Sometimes we convince ourselves that maybe God isn’t paying attention and that if we just behave ourselves and don’t cause a ruckus, we’ll pass through the pearly gates without any hard questions.
The thing is, sometimes what you think goes unnoticed will be brought up again, and before the worst possible audience.
This brings me to a story that happened about 4,000 miles from where I’m sitting right now, back before we had children and traveling for the fun of it was still a possibility. It was a cold, rainy day in Alaska…
The thing was that it was July and yet it was still about 45 degrees and raining in Anchor Point. It had been raining all week and I was about sick of it. Janice was too.
“I thought you said it gets warm in Alaska.” Janice shivered, scowled, and then sighed.
“Apparently only if you get caught in a forest fire.” I tried a small dosage of humor to cheer her up. Besides, forest fires are a real possibility in Alaska in July. Well, maybe not this particular July.
“Mmmmm….” Janice closed her eyes and smiled in delight as she imagined herself next to a raging forest fire. I hid the matches, just in case.
We were in Alaska visiting my brother Matt and his family. Since his family was living in a little cabin that had a style reminiscent of Laura Ingalls Wilder, there was not enough room for us – unless we wanted to sleep in the kitchen sink. We did not and so Matt put us up in his RV which was parked halfway in the woods on the edge of the clearing where the cabin was. It was better than a kitchen sink, that’s for sure, but smelled similar. It had ferried a family of six from Pennsylvania, a 4,400 mile trip, a few months before and so we didn’t blame the RV personally for the way it smelled. It’s hard to maintain your hygiene when children and bags of groceries are thrown inside of you and violently blended together by the bumpy Alaska Highway. We just tried to ignore the smell but that was hard considering my pregnant wife could smell the molecular makeup of a mushroom from a thousand yards away.
Anyway, not wanting to contribute to the smorgasbord of smells that Janice was dealing with, I decided to take a shower. We were going out later that evening anyway. I’d get a jump on the mad dash that always ensued moments before we were to leave for any destination whatsoever. Halfway through my shower I was lathered head to toe in cheap body wash when the shower abruptly stopped. The water supply had run out! Matt must have forgotten to hook up the water. I was standing there wide eyed and shivering. What now?
Then I remembered that Matt and his family were gone. The cabin was empty and there was a perfectly usable shower inside the cabin! I peeked my head out of the shower. “Hey Janice! Matt’s are visiting somebody right? There’s no one in the cabin?”
We were in the middle of nowhere. The closest neighbors were a mile away. Why complicate things? The cabin was five hundred feet away. Just make a run for it! Who could see you? A bear? What’s the worse that could happen?
I cautiously opened the RV door, verified Matt’s vehicle was gone, and then lit like a galloping gazelle for the front door of the cabin, leaving a trail of bubbles dancing in the Alaska breeze. I finished my shower and wandered back to the RV feeling as fresh as the rain that drizzled around me.
Later that evening Janice and I were hanging out with Matt’s family in the Laura Ingalls Wilder cabin. Matt was working on his computer. “Hey,” he announced to the family, “Let’s see what animals we got on the game cameras this week.”
We all gathered around the computer to see what ferocious Alaska wildlife had happened past Matt’s cameras. “I set up cameras all around the cabin here to see what we have snooping around in the middle of the night.” I smiled. Cool! Suddenly a realization hit me and a pit of dread dropped into my stomach. Uh oh.
“Uh… Where exactly are those cameras?”
And that’s the feeling so many people I believe will have at Judgement Day. That feeling of suddenly realizing that pictures of yourself stark naked running like a gazelle across the Alaska wilderness will be displayed for all the world to see. God, you’ve been watching me this whole time? Oh no!
Read the whole story of that ill fated Alaska trip here: The Miracle of Life and the Madness of Pregnancy
Actually, unbeknownst to me, like a hapless bank robber I managed to avoid the cameras and no one was traumatized. Still, a ton of people in this world aren’t going to get off so easily. Over 4 billion people are considered unreached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If, as Christians, we claim to care for people who are destined for hell, and yet don’t get involved in God’s plan to reach those people, we either don’t believe God’s promise of judgment or we’re awful monsters who don’t care if billions of people end up in a lake of eternal fire.
The thing is that God doesn’t expect us to singlehandedly save billions of people. But He does expect us to help. How? Where? There’s needs everywhere, how on earth do you know where to start?
As we’ve been following God into mission aviation, He’s been showing us specifics to the general call to missions both Janice and I had when we were young. We’re not exactly sure where we’ll end up after our apprenticeship at MMS Aviation is over but we are getting some ideas.
I’ve always wanted to help reach the unreached people groups of the world. Logically, in my feeble brain, that seems like the where the most manpower is needed. The Bible is the most important tool in reaching people with Christ and so the first step to reaching the world is getting the Bible into their heart language. And this is why we like Wycliffe Bible Translators. They’re hard at work reaching unreached people groups. However, we aren’t planning being Bible translators. You may not realize it, but airplanes are a critical tool in getting translation teams to the isolated regions where these unreached tribes are located. And wherever you have an airplane, you’ll soon need a mechanic.
Wycliffe doesn’t do anything with airplanes. Instead, Wycliffe partners with an organization that specializes in transportation services that Wycliffe may have. JAARS (Jungle Aviation and Radio Services) flies airplanes and helicopters, they provide boats, four wheel drive vehicle training, radio supplies, recording studios (for translation work), satellite uplinks, and more all in support of Bible translation. This is the organization we are considering joining.
A recruiter for JAARS, swung by the hangar at MMS the other day and we had a long chat while leaning on my toolbox. I find the best chats happen around a toolbox. If I remember right, he said they’re expecting to need over 80 mechanics in the next five years. And that’s just JAARS, that doesn’t include other mission organization’s needs. There’s a need and there’s a vision. We want to be part of that.
If we do decide to join JAARS, we have to pass the application process and I’ll have to do a Technical Evaluation (TE) before I can become a Maintenance Specialist on the mission field. We are planning on dragging the Dodge Caravan down to Waxhaw, North Carolina for a tour at the JAARS headquarters sometime in March to see if God points in any particular direction.
Pray that God would direct us and prepare us for the next step, wherever that may be. We’re excited!
From a little hamlet in Ohio,