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A Pilot Lives His Dream—Working Among the Unreached

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. Read one family’s journey.

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September 2, 2019

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Don’t be in a rush

Our journey to the field was a long, progressively “revealed,” and varied path with many 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 lost, 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. Don Richardson spoke. 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 organizations and teams, initially intending to just “take a job” and go.

We investigated organizations 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 organization leaders. I was surprised that all were so supportive.

If I didn’t enjoy the work, I would not 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 the U.S. to get more experience from the airlines. We assumed it would take 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 (including the 9/11 attacks), 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 contact with locals directly, provides legitimacy with all 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, who are now grown.

Want to learn more about taking your profession overseas?

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<p class="rich-text-callout"><strong>See Also: </strong><a href="#"><em>Discerning Your Calling: How Do You Know If God Is Leading You to Serve Cross Culturally?</em></a></p>

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