Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Visiting Africa!

 We are headed to Africa for 2 weeks this October!!! This has been a dream which God laid on our hearts many years ago when we first heard the call to serve in missions and now we have the opportunity! Anita and I will be headed to Nairobi, Kenya for 2 weeks to serve with an aviation ministry called AIM Air. 

AIM Air is the aviation branch of Africa Inland Mission, and they support the broad work of missions and the Church in a large portion of Africa representing 8 countries, and over 3 million square miles! This represents an estimated 250 million people, and the airplanes of AIM Air are the vehicle that help take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. It’s hard to express in a few words just what all this ministry does, and so here is a fantastic video that really captures the heart of AIM Air: www.vimeo.com/5768223

What will we be doing during our time in Africa? I (Jason) will spend much of my time working in the AIM Air hangar, and helping out in many different aspects of the ministry. There will certainly be some airplane maintenance in the hangar; and there will also be other things such as flight scheduling, supply prepping, flight load planning, and parts inventory management.

The 2 airplanes Jason will be working on whilst in Kenya

Anita’s time in Kenya will be to experience life in a third world country. She will spend time with other AIM Air wives to develop a better understanding of raising & schooling a family overseas. There will be a lot to process - things like learning how to shop for food in the market, how to cook and clean with limited supplies, how to travel around town, and even developing relationships with some of the locals. Anita will also spend a little time in the AIM Air hangar assisting with office operations like flight bookings. Please pray for our kids as they stay behind with Anita’s parents. This was a tough decision for us, because we are a family, and God has called our entire family into missions. Yet with this trip being during their school year, and with us moving to North Carolina only 2 weeks after our return from Africa, we feel that stability will be best for our kids.

This trip will very much be a vision trip for us. This will be an amazing experience to help prepare us for what our family life will be like as we pursue serving as missionaries in a foreign country. We will be able to see first-hand a ministry that we’ve felt God leading us to consider. There are even plans for us to fly into one of the remote bush villages and spend a couple days helping the missionaries based in that village - which will really capture the “why” behind the ministry of AIM Air.

We invite you to be a part of this journey as well. There are many ways that you can be involved. One of the biggest is through prayer. Please pray along with us as we prepare for our time in Africa. Pray for the many encounters we’ll have while we are there. Pray that we will have an eternal impact on the people we meet and to be a help to the ministry of AIM Air. Please pray as we evaluate if this is a ministry where our family can serve long-term in the future.

We also invite you to pray about and consider financially giving to help make this trip possible. We need to raise $7,250 to cover the cost of flights, living expenses while we are in country, vaccinations, international insurance and many other things. Here is a link to a website that will enable you to financially contribute to help make this vision trip possible: https://secure-q.net/Donations

Finally, we invite you to be an encouragement. We anticipate facing many challenges on this journey and that encouragement will be a tremendous blessing to us. You can follow this journey right here on our Blog, and on our Facebook page (see links to the right).

We look forward to seeing how God uses this time in Kenya to work through us to bless others, to break our hearts for Africa, and to mold us all the more into His willing servants!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Under His Wings

Many folks have asked us why the title of our blog page (and Facebook page, and newsletter) is “Under His Wings.” This is a very vivid illustration that comes from Psalm 91:4 which says:

“He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart 

While we don’t typically think of God as having wings, the picture that is painted here is of a parent bird that is sheltering their young, who are unable to shelter themselves. I (Jason) personally envision eagles when I read this verse, because they’re my favorite bird. And just like those young eaglets, we know that God’s presence is a shelter that we can always run to when we are tired, afraid, or in need of protection. And God, just like that parent eagle, will not only shelter us, but will also bless us with His comforting love.

Similarly, just like those young eaglets, as we learn to fly, His faithfulness will be the strength that our weak wings need to carry us. We know that we can 100% trust in Him because His faithfulness will never fail. In our journey to become missionaries, we feel like a fledgling eaglet. We know where we are headed, but we totally need God’s provision and protection to make it there. We are so comforted to know that we will always be Under His Wings as we follow His will for our lives.

Soon I will be serving in a ministry where I will daily be working “under wings” as I repair, modify, and maintain missionary airplanes at MMS Aviation. And not too far down the road, I will be flying “under wings” as I serve with another ministry in becoming a missionary pilot. And then our dream is to ultimately be serving as a missionary pilot in Cameroon, Africa. That journey will not be a quick or easy one. We know that we will face many challenges along the way. But what a blessing to realize that we will be Under His Wings every day, and that we don’t have to travel that journey alone.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

We're Moving!

Here's the short story - we're moving this weekend.

Now the long story (where you can see God at work).  For almost half a year, we have been planning to move sometime this summer.  Our motivation is that we anticipate we'll be at 100% of our ministry support level sometime around the end of this year, and so I (Jason) will start serving at MMS Aviation soon.  We really didn't want to have the kids change schools in the midst of the school year and so we planned to move during summer break.

As we'll be in the Coshocton, OH area for only 3 years, we felt it would best to rent (rather than buy) a house.  We really thought for a couple months that we had a place lined up to move into.  Another family, who'd just finished their time at MMS Aviation, was renting a house that would suit our needs, and they were moving to Florida at the beginning of July.  Perfect timing!  But then when we went to meet with the landlord about signing a lease, things didn't work out and we were devastated.

Then in God's awesome timing, we were contacted only 1 hour later by a family who supports MMS Aviation.  They heard about us through a friend-of-a-friend and told us that they had a place we could rent!  Our jaws just dropped because that was no coincidence - that was God at work.  AND the house met our needs so much better than the house we had originally lined up.

The only problem was that we had to be out of our current house by mid August, and this new prospective house wasn't available until mid-September.  So we had a 5 week gap we needed to fill.  No worries - we knew of a fully furnished 2 bedroom house that we could squish into for that short of a time.  So we had that all scheduled and then just last Thursday (mind you, only 9 days until moving day), we found out that things weren't going to work out for that and were again devastated.

Then in God's awesome timing, we were contacted the very next day by a family who is currently serving at MMS Aviation.  They told us that they have a 2 bedroom furnished apartment in their basement that we could live in for that 5 week gap.  Again, our jaws just dropped because we saw God actively at work again.

We're reminded of the verse in Philippians 4:19 where Paul says "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus."  We have seen God do that over and over again, and though it really shouldn't surprise us when He does that, we are constantly blown away by His goodness and provision. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Staying Busy!

Wow, it's hard to believe that a month has already flown by since I left my full-time job at Keim Lumber.  On June 2nd (the first time I didn't "clock-in" at my old job), I remember thinking that I hope I will be able to wisely use my time and that I won't be twiddling my thumbs trying to figure out the next thing to do.  Well, now that we're on the other side of June, twiddling is the farthest thing from what we've been doing.  We are still actively working toward raising our financial support to begin serving at MMS Aviation, and June has been a good month in making connections with new people.

To start the month out, our family had a garage sale to get rid of a lot of our stuff.  It's amazing how things accumulate (especially when you have kids).  Later this summer, we'll be moving down close to MMS Aviation (Coshocton, OH), and we will be moving into a smaller house.  Plus since we will (Lord willing) be moving overseas in a couple years, we are feeling the need to really evaluate the difference between needs & wants when it comes to possessions.  The neat part about this sale, is that we rented one of those yellow roadside signs to advertise the sale.  Because of what we wrote on the sign (see above), we had many many opportunities to share with people about what God has been doing in our lives, and where He is leading us in missionary aviation.  We were so encouraged by many folks, and we hope that we were able to encourage / inspire them as well.

Then on the second week of June, I (Jason) and my oldest son had a unique opportunity to go on a 46 mile, 3-day canoe trip with a group of men that we had only met once before.  Through a friend / former coworker of mine, we were able to join the 3rd annual "Allegheny River Canoe Trip" that a group of men from another church in the area have been doing. Despite rainy weather, and a river that rose 2.5 feet overnight, we had a really good time. This was neat for us to be able to fellowship with brothers-in-Christ that we barely knew, but felt totally comfortable with.  And again, we were able to share with all these guys how God has been at work in us, and working through us..  Who knows where some of these conversations may lead?

Over the third week of June, our whole family had a wonderful opportunity to be a part of a 3-day Spiritual Life Conference that was put on by MMS Aviation and by a ministry team from Bethlehem Baptist Church (Minneapolis, MN). This group from Minnesota came to Coshocton, OH, specifically to minister to those who serve at MMS Aviation and their families. The adults had times of worship and a seminar on conflict resolution, and the kids had activities and workshops. It was a great time for the whole family, and we left feeling encouraged, uplifted, and so eager to begin serving at MMS Aviation.

Finally, over the last week of June, I (Jason) and my 2 oldest sons went on a week-long campout with a boys ministry from our church. This ministry is a lot like a Christian version of the boy scouts. It focuses on men working with boys in the areas of leadership, evangelism, and discipleship - all in an outdoor setting. This particular campout was with 6 other churches from Ohio & Indiana that have the same ministry. We had a wonderful time learning how to be "Quacks" for God (Romans 12:2), and also in doing a bunch of fun boy things.

I helped out all week with a craft project that was turning wooden duck calls on the lathe, and helped the boys & men make close to 100 calls. This was a lot of fun for me working with these boys, but also meeting the men from the other churches. It's so encouraging to see men that are willing to step up and show the boys in their lives what it means to be a man of God. Plus I was able to make connections with pastors from 3 different churches, and hopefully this will lead into opportunities to be able to share about our ministry at their churches.

So we are staying super busy in our efforts to raise our financial support. We are so thankful that God has given us so many opportunities to share with others, and will continue to do so in the coming months. We know that we will soon be busy with serving at MMS Aviation, but for now, we are really enjoying meeting new people and sharing about the ministry that God has called us to!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

It's Official!

     It’s hard to believe that a little less than a year ago, we were accepted at MMS Aviation to pursue God’s call in our lives for me (Jason) to serve as a missionary pilot.  Now we’re standing on the brink of a monumental step of faith - on May 30th, I will be leaving my full time job at Keim Lumber to focus more time & energy on raising the financial support that we need in order to start serving.

     From the world’s perspective, this step may seem silly and foolish.  But when looked at from God’s perspective, this step is humble obedience to His lordship in our life.  Why do I want to be a missionary pilot?  Because God has given us a passion for ministry, a love of flying, a heart for the African people, and given me a comfort in the French language (spoken in several African countries).   I desire to be a missionary pilot because I will be able to help in the effort to spread God’s Word and love to the ends of the earth (Mark 16:15)

     At MMS Aviation, I will have the opportunity to serve something much bigger than myself.  This one organization has serviced & repaired airplanes from more than 100 different Christian missionary organizations.  Can an airplane save people?  No, but they certainly make it so much easier to reach some of the most remote people with the great news about Jesus - and that is what saves people!  (see our previous post for a story about how one airplane made a huge difference)

     And the awesome part is, you have an opportunity to be a part of this exciting ministry!  We are seeking people & churches who are willing to help make it possible for us to serve, by supporting us in ministry with regular financial contributions & prayers.  We are currently at 37% of our funding goal, because of the many people who have already come alongside us and begun supporting us - and we thank them so much for their part.  As eager and willing as we are to serve God in this ministry, we cannot do it without your help.  We need to be at 100% before we can begin to serve at MMS Aviation.  This breaks down to roughly:
    *126 people supporting at $25 per month, or
    *63 people supporting at $50 per month, or
    *42 people supporting at $75 per month

     Really, you can support us at any amount, but these are just a few examples.  Would you consider whether God is calling you to be a part of supporting us in this ministry?  At the top of this page is a link that says "Donate Online" which explains how you can do that.  Remember, the last day at my current job is May 30th; so if the Lord leads you to support us in ministry, the sooner you begin, the sooner we can begin serving at MMS Aviation!

     If you would like to hear more about this exciting journey, we would love to tell you all about it.  Please feel free to contact us - at the top of this page is a "Contact Us" link that is a great way to get ahold of us.  We love having people over to our place for dinner, and if you're too far away for that, our upcoming travels may likely bring us near to where you live.  We're excited about how God will be using us in the mission field, and excited to share that journey with others!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

How Airplanes DO Make A Difference

     They say a picture speaks a thousand words, but the picture that you see here also cries a thousand tears. At first glance, it’s difficult to tell what you are seeing in this picture, and that’s because what you’re seeing is absolute destruction. Quite possibly the most tragic single event in modern history is the “Boxing Day Tsunami” that happened December 26th, 2004.

     This tsunami happened in the Indian Ocean, and was triggered by one of the most massive earthquakes ever recorded. This generated a series of gigantic tidal waves that in some places were over 100 feet tall. In the span of several hours, over 230,000 people lost their lives to the destructive forces of this tsunami. And for those who survived, life would never be the same.

Epicenter of 2014 "Boxing Day Tsunami"
     While the giant destructive waves hit many countries all around the Indian Ocean, the hardest hit country was the closest country to the epicenter of the earthquake- Indonesia. And the hardest hit province in Indonesia was Aceh.  As you can see in the picture above, nothing is left of what used to be a village. Other than the road, the only man-made object that is recognizable, is the hero of this story - the airplane. The plane you see is from a ministry called Mission Aviation Fellowship (or MAF for short). This plane was stationed in a nearby province of Indonesia, but after the tsunami hit, was quickly and easily relocated to Aceh to help in the relief efforts.

     One of the biggest challenges that the relief organizations faced right away is how to get the relief aid to those who needed it. The roads were either destroyed or completely covered in debris, so ground transportation was not a viable solution for quite some time. However in areas where a small strip of land or road could be cleared, airplanes could easily get in and out to bring food, water, clothes, medical supplies, and other essentials to those who desperately needed it. And this airplane, among many others, stayed for months and flew constantly to provide that aid.

     Quick tidbit of info here - Indonesia has the highest population of Muslims anywhere in the world. The Aceh province has traditionally been a very closed Muslim area of Indonesia - meaning hostile to Christianity. But in the aftermath of the tsunami, the Muslims were not around to help out with the relief efforts. So when the Indonesians looked around and saw that it was the Christian “infidels” that were helping out in their time of need, this helped to open the door to the Gospel in this area. All this because airplanes owned by Christian missionary organizations, flown by Christian missionary pilots were there to show the love of Jesus.

     Fast forward 9 years, and after a long life of ministry, this airplane has seen better days. To the secular world, the airplane is scrap, or at best, good only for spare parts. But a ministry in Coshocton, OH (you guessed it, MMS Aviation) is able to provide service free of labor costs, to get this airplane back to prime operating condition. In June 2013, during my evaluation week, I was able to do some work on this airplane (see 1st pic below). Now after close to a year of servicing and modifications (done by others at MMS), this plane is nearly ready to begin serving in ministry again, and helping to make it possible to share the love of Jesus with those who are so desperate for His love. This is just one example of the type of project I will be able to work on at MMS Aviation, and of the kind of impact that can be made using airplanes to help spread the Gospel. Will you be able to partner with us in this ministry, and help make it possible for me to serve at MMS Aviation? Through your regular financial giving to support us in ministry, this all can be possible!

During my evaluation week last year, I am helping to install
a new wing spar carry-through on this "Tsunami Hero"
This picture was taken 2 weeks ago.  Though it doesn't look like much,
this same airplane is nearly ready to begin serving in ministry again.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

God's Love

Lately, our youngest son (4 years old) has taken to affirming his love for us in this way:

<Christopher>  "Dad / Mom, do you know why I love you?"
<Us>  "Why do you love me?
<Christopher>  "Because I love you!"

Oh, I am sometimes amazed at the profound wisdom that young children often have.  This child understands that love is not based on what he gets out of a relationship, but rather that love is a choice that is made and freely given to someone else regardless of self-gain.  This reminds me of a verse in the Bible:

"This is real love--not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins." I John 4:10

You see, God's love for us is just the same.  He loves us because He has freely chosen to give us His love, and not for anything we've done to deserve His love.  That same question that our youngest son asks, can also be heard from God in this entire chapter of I John 4...

<God>  "Child, do you know why I love you?"
<Us>  "Why do you love me?"
<God?  "Because I love you!"

This love is all the more clear this time of year as we head into the Easter weekend and focus on what that love cost God.  He loved us so much that He sent His son Jesus into the world, so "that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures." (I Cor. 15:4)  Because of that sacrificial love, we can have a relationship with God; and have the hope and peace that comes along with knowing that we'll spend forever with God!