During that month that I was required to take off work for recovery from surgery, we began to feel that God was calling us into missions, but didn't yet realize God's timeline. We both thought this would be something great to do after the kids grew up and moved out of the house. But we gradually began to see that God was saying NOW is the time.
After one of my post-surgery follow-up visits to the surgeon, we were on the way home and saw an airplane sitting in the front yard of a church beside the highway. We thought this was rather odd, so we pulled into the parking lot to check it out. Turns out this airplane was a travelling "billboard" of sorts that was advertising an event taking place in September 2012 called the Ohio "Missions At The Airport" or MATA for short (see below for their website). This is an open-to-the-public event where several missionary aviation organizations get together at a small airport for a weekend and give folks a taste of what missionary aviation is all about. The timing couldn't have been more perfect for this event as we were really feeling like this was the direction God was leading us.
At the MATA, we had an opportunity to speak with a pilot from Missionary Flights International. We explained to him that we felt like God was calling me to be involved in missionary aviation. He was very encouraging and informative and listed off several requirements.
The first requirement made sense - I needed a commercial pilot's license with 400-500 hours of experience. At the time I had zero hours of pilot experience, but felt this was just a matter of time to get my license and hours.
The second requirement was a new one to us. Most missionary aviation organization also require their pilots to be certified airplane mechanics. But thinking about it - if you are flying in a remote jungle somewhere and your plane acts up, wouldn't it be crucial to be able to diagnose and fix the problem rather than having to transport a mechanic to the problem? I have zero training as an airplance mechanic, and at the time we weren't really sure how to go about getting this training.
The third requirement really got my attention though. He asked how old I was, and when I said I was 34, he said "if you want to be involved in missionary aviation, then you need to get started NOW. Due to the stress and workload of this type of job, this is not a young man's game." Well that was the first time that I've ever been referred to as an old man. But with all the training I needed, I would be at least 40 by the time I was fully certified and ready to fly in the field.
But surprisingly, rather than leaving this conversation feeling defeated because of how inexperienced I was; we left feeling like we now knew what was required and with time, effort, and patience it could be accomplished. Rather than give up and stay with what was comfortable, we felt even more confirmed that God was calling us into the mission field.
Another neat part of the MATA was the opportunity to fly in an actual missionary airplane. Here's a picture that I took during that flight:
Not only was this my first time flying in a small airplane (only 6 seats), but I also had the opportunity to sit in the co-pilots seat. I've flown as a passenger in large commercial airplanes before, but flying in this small airplane, and being able to sit in the cockpit, and see what the pilot sees, and view all the controls & instruments - oh I was hooked! I knew right then and there that this was something I was passionate about.
In our next post, we'll share about how we connected with the mission organization that we'll be serving with.
Ohio MATA website:
Monday, October 28, 2013
Well here, it is - our first official blog post... ever! What God has been doing in our lives recently, and where He's directing us to go is something we want to tell the whole world. Over the past 3 years, God has been actively molding us more than we've ever encountered. But just like clay in the Potter's hand, it has been and will continue to be a stretching journey of faith for us. So we invite you to follow us on this journey by staying tuned to this blog. We have no idea where this journey will take us, but we know the One who has every step of the journey laid out in advance.
But before I tell you about where God is directing us, let me tell you about how He has brought us to where we are right now. It's always interesting, as you journey through life, to look back over the valleys (or lowpoints of life) that you've come through. While it is difficult or unpleasant to go through those tough times, it's at such times that God is closest and most at work in us.
In the summer of 2010, I (Jason) somehow managed to rupture a disc in my back. I have no idea how I did this - I don't recall any injury or doing anything abnormally stupid. This injury was causing a tremendous amount of pain – so much so that in the end, I couldn't sit down for more than 5 minutes, and was only getting 2 to 3 hours of sleep a night. But after 2 years of trying every medical fix and finding no relief, it became clear that our last option – surgery – was the only option. So in June 2012, I underwent a microdiscectomy surgery to fix the issue. Praise God that the surgery was successful and corrected the problem.
Jason and the kids on the morning of surgery
Leading up to surgery, I really had to depend on God for a source of strength. Only by His strength was I able to survive for months on only 2 to 3 hours of sleep per night. We also learned to rely on God to sustain us through the rough times. As Christians, we are not promised an easy comfortable life, but we can be assured that God will be with us “for better or for worse.” We also saw God provide for our needs in some amazing ways. With high medical bills and extended time off of work, we had no idea how we’d make ends meet. But we saw firsthand that we can trust Him to take care of us and provide for our needs when the math doesn’t add up.
Then after surgery, I was required to take a month off work for recovery. I was able to get some much needed R+R during that time, but most importantly we were also able to spend a great deal of time in Bible study and prayer. This was such a beneficial time in our life because it gave us the opportunity to evaluate if we were where God wanted us to be, and doing what God wanted us to be doing. We began talking about the passions God has given us and the skills that He’s blessed us with.
God has given both of us a real passion to minister to those who are in desperate need of His love, grace, and mercy. For over 15 years, we’ve been using this passion in Youth Ministry at our local church. In the past several years, He’s also given me (Jason) a real passion for flying – particularly small airplanes. Combine those 2 passions with the fact that I studied 10 years of foreign language in school, and that equals missionary aviation! It’s a wonder we didn’t see it before, but God’s timing is perfect and He knew that we had to go through that valley in order to be prepared for service as missionaries.
In our next post, we’ll share about our process of discovering what exactly missionary aviation is, and what we needed to do to be a part of that.