Also invited to the missions summit was Jeff Hartensveld, Director of Mobilization for AGWM. Jeff spent more than 20 years as a church planter in Indonesia before coming back to the States to serve in his current role. He gave a very encouraging message in Sunday morning's services, and we had the opportunity to interact with him throughout the week. During one of these interactions, we discovered an interesting connection with MMS Aviation. As I told Jeff about my plans to serve in missionary aviation, he told me how valuable the airplane was in Indonesia, particularly after the tsunami in 2004. In his words, "I was platinum on MAF [Mission Aviation Fellowship]". As it turns out, the airplane that I helped to rebuild and send to Suriname (see page 2 of MMS's latest newsletter) was one of the airplanes that Jeff utilized after the 2004 tsunami! It was exciting for me to meet someone who had been a passenger on the very airplane I worked on, and the type of airplane I will be flying in a few years. This was also a validation of the importance of missionary aviation in advancing world missions, especially to those who have never heard of missionary aviation.
There are many things I could say as I reflect on the week, but I'll just pick a few:
- Bridging denominational borders
- I grew up in the Assemblies of God church (at Calvary, in fact), and that's where I first gained a heart for world missions.
However, Tara and I have attended churches of various denominations as we moved from place to place, and MMS Aviation has no denominational affiliation. While Christian denominations still have their place, it is encouraging to see different churches and organizations working together for the common goal of making Christ known to every nation. We were the only non-A/G missionaries at the missions summit, yet we were embraced by everyone we met.
- It's okay to dream big
- If you know my story, you may recall that my desire was to begin training as a missionary pilot right after high school. That didn't happen, and instead I ended up going to college at my last-choice school while living at home (mainly to avoid going into debt). As it turned out, I had a great experience there, and met my wife at Toledo. Nevertheless, I still had to deal with the pain of giving up my dream of taking the Gospel to remote frontiers through aviation. Since then, it's been difficult for me to "dream big", for fear that I will have to go through the same disappointment all over again. But as Tara and I reflected on our week, we started dreaming about ways that God could bring together our passions and gifts (along with some others in the Church) in a unique and exciting way. I can't elaborate here, but you can be praying that God would pave a way into a place that currently seems impenetrable—one that we would love to invest our lives in.