEWS: Bach and Beethoven for kids (and adults)

C.S. Lewis once made mention of a man who did not like children. Now some of our dislikes are simply a matter of taste – whether your favorite ice cream is chocolate or vanilla says nothing about your character – but this man recognized that his disregard for little ones was wrong. There is a beauty in little children, a wonder about what God has done in making these tiny new people that everyone really should appreciate. If a man doesn't, it is because of something missing in the man. Lewis was making the point that there is such a thing as good and bad taste – all is not mere opinion. When it comes to classical music I'm like this man. I've never appreciated it, but I recognize this as a deficiency in myself. I should like it. After all, this is music that has stood that test of time. We play Beethoven and Bach's music centuries after it was first written; does anyone think the same will be done for Lady Gaga, Beyonce, or Justin Timberlake? Even those of us who don't like Bach know that in a real tangible way he is better than Beyonce. Since having kids I've hoped that my daughters' musical tastes will be better developed than their dad's. So I was very happy to come across these two CDs: Beethoven Lives Upstairs and Bach Comes to Call. Each is a dramatized account of the composer's life, sprinkled throughout with a liberal dose of their music. In Bach Comes to Call (47 min) Bach appears in modern times, under unexplained circumstances, to a girl who is having a hard time getting her piano homework done. The composer encourages young Elizabeth by telling her the story of his own childhood and musical triumphs. In Beethoven Lives Upstairs (46 min) we are introduced to a little boy who has the misfortune to live below Beethoven's apartment. Beethoven, it turns out, is demanding, short-tempered, and makes the strangest sounds as he paces in his room. The boy airs his complaints to an understanding uncle who teaches the young boy to empathize with this great composer, who hears wonderful music in his head, but who can no longer hear it with his ears. How very frustrating that must be! A couple cautions to note. First, there is a moment in Beethoven Lives Upstairs that might lead to a little tittering. The boy complains that Beethoven was laughed at by little children who, while peering through his window, saw he was composing while wearing no clothes at all! Not a big thing, but it might have been nice to leave that detail out. Second, my wife and I have listened to other CDs and DVDs in this "Classical Kids" series and have yet to find any others we would want to recommend, so don't assume they will all be good. These two, however, are excellent, and a great way to foster a love of classical music in kids, and maybe even their dads. ...