Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

The last few weeks have been busy with packing, house hunting, wrapping up things at work, and saying goodbye to friends. We are still planning to move the first or second week of January, and have all-but-decided on a rental property. But the details will have to wait for another blog post!

I also want to write about some other things I've been thinking about recently: generosity, extravagance, and the "foolishness" of following Christ. But a post on that will have to wait too! For now, I'll just touch on the last one. Not only does it seem foolish in the eyes of the world to give everything to follow Jesus, but the very message of the cross of Christ is foolishness.
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is God’s power to us who are being saved. For it is written: 
      I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
      and I will set aside the understanding of the experts. 
Where is the philosopher? Where is the scholar? Where is the debater of this age? Hasn't God made the world’s wisdom foolish? For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of the message preached. For the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is God’s power and God’s wisdom, because God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.
(1 Corinthians 1:18-25)
This time of year, we celebrate another story that seems ridiculous to those who do not believe: the story of God himself coming to earth in human form, born of a virgin as a baby boy. But for those who believe and who have been born again (John 3:3-7, 16-18), it is the perfect life of this God-man, along with His eventual death and resurrection, that brings us life and hope!

Whether you are spending the day with friends and family, or find yourself in a lonely or difficult situation, I pray that you will find hope in knowing Christ. May you know the joy and blessings of Jesus this Christmas!

Friday, December 13, 2013

House Hunting and More

Over the past several weeks we have been on the hunt for one of the elusive rental properties of Coshocton County. An influx of temporary workers has led to a decline in the number of properties on the market, and quality rentals are few and far between. We've had our sights set on a few possibilities, but have yet to pull the trigger.

Seriously, though, we are about three weeks away from our anticipated move date, and we still haven't located a place to live in Coshocton. We aren't being that choosy; there's just not much available! We haven't found a single rental property in our desired school district. In fact, we don't know of any viable options around Coshocton at all, that are currently available for rent. We went down to look at a few places, but so far haven't found anything suitable for our family. There are a few properties that may be available by January, but nothing seems certain.

It's obviously important that we have a place to move into, just for the sake of having a roof over our heads. We would like to avoid living in a van down by the Tuscarawas River! But we also need to enroll the kids in school, and we can't do that until we know where we will be living. Would you pray with us that God would provide a home to rent, and that we would have wisdom about which school to choose for our kids? Besides sending them to school in the district where we live, there is the possibility of open enrollment in another district, or sending our children to Coshocton Christian School (which would involve expenses we have not planned for).

We can hardly believe we are so close to moving. Tara has already worked her last day at the YMCA, and I only have eight working days left at Dana! We've started packing items we won't need for the next several weeks and purging those that we don't need at all. There's a lot more that needs to happen over the next few weeks, and we appreciate your prayers as this hardly seems humanly possible. Then again, if everything was humanly possible it would be too easy to rely on our own efforts! 

Although we are making all the preparations to move by the first week in January, we are still a little short of our financial support quota. We are trusting that the rest of the funds that have been verbally committed will come in soon, and that we will be able to start serving with MMS in January.

Thank you for your encouragement, prayer, and support as we prepare to serve with MMS Aviation. You are an incredible blessing to us, and we're privileged to be sent out by the Church to be the hands and feet of Jesus to a world in need!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Getting Closer to Coshocton!

Well, we may not physically be getting closer to Coshocton quite yet, but our move date is certainly coming quickly. Aaron has only 18 working days left at Dana, and we've started packing up some things that we won't be needing for the next month or so. We've managed to accumulate a lot of belongings over the years, and this is a perfect opportunity to give away, sell, or dispose of things we no longer need.

As we prepare for our move to Coshocton, we have started looking for a place to rent. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of rentals available in the Coshocton area right now. Would you pray with us that God would provide a suitable rental property for us, and give us the wisdom to recognize it when it comes along? We may need to adjust our expectations, but we trust that God knows what we need better than we do!

As far as our funding goes, we are currently at 84%. However, because of some special gifts and the faithful support we've received over the last year, we may be able to start serving with MMS when we reach 90% of our quota. In this case we will need to raise the remaining 10% over the course of our apprenticeship. If we go this route, we only need an additional $300 per month for Aaron to start serving in the hangar! That said, we are still praying for the $800/month that we need to reach full funding.

We appreciate your prayers and support as we prepare to serve with MMS Aviation and MAG. We couldn't go to serve in this way if not for those of you who are sending us out to help reach isolated people with physical help, and the hope of the Gospel!

This was a short update, but feel free to contact us if you would like to hear more about our ministry, or if you have any other questions!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Yes, you read that right! It's unofficial, but I notified my manager at work that he can expect my resignation effective January 3, 2014. It will be made official when I give my two weeks notice in December. It feels great to finally have a transition date on the calendar!

We've also made some financial decisions that should allow us to reduce our monthly support need by almost $200 per month, meaning that we are about 77% funded (including some commitments that we know are coming in the next couple months). Please pray with us that the remaining 23% (about $1150/month) will be raised by the end of December, allowing us to move to the Coshocton area in time to start the kids in their new school after Christmas break.

This timing would also help to meet current staffing needs at MMS Aviation. Currently, there are only two apprentices in the hangar at MMS, and they will both finish their apprenticeships in less than a year! As we've communicated in the past, MMS mechanics play an important role keeping missionary aircraft flying around the world. When staffing levels are low, it impacts MMS's ability to meet the needs of organizations who rely on MMS to safely carry out their missions.

While $1150 is certainly not pocket change, we know that God can easily provide this remainder of our monthly financial need. We know that He has called us (and all believers) to participate in making disciples of all nations, and believe that He will provide as we step out in faith, as we keep our eyes focused on Jesus (see my last post, and Matthew 6:25-33). Whether or not He provides for us to move to Coshocton in January, we know that He will use the situation to build our faith and trust in Him. But just to be clear, we're still praying for a January move date!

If you've ever considered partnering with us, now would be a great time! Whether in prayer or financial giving, your support is vital to our ministry! If you'd like to participate by giving financially, you can give online or contact us for other ways to give. Finally, if you cannot personally partner with us in this way, please consider connecting us with the missions committee at your church, or sharing our ministry with friends and family that share our desire for seeing the Great Commission fulfilled.

Although I sometimes tire of asking for financial support, I remind myself that we are not simply asking for a handout. We truly believe that missionary aviation makes a difference in the lives of people in need around the world—both for this life and for eternity! My family, and most of the people reading this blog, are immensely blessed with resources beyond what many people in this world can imagine. My family and I want to generously give of ourselves to see God's kingdom advanced. You have the opportunity to participate with us in doing that, whether it's partnering with us in our ministry, other ministries that you are passionate about, or your own personal ministry to those in your sphere of influence. But in order to do that, you must first know Christ! My hope for you is expressed well in Paul's prayer for the Ephesians:
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19)
May God richly bless you!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Walking by Faith

What does it mean to walk by faith? What does the phrase "step out in faith" really mean, and does it fit with the Biblical teaching about faith? If I'm going to walk by faith, do I have to make radical decisions that defy reason, trusting that God will show up in a big way?

I don't intend to answer all those questions, but I've been thinking about them as I prepare to serve with MMS Aviation. I want so badly to finish our support raising, so I can leave the "cubicle farm" I have been struggling in for years and start serving in missionary aviation. But despite working as hard as ever, and praying faithfully that God will provide for our financial need, we haven't seen many responses come in lately. This leaves me wondering what I should be doing differently.

Some pastors say that we need to have audacious faith (whatever that means), and then God will bring about the dreams and desires he has planted in us. Others tell us that we need to believe and act as if God has already brought them about. There are some Biblical examples that seem to support this notion, but I finally just decided to open up Hebrews 11 (sometimes called the "hall of faith") and see what God would say to me through this passage.

As I started to read, I noticed that the people mentioned in this chapter did some pretty amazing things, but also some things that seem less remarkable. Building an ark and saving the human race from extinction: amazing! Left his home, not knowing where he was going: that took some faith. Gave instructions about his bones: honestly, I'm not sure what to make of that, or why it required such faith, but it doesn't seem that crazy. Passing through the Red Sea: truly incredible! Shutting the mouths of lions: scary, and definitely awesome! But then it gets to this part about those who suffered imprisonment, torture and persecution: not so awesome, at least from a temporal perspective. And that's not exactly the incredible life that most preachers have in mind when they talk about living an extraordinary life of faith.

In fact, I've heard many messages coming from churches that depict a life of faith as having amazing results here and now. Having a rewarding and fruitful ministry; getting that promotion; starting a successful business; planting and building an amazing church; getting that book deal; and the list goes on. I could even add another one to that list: seeing God quickly provide the finances to serve Him full-time in missionary aviation! Don't get me wrong: those can be great things (especially the last one!). And some of them even seem to be centered on God. But under a thin veneer of spirituality, they all have to do with seeing results of our faith in this world.

But let's go back to Hebrews 11 and look at a few verses (NIV 1984):
For he [Abraham] was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder was God. (Hebrews 11:10) 
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. (Hebrews 11:13) 
Instead, they were longing for a better country---a heavenly one. (Hebrews 11:16) 
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised (Hebrews 11:39)
And, finally, let's look at the first three verses of Hebrews 12:1-3, which read:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
When Hebrews 11:1 says "faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see", I don't think it's referring generically to any hope or dream that we happen to have for our life. I can conjure up a sense of confidence that something will happen (or that God is busy behind the scenes), but is that true faith? Is faith simply a matter of convincing myself that what seems impossible is actually possible, and then working up the courage to boldly pursue it? Based on Hebrews 11-12, and numerous other Scriptures that I won't delve into, I don't think so. In fact, if my so-called "faith" points me to anything less than Jesus Christ, what He has done, and our eternal hope in Him, I don't think it can be called faith in the Biblical sense of the Word.

Maybe rather than contemplating whether I need to take a big "step of faith", I need to think about the object of my faith, and where I am placing my hope. If I'm so consumed with getting to MMS that I take my eyes off of Jesus and my eternal hope, I'm focusing on the wrong thing!

I still don't have answers to all my questions. But re-centering on Christ has taken away some of the anxiety about making the "right" decisions. It gives me peace when I realize that my eternal hope is secured by Jesus, and that I can never mess that up! I continue to pray that God will provide for us to get to MMS as soon as he will allow. But my greater desire that I will remain focused on Him, and that I will be a faithful ambassador wherever I may find myself.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

October 6, 2013 Update

It's about time for another update! We've been making a lot of phone calls and have sent several letters the past few weeks, but haven't seen much movement toward our support goal. We have talked to many people who are excited about our ministry with MMS, and are praying that some of them will choose to partner with us in some way.

It's a strange irony, that in a day and age when we are so connected through mobile phones, social media, etc, we find it more difficult than ever to get in contact with friends that we don't see regularly face-to-face. Last time we were in a faith-supported ministry, we could typically locate someone's contact information by simply opening the phone book or dialing 411. Everyone had a land line. But today, many people have given up their home phones, leaving us struggling to make personal contact beyond a letter sent by U.S. Mail.

Would you pray with us that God would provide divine appointments for us to come in contact with people that he would call into partnership with us? We are also praying that He will bring us to mind in the many friends we have sent letters to, but have been unsuccessful at following up with. In fact, we have about 100 families and individuals who have not yet responded to our letters, phone calls, or messages. If each of them partnered with us for only $15/month, we would be 100% funded!

As we continue to work diligently, we also pray for wisdom and patience. Although there will be some difficult things about moving, it is also hard to wait (and wait, and wait) when we are working so hard at moving toward ministry with MMS. Not to mention the struggle that it is for Aaron to sit in a cubicle all day, longing to begin the ministry that we feel called to.

Thank you so much for praying with us as we move toward serving in missionary aviation!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Prayer and Good News

When things are going well, do you ever find yourself relying on your own efforts and failing to recognize God's hand of provision? I wish I could answer, "No!" to this question, but the truth is that I do this all the time. Although I frequently take time with my family to thank God for providing our basic needs, somehow—when it comes to certain areas of my life—I tend to rely on myself.

A big part of preparing for missionary service with MMS is developing our team of ministry partners. We hope that we can be a blessing to our ministry partners by sharing how God is working in us and through our ministry. They encourage us, pray for us, and provide the financial resources we need to serve in missions. It's this last part—raising our financial support—that can be one of the most trying aspects of preparing for service with a missionary organization. It's also an area that I can tend to take into my own hands. There are always more phone calls to make, letters to send, and presentations to give. God certainly honors our efforts and uses all of these things to draw people into partnership with us. But without his power, all of these efforts are in vain.

If you read our last blog post, you know that we have been dealing with discouragement lately. It seemed like no matter how many calls we made, or how many people we talked to, we were stuck at about 65% funding (as you may know, we cannot begin serving with MMS until we have raised the funds to cover all of our ongoing expenses). We finally reached a point of desperation. I felt ready to throw in the towel, and all I could do was pray. My family and I had, in fact, been praying all along. But a different kind of prayer is born from a place of helplessness and despondency.  My prayers took the form of heartfelt cries to the sovereign, Almighty God, for His divine intervention.

It seemed like the moment Tara and I began praying fervently, God began answering. We had several meaningful conversations. People who had been unresponsive for weeks suddenly returned our messages. And we even received some new financial commitments. It was as if God wanted to bless our efforts, but had to slow us down and remind us of our dependence on Him. He is the one who first called us to Himself. He is the one who sent us into the world as His ambassadors of reconciliation. And He is the one who will draw others into partnership with us as we respond to His call.

So, with that background, here is the good news. For the past week, we have been praying specifically that we would reach 70% funding by the end of today. Well, this afternoon we received a phone call from a family that wants to partner financially with us for $50/month. That pledge, combined with a couple others that we received earlier in the week, brought us to exactly 70 percent! This is an answer to prayer and a great encouragement to us. We thank God for his provision, and can't wait to see how He continues to meet our every need! May we continue to trust in Him, and not in ourselves only!

Friday, August 30, 2013

A Difficult Week (and a Financial Update)

I usually try to keep my posts positive, but there's no getting around it—this was a rough week! Last week was wonderful, as I took 5 days off work for to vacation with my family in SW Michigan. I thoroughly enjoyed having nine consecutive days off, and spending some quality time with my family. But on the other hand, it made coming back to my desk job very difficult. On top of that, the work I had to do this week was complete drudgery, and I came home to kids who were tired and cranky, still adjusting to being in school again.

Don't get me wrong; I have it pretty good. I have a steady job that provides for my family's needs (and more), a wonderful home, a great wife and fantastic children who are all healthy, not to mention the spiritual blessings found in knowing Christ. But, when you know that you are called to something else, it can be so difficult to continue working faithfully at what is set before you today. I've heard all the Scriptures and platitudes about living for today, working at everything as if it's for Christ (Col. 3:22-24, Eph 6:5-6), etc. And I even repeat them to myself. But I've still got this burning passion driving me forward, and sometimes I feel like I'm about to explode when I'm sitting in front of my computer at work! Maybe that seems a little dramatic, but it's not really an exaggeration!

Sure, the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence. And I know that being in full-time ministry will have its own challenges. Everything won't be perfect at MMS, despite the fact I'll be working with brothers and sisters in Christ. But I am SO looking forward to having a job where I am giving my best hours to support the work of taking the Gospel to the world, and not just making money for a corporation. I also can't wait to get off my rear end and work with my hands! And let's just face it, airplanes are awesome. I'm so excited about being in missionary aviation—something I've only dreamed of for almost years!

If you follow our blog or get our newsletter, you know that the only thing holding us back from serving with MMS immediately is our need for additional financial support. Aviation is expensive, and the people who are served by missionary aviation aren't usually able to pay for these services. That's why we rely on friends who will help support our ministry in order that we might provide aviation services to isolated people in dire need, who could never afford to pay for them. We are about two-thirds funded, but we still need to raise about $1800 per month in ongoing financial support. If you don't already support us, would you prayerfully consider it? We have friends who contribute anywhere from $10 to $200 per month. The amount is not that important. We don't want anyone to give under compulsion, but rather to give joyfully (2 Corinthians 9:6-8). We trust that God is calling people who will truly be blessed by participating with us in our ministry, just as we joyfully participate in the ministries of several friends serving around the world.

If you aren't able to give, would you think about people you know who might be excited about missionary aviation? We would love to get in contact with them, or have them get in touch with us. You can contact us using the link on this blog.

Finally, would you consider praying for us? I really believe that God has instituted prayer as a means by which he accomplishes His will and draws us closer to Himself. It's in area that I need to grow in myself, but it is of vital importance.

We thank you so much for your partnership, and look forward to seeing how God will meet our remaining need of $1800/month so we can begin serving with MMS!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

August 6, 2013 Update

Over the past few weeks we've gotten word of several individuals who have decided to partner with us by financially supporting our ministry with MMS Aviation. These have brought us up to about 65% of the monthly amount that we will need in order to begin serving with MMS. We thank God for His provision, and we are grateful for each person who is sacrificing to enable us to follow this call!

As we shared in our April newsletter, we were originally working toward the goal of having our financial support raised by the end of the summer. Unfortunately things are moving slower than we had hoped, and we lost the month of June due to medical issues. Because of this, the kids will start school here in Perrysburg at the end of this month. We would like to be able to move to Coshocton in January, but at this point we are trusting God's timing while faithfully doing our part to contact potential ministry partners.

It's a constant struggle for me to be patient, as I feel like the weeks and months are slipping through my fingers. I am so excited for the opportunity to pursue this dream that I have had for so many years, of serving in missionary aviation. But at the same time I know that my age may be an issue when I eventually apply to field programs as a new pilot/mechanic. Although I still feel pretty young, new missionary pilots have not traditionally gone onto the field much past the age of 40 (I'm currently in my mid-thirties, but have several years of preparation before serving overseas). I have to continually remind myself of God's goodness and faithfulness, and that He is in control regardless of what happens.

Would you continue to pray with us as we prepare to serve with MMS? Some of the things we pray are that God would provide the means necessary for us to begin serving, that he would prepare our for service, that we would continue to seek Him first, and that we would grow in faith and in Christ-likeness as we trust and serve Him. Thank you!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Calling all Believers

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  - Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)

What is God's will for my life? That is a question that is often asked by American Christians.Sometimes we hope to hear God's voice through inner whispers of the Spirit, or mystical signs from God. God may sometimes speak in such ways, but there is one foolproof way to hear God's voice and to know His will: by opening the Bible and reading it!

Over the past few days I've noticed a few explicit references to the will of God in Paul's epistles. Among other things, Paul noted these as God's will: to be joyful and give thanks in all circumstances; to avoid sexual immorality and live a holy life; and to live a quiet life, work hard, and provide for one's self and one's family. These may not seem as glamorous as becoming a missionary to a foreign land, but I believe they are just as pleasing to God, when done in faith and obedience to Him.

There is, however, a definite call for us to take the Good News of Jesus to all people. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus clearly made his will known to his disciples, in what has come to be known as The Great Commission. Does the call need to be any more specific than this? As Christ's Church in the present day, we are to carry on the work that was begun by those first disciples of Jesus. In the past, when I've shared with fellow believers about my desire to serve in missionary aviation, I sometimes felt pressure to explain it in terms of some mystical calling. Maybe I felt the need to prove that this call was really from God. But, although I do feel drawn specifically toward missionary aviation, I would much rather appeal to Christ's clear call to his disciples to go and make new disciples in every nation!

All throughout the Bible we see God's desire to bring people from every people group into relationship with Him. The book of Revelation indicates that one day people from every nation will, in fact, worship Him:
“You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased for God
persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth." (Revelation 5:9-10)

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. (Revelation 7:9)
As someone who gets excited about experiencing other cultures, I can't wait for that day! In the past, I have had the privilege to worship with believers from many countries. There is something to be said for enjoying the comfort of your own culture and customs, but there is nothing like gathering with believers from diverse backgrounds and traditions to worship our One God together; to see that God is so much greater than what can be expressed in any one language or cultural context!

What a privilege we have to participate in God's work of reconciling the world to himself! (1 Corinthians 5:17-20) We are humbled not only to serve Christ in this way, but by the many family and friends who have joined with us in this calling through their partnership. We are truly grateful!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

July 2013 Newsletter

We're preparing to send out our July newsletter, so those of you on our mailing list can expect to see it soon. In the meantime, feel free to take a look at our first e-newsletter. You can also view our full newsletter in PDF format.

As always, if you'd like to be added to our mailing list you can contact us by following the links at the top of this page!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Faith and Hope

The events of the past few weeks have definitely exercised our faith! But they have also caused us to lean on the hope that we have in Christ, and to humble ourselves in prayer. I am not a person who spiritualizes every little thing that happens throughout the day, but it really feels like we have been under attack these past few weeks. Just when we were gaining momentum in our ministry partner development, we encountered some huge bumps in the road.

As I mentioned in our last post, Ian had an emergency appendectomy on Memorial Day, and was hospitalized for eight days. This was a difficult experience in and of itself. After coming home, Ian seemed to be improving at first. On Father's Day, we spoke about our ministry with MMS at Hope United Methodist Church. Ian was not feeling well that morning, but made it through the day.

On Monday we took him to see the pediatric surgeon who had performed the appendectomy, and Ian was readmitted to the hospital due to an abscess that had formed. To complicate matters, the abscess was in a difficult location, and they could not easily drain it. We decided to treat him with intravenous antibiotics (which he will be on for about two weeks). As if that wasn't enough, he also tested positive for c. diff and had to be put on yet another antibiotic to treat that. Finally, they had trouble inserting his PICC line, which made for a very traumatic experience for Ian. It seemed that everything that could go wrong did go wrong.

In times like this, 1 Peter 5:6-11 comes to mind:
 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
We are so thankful for the hope and comfort that we have in Christ. There is nothing that can steal that hope away from us. It is this hope that allows those in Christ to face any situation that life (or the enemy) can throw at us. While we certainly appreciate every heartfelt expression of sympathy that has been offered to us from believers and nonbelievers alike, there is only so much hope and strength that can come from within oneself, or from the greeting card platitudes that the world has to offer. True hope—living hope—can only be found in one person.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  (1 Peter 1:3-7)
In addition to Ian's medical issues, both of our vehicles (which have been extremely reliable for the past seven years) needed repair in the past few weeks. Furthermore, the medical bills will start coming about the same time that we have a significant reduction in our household income beginning in July. I don't say these things because I want anyone to feel pity for us. God has provided us with everything we need and more. And I am aware there are many people in my community and around the world facing much more dire circumstances! I point these things out only to emphasize the fact that this feels a lot like a coordinated attack.

The upside of these trials is that we are relying more and more on God, and we have seen just how many people care for us, and are supporting and praying for us. We are so thankful for the many, many family and friends who have been faithfully praying and helping to meet our needs during this time. We could not be more blessed!

We know that in our missionary service we will face many difficult times, and perhaps the trials we are experiencing now are a blessing in disguise, preparing us for the situations we will face in the future. It is easy to take matters into our own hands when we feel that everything is under control. But the times of testing drive us to our knees, strengthen our faith, and teach us to fix our eyes on Christ. We have also come to see that there is a community of family and friends who truly love and care for us, and will be standing with us. We are very blessed!

Monday, May 27, 2013

A different kind of Memorial Day celebration

For we Americans, Memorial Day means a lot of things. To those who have lost loved ones to war it is a time of sorrow. For all of us, it is a day we remember those who have sacrificed their lives for the freedom we enjoy in this country. But this day is also an opportunity to get together with friends and family, and celebrate the beginning of the summer season. That is how we planned to spend Memorial Day, but things don't always go according to plan.

For the past couple days Ian has not been feeling well. The symptoms seemed consistent with the flu or some other "stomach bug". It seemed that he was on the mend, until last night at 3:00 am, when he was doubled over in excruciating pain. We got him to the emergency room, and the tests indicated that he had appendicitis. So, in the ambulance he went, to the nearest children's hospital for an appendectomy!

Rather than spending this morning catching candy at the Memorial Day parade, Ian is lying in an operating room undergoing surgery. This is certainly not the way we envisioned this day!

On one hand, this is a terrible way to spend a holiday. On the other hand, it is an opportunity to celebrate the life of our child. If Ian did not live in the United States, and had been born instead on the streets of a third world nation, or in a village in the jungle, who knows how bad his condition would have become—or if he would have even survived. Rather than celebrating his life, we could have been mourning Ian's death.

When I think this through, it is hard not to consider the implications of moving my family to another country. No matter where we end up, it is almost certain that we will not have immediate access to the caliber of medical care that we have in the States. But what about the people all around the world who are living and dying without hope and without Christ? Shall I ignore Jesus' Great Commission, and opt instead for the perceived safety and security of my suburban life?

I am so grateful for the life of my son, and will do whatever I can to preserve it. But I am also thankful for God's Son, who did not preserve his own life but willingly laid it down (then took it up again!) that we may have true life through Him. And we are humbled and grateful that we may be the expression of Christ to others, here in Ohio and to the ends of the earth!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

An Encouraging Day

Today has been a good day! First of all, we have finally surpassed 50% of our financial goal! We are thankful for the two new ministry partners that have joined our team and pushed us over the 50% mark. Although we still have about $2600 in monthly support to raise, we are optimistic, and there have been some very encouraging developments in the past few days.

First of all, we met with the missions committee at a local church today, and they have decided to make us their "mission of the month" for June. Not only will we have the opportunity to share about our ministry with the congregation; they will be praying for us and contributing financially toward helping us begin serving with MMS Aviation. We are very excited about this new partnership. It's always encouraging and motivating when we meet new friends who share our passion for the people of the world. Since they haven't publicized it yet, we'll keep you in suspense concerning which church I'm talking about!

This past Sunday, Pastor Dennis (our senior pastor at Grace Church) called us up front to pray for us, and challenged the congregation to financially partner with us to send us into service with MMS. We were not expecting him to do all of that, but we are very thankful for the incredible support of our home church. Not everyone is so fortunate to have a pastor and a congregation to stand behind them in such a significant way. We still don't know how the congregation will choose to financially partner with us, but we are humbled and encouraged by this outpouring of care and support.

Finally, speaking of care and support, some of our friends at Grace hosted a "Plants for Planes" plant sale on Sunday. I was impressed by all the effort that they put into this event in order to raise funds (and awareness) for our ministry. Again, I am so grateful for the people God has placed in our lives to encourage us and stand beside us as we follow His call.

Thanks to all of you who have partnered with us as we follow Christ's call to go to the world. We look forward to serving through missionary aviation, and wherever he calls us to go.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Almost half way there!

It's been a couple weeks since we've posted, so we thought we would give a brief update on our support status. Over the past couple weeks we have had a few more people join our team as monthly financial partners, and we are about 47% funded! We could surpass 50% any day now!

Thanks so much for your prayers, encouragement, and financial support! It's encouraging to have friends and family standing with us as we step out in faith, following Jesus' call to make disciples of all nations, and to be His ambassadors of reconciliation in the world.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Send Me!

We received a newsletter this week from JAARS, which is one of the many organizations using airplanes to support worldwide missions. It is always so exciting to read about the ways that aircraft are being used to further God's kingdom, and to literally save the lives of men, women and children in remote parts of the world. These stories motivate me to work hard and pray for our financial support, as we desire to be on the front lines, serving through missionary aviation.

A theme that stood out in this newsletter was the need for laborers to go and serve. In fact, JAARS currently has 40 open positions! And JAARS is only one of many organizations in need of pilots, mechanics, administrators and other support staff.

The need is great! There are people in remote parts of the world who are dying for lack of the physical and spiritual restoration that we can offer in the name of Christ. The thing is, we have the means and the tools to help them right now. But where are those who will stand up and say, "Here am I. Send me!"?

I and my family have stepped out in faith to respond to God's call. Jesus said to his disciples, "the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." (Matthew 9:37-38). We are eager to go! There are airplanes waiting to be flown and people waiting to be served. But the reality is we cannot go without friends who will partner with us, sending us out with prayer and financial support.

As much as I love to read about how God is working through missionary aviation, it can also be difficult and even heart-wrenching. I desperately yearn to go and help meet the needs that exist in missionary aviation. Reading stories from blogs and newsletters just feeds my desire even more, making the waiting—and the sitting in my cubicle day after day—nearly unbearable. Would you please pray for us as we continue to contact potential ministry partners and trust God for provision? Would you pray that God would move in the hearts of the people through whom He will meet our ongoing financial needs? And, finally, would you pray about how you might partner with us in this calling?

Thank you so much, and may God richly bless you!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

April 2013 Newsletter

We are sending out our second newsletter this week. You can get a sneak peak here. If you would like to be added to our mailing list, feel free to contact us.

I'm happy to say that our newsletter is slightly outdated already! We are now at 32% of our monthly financial goal (not 29% as reported in our newsletter). This figure does not include some additional commitments that we are aware of, which have not yet been sent to MMS.

This week we plan to make a lot of follow-up phone calls, so please pray for us and the potential ministry partners we will be contacting. The anticipation is building, and I can't wait to begin serving in missionary aviation. But I cannot begin full-time service with MMS Aviation until our monthly financial need is met. We are praying that we will reach 100% by the end of the summer. Frankly, this doesn't seem possible, but we know that God is able to multiply our efforts and bring in the finances quicker than we could expect.

Thanks for your interest in our ministry, and for your prayers offered on our behalf. May God richly bless you!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Overwhelmed with Gratitude

As we prepare to serve with MMS Aviation, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. There are days I am overwhelmed by the number of tasks on my to-do list. There are moments when I just feel like turning back to my comfortable suburban life. I sometimes become anxious about our financial support, wishing it would come together more quickly.

But today I am feeling overwhelmed by something else—I am feeling overwhelmed with gratitude. I am thankful for new ministry partners that will make it possible for my family to be Jesus' ambassadors of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:14-21) in remote corners of the world. I am grateful for brothers and sisters in Christ, who encourage and spur us on to the good works that flow from Christ in us (Ephesians 2:1-10). I'm thankful that God has opened doors to allow me to pursue a dream that I had laid down many years ago, and that in doing so I can serve Him with the gifts and passions He has blessed me with.

Time after time, God has provided for our needs, and given us the reassurance that He will continue to do so. In the past week, just when I was beginning to feel discouraged, monthly financial support came in from multiple unexpected sources. We are now one-third of the way to having our monthly financial needs met! Other people gave special gifts to help with one-time expenses.

We are equally grateful for the encouraging conversations we have had with friends, and for prayer offered on our behalf. We are convinced that prayer is crucial to sustaining us and our ministry, and we're thankful for all of our prayer partners.

We thank God that He has chosen us, saved us, brought us into His family, and given us the privilege of being His hands and feet to a world in need of Jesus. And we are thankful for every person who has come alongside us as we follow Christ and respond to His call.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

March 2 Update

It's been a while since we've posted, but it's not because nothing has been going on. I have been doing a lot of thinking about our ministry, what it means to be a disciple of Christ, where we find our significance, and our purpose and calling as Christians. I have realized that my thoughts and ideas can be subtly influenced by culture (both "Christian" and secular culture), and have been spending extra time examining what the Bible has to say about these things. Unfortunately I just haven't had time to organize my thoughts into anything I can share on this blog. Hopefully I will have something to share in the next several weeks!

We have had a few new ministry partners join us since our last update, and we are at 28% of our monthly financial goal. This does not include any pledges that have been made through our home church. We know that some members have already made prayer and financial pledges, and we are still praying for more people to partner with us. Besides Grace Church in Perrysburg, we are in contact with three other churches in our area. On March 10, we have the opportunity to meet with the missions committee at one of these churches. Please pray for us as we share our vision and calling with them, and that God would give clear direction to the ones making the decisions about partnership with us.

We look forward to sharing more as God continues to provide, and we are thankful for all of you who are supporting us in many ways as we take this step of faith!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Praying for Ministry Partners

Today I had the opportunity to share a brief ministry update with our church family. I read from 2 Corinthians 5:17-20, reminded them how we see missionary aviation as a fulfillment of our call to be Christ's ambassadors of reconciliation, and gave an update on our financial status. Finally, I talked about how we are just one part of the Body of Christ, and an extension of the community of believers. The support of this community—the Body of Christ—is crucial to our ministry.

Please pray with us that God will continue to bring new ministry partners who will support us through prayer, financial giving, and other means. We are currently about 26% funded, and can't begin serving with MMS Aviation until we reach 100% of our financial goal. Our pastor has been very encouraging, and his desire is for the people of Grace Church in Perrysburg to provide 50% of our monthly financial support. This would be an incredible blessing! We don't know how God will choose to provide, but we continue to pray and trust Him to meet our every need.

Thanks for your prayers, and stay tuned for updates as we get closer to serving with MMS Aviation.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Our First Newsletter

The first issue of our newsletter went in the mail today! If you are not on our mailing list, or just can't wait, you can view the newsletter here.

If you would like to get on our list, just contact us!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Wanted: Tools of the Trade

There are lots of preparations to be made as we get closer to serving with MMS. One of my responsibilities is to get together the tools I will need as an aircraft mechanic. MMS has provided a tool list to help me ensure that I will be well-prepared when I arrive. 

Although I have plenty of tools for home maintenance and automotive repair, I do not have many of the tools needed for aircraft maintenance. Furthermore, I will need a full set of tools dedicated to keeping at the hangar. As I keep an eye out for good deals, I also want you to know that you can support our ministry by helping me with my search. If you know of any quality tools on this list, at a good price, please get in touch with me!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Encouraging News!

After taking a couple weeks off for the holidays, life is back in full swing. This means we are once again actively inviting potential ministry partners to join us in our ministry with MMS Aviation. The process of sending letters, making phone calls, and meeting face-to-face involves a lot of work and perseverance, and we went several weeks without anyone new joining us. As much as we try to exercise patience, it can be difficult to go that length of time without any new prayer or financial support.

Well, this past week we received some great news. Several families expressed their desire to partner financially with us, for a total of $295/month! This brings our total monthly support to $1,160, or 22% of our goal. We need to have raised 25% of our monthly financial need by February, and we are now only $150 away!

We are thankful for God's provision and for each person who has chosen to invest their time and resources in the work that God has called us to. We also appreciate your prayers on our behalf, and for those who are currently serving at MMS. There are some exciting changes happening at MMS (related to the partnership with Missionary Air Group), but these changes are also creating a more intense workload for some of the administrative staff, including those who work closely with us on support development.

We're excited about how God is at work in the world, and the ways that we get to participate in reaching people with the love of Jesus Christ. Thanks for enabling us to follow this call, and we pray that you will fulfill the unique role that you were created for, whatever (and wherever) it might be.