We are often asked and we frequently have to remind ourselves WHY we are moved to another continent. Why would we leave behind our country, our language, our families and friends, our security and career opportunities? What about our kids? Will they receive a good education? Will we be safe? Why do I not choose to fly airplanes in the US? Why don't I fly as a medical evacuation pilot in the US, saving lives and forego the hardships and even dangers of a life in an unfamiliar country where we start out knowing no one? Even having our own answers to these questions and having come to terms with the reality of what we are doing, we still sometimes have doubts and the uncertainty does make us question why would we do something so crazy.
My own answer to the WHY question is something that has developed for me over the past few years. Today I answer in a threefold way: Calling + Passion coming together in Love.
Calling: As followers of Jesus, we are called to bring the message and the hope that we have through Jesus to all peoples. That calling is something that all disciples (followers) of Jesus were given by Jesus Himself when He spoke the words that have become known as The Great Commission, "So go and make followers of all people in the world. Baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything that I have taught you." (Matthew 28:19&20 NCV). There are many ways of fulfilling this calling to make disciples of all peoples in the world. Some are specifically called to go to peoples, while others are called to pray for those who go, to support those who go, or to educate those who could go or have decided to go. Sometimes you don't need to GO at all - you can fulfil this call by making followers of Jesus among your coworkers, neighbors or friends. Often it is not necessary to go very far; merely across your apartment hall or street there may be a neighbor who is a college student or a refugee from a place where Jesus is not known. In summary, I am called to share with other people the good news of the transformation and hope that can be had with a personal relationship with the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. How I am fulfilling that call is related to my passion.
Passion: Karen and I are both passionate people. Karen is passionate about the relational needs of those around her, both in her family and outside of it. She loves to make friends and she loves to engage her passion for building friendships for the purpose of our primary call to share Jesus with the world. Likewise, I have a passion for aviation; when I fly, I experience awe and wonder coupled with joy and a sense of accomplishment. I also like using aviation to help people logistically; I love increasing the efficiency of effective people by reducing the time they spend in transit. I am so excited about the idea of using my aviation skills to save lives when I do a medical flight. I love making lives better in a tangible way. As a pilot for MAF in Lesotho, I will have the privilege of doing these things. I will be able to fulfill my call to share Jesus with those with whom I live while also greatly increasing the efficiency of those who are also fulfilling this call. My call and my passion come together in the vocation of being a missionary pilot. This brings me to the motivation that is behind passionate fulfillment of the call: love.
A Basotho Patient on an MAF Airplane
Love: This love is twofold. Jesus' love for me, and me following in His steps by fulfilling His command to love others. Jesus's love for me was demonstrated by his sacrifice of His own life to save mine and to save the whole world. Jesus Himself had a lot to say about love. He said to His disciples right before his own death: "Love each other in the same way that I have loved you. Everyone will know that you are my disciples because of your love for each other" (John 13:34&35). Jesus also summed up all of the commands of God into two summary mandates: to love God wholeheartedly and to love your neighbor as yourself. When Jesus made this declaration, someone asked who is this "neighbor" that we should love? The answer Jesus gave was the parable of the Good Samaritan. There Jesus defined those in need as the ones we are to love as ourselves. The Samaritan saw a need, was moved with compassion and did something about it. We are commanded by Jesus to "do likewise." I love God because He loved me first, demonstrated when He sent Jesus to save me. As the Spirit of God works in my heart to make me love like Jesus, I feel compassion toward God's creatures in need. God gave me a skill and passion (aviation) that is the conduit by which I can tangibly bring help to those in need. When that help comes in the name of Jesus, I am using my passion to fulfill my call to bring the love and hope of Jesus to those who need it
If you have not experienced the love of Jesus in your own heart, I urge you to explore the claims of Christ and put your trust in Him so that you can have the most fantastic relationship of love and devotion that is possible for a human being.
For me, the road to why has been a bit more bumpy. When Joe shared with me his growing awareness of God’s call to become a missionary pilot, I was excited for him because I could see his passion and how it was a great fit for him. I, however, had some hurdles.
First of all, there were some changes in my life that I knew I had to make in order to authentically represent God to others. As I have sought to acknowledge Jesus as King and submit my desires to Him, He has worked in me to will and act according to His good purpose. One of my favorite verses is in II Corinthians 12:9 where God says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”
Another hurdle was a lack of understanding about the concepts of “missions” and “missionary". I now realize that God is the One with the mission to redeem and restore beauty, truth, and justice for all of creation. All of us are valued by God and gifted with unique ways to partner with God in this mission, whether we are a pilot, a doctor, a mom, a pastor, a Basotho shepherd or an American middle-class employee.
One of my favorite things about MAF is that it is a holistic ministry that seeks to address both physical and spiritual needs. Joe and I are excited about doing this as a team in Lesotho. Just as Joe is passionate about using the airplane to tangibly share Christ’s love, I am passionate about building relationships with other women that help them see their value and potential in Christ, especially to those who may not yet see exactly how they fit into God’s family.
Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or want to hear more about our story.