A Pilot Lives His Dream
A Pilot Lives His Dream
You don’t have to choose between ministry and your career—do both! Taking your profession overseas doesn’t necessarily make things faster and easier, as some may expect, but if you prepare well and love your work, it may offer you opportunities and advantages you couldn’t have by pursuing a different path.
Our journey to the field was a long, progressively 'revealed,' and varied path with lots of unexpected twists. I am grateful for lots of good counsel along the way, including, "don’t be in a rush.” While there is a sense of urgency about the unreached, preparation is a crucial investment for longevity and makes a better contribution to the team. The Lord enabled us to keep our vision during our long detour.
A Vision for Ministry
Our journey began with our first missions conference in 1983. That same year we committed ourselves to missions at a Keith Green Memorial Concert. We also began narrowing our focus to a specific people group, a tentmaking approach and a profession.
We investigated organisations and teams, initially intending to just 'take a job' and go. But we were challenged to invest in language for the long term, which required raising support and stepping out of work.
I Really Wanted to Fly!
I got all my civilian pilot licenses and also updated my computer science degree with more current classes. At the critical juncture after language school I really struggled with which career to pursue, teaching computer science or flying. Was this selfish? While the former would not be challenging, it would provide nonstop contact with locals. But I really wanted to fly!
Two Out of Three: Life, Work and Ministry
I prayed, fasted and sought broad counsel from colleagues on field teams as well as organisation leaders. I was surprised that all were so supportive.
If I didn’t enjoy the work, I wouldn't last long on the field.
A respected missiologist told us that we needed at least two out of three aspects of our life to be going well: family/personal life, work, and ministry. He assumed that ministry would be slow and often discouraging. If I didn’t enjoy the work, I would not last long on the field.
A Matter of Training and Waiting
I finally settled on aviation, even though it required me to return to my home country to get more experience from the airlines. We assumed it would be 1-2 years more to get to the field. That seemed like forever to us at that time; but due to circumstances out of my control it took eight years! During this preparation time, I flew for three different airlines and a private owner, immersed in our language and flooded with opportunities for ministry. Finally, I had the required flight hours and had offers in two countries.
What the Work Provides
I enjoy my work and seek not to make it an idol. It provides a contact with locals directly, provides legitimacy with everyone I meet, is an example to those I disciple (as I balance family, church and ministry), allows me to help people financially (invest in the business of friends and teammates), and also provides contact with a wider group of locals who have interest in aviation or have kids/friends who want to be pilots. The work pace gives greater flexibility than most “normal” jobs. I’m still living my childhood dream to be an airline pilot, and I find the variety of tasks stimulating. The travel benefits sure help sustain our living here and help us stay in contact with our children, now grown.
Want to learn more about taking your profession overseas? Have a chat with one of our mission mentors!
There were great physical challenges in that long voyage to our new home, but what we learned from being in the company of a Nigerian crew throughout that journey was of enormous help in preparing us to understand the new cultural world within which we were to live. These days, a six hour flight with movies and games provided is a very different type of entry into Africa.