Serving people didn’t always matter to me.
I was always the little boy manically running outside with every roar overhead, pointing at the sky, wanting to someday fly.
My childhood reeked of jet exhaust and hot oil as I begged my parents to let me watch everyday air traffic at the local airport. Like a little nerd, I obnoxiously identified every aircraft, because I’d worn out each aviation book within range.
Learning of missionary aviation in middle school, I instinctively knew what I wanted. I’d be a hero! It would be non-stop adventure!
In high school, I contacted several missionary aviation organizations, asking them for career advice. I took a few flight lessons. By junior year, I was set on attending an undergrad program in Texas strongly recommended for missionary aviation.
In college, surrounded by some of the finest aviation professionals I’d ever known, I learned to fly and maintain aircraft. I earned a plethora of FAA certificates and ratings. Yet as my instructors and professors filled my head with airplanes, they challenged me to examine my motivations, and evaluate my faith. And I saw an aviation-saturated heart filled with…
Other people were mostly unimportant to me. Studying to become a missionary pilot was just a polished, shiny external wrapper on a selfish, rotten heart that craved recognition and adventure. Airplanes weren’t the problem, just an obvious symptom of self-worship.
I mourned. I was missing out on true connections with others because my faith was lopsided. But God didn’t leave me there in the emptiness.
I had friends and mentors who helped me more fully realize the grace offered through Jesus Christ. I began to let my love for God, and people, fill the selfish parts of my heart. That calling led me to people. After graduation, I left aviation to serve college students in eastern Europe. And I didn’t mind, because serving others was much better than flying.
But still, when I heard the roar of airplanes overhead, the boy inside me came alive… and I ran outside once again just to peek into an old passion. Aviation was still in my heart.
After two years overseas, I worked with prospective students at my Texas alma mater. When asked to primarily serve aviation students, I nearly died. Work in aviation again? In a relationship-oriented role? Perfect!
“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” These are not just words from Psalm 37. This is a promise fulfilled in my life. When I laid aviation aside to fully pursue a walk with God, I got aviation back!
Now I’m serving at Spokane Turbine Center, a professional missionary aviation training organization where my passions for aviation and people converge. As in my previous job, I’m in a relationship-focused role where I talk about aviation, but I’m not actually flying anything other than my desk.
That is, until next week, when I take the same professional aviation courses we offer real missionary pilots. I’m excited to tell the Spokane Turbine Center story, and make that little boy who wanted to fly come alive again. I’ll continue posting as I begin our courses next week.