A Calling Takes Flight

By Karissa Uhlig

Matt and Kiara Cousins have always been surrounded by airplanes. When Matt was 14, his meeting with a missionary pilot sparked his interest in mission aviation. Longing to serve overseas like this pilot, Matt pursued a bachelor’s degree in aviation management and a master’s degree in aerospace administration. He even worked for the United States Air Force (USAF) as a civilian during college. According to Kiara, “[Matt] always says he grew up loving two things: Jesus and aviation.” 

Kiara was no stranger to airplanes either. Though she didn’t work on planes or fly them herself, her dad was in the USAF, and she spent much of her childhood in Okinawa, Japan, where her dad served. When she was thirteen, her family moved to Oklahoma. Though the move wasn’t what her family had envisioned for their next military adventure, it was crucial to God’s plan for Kiara’s life, and as it turns out, Matt’s as well. 

Matt and Kiara became friends and eventually started dating when their paths intersected in high school. The pair married in 2007 shortly after Matt completed his master’s degree. This degree enabled him to move into a management role in the USAF, where he worked until 2018. 

Matt and Kiara Cousins

While Matt focused on his job, the Lord worked behind the scenes to prepare him for his calling at JAARS. Matt’s dreams of being involved in mission aviation were about to come true, although in a different way than he had anticipated. One could say that his calling was about to take flight.

In August 2016, Matt, Kiara, and their children made the trip from Oklahoma to Waxhaw to attend a JAARS Day event. While they were here, Matt talked to the JAARS Aviation staff about how he might serve in missionary aviation. Terry Heffield, the JAARS Research and Development supervisor, told him, “We do need pilots and mechanics, but looking at your resume and the way God has equipped you over the last few years, we have another need [that you could meet].” Terry introduced Matt and Kiara to Felton Bollinger. 

Matt and Kiara and their children

Felton, the JAARS Aviation business manager, had been praying for a replacement. He had a list of qualities for his replacement that God had placed on his heart. After speaking to Matt, Felton realized that he fit every criteria on the list! 

Although Matt was not sold on the idea of being anything other than the person flying the aircraft, God had different plans for him. He brought Ephesians 2:10 to Matt and Kiara’s mind: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” They realized Matt’s training had prepared him for this very specific job.

In 2018, they accepted the position at JAARS and began raising support. God used that time to teach them both some important lessons. Their support was not coming in as fast as they had hoped, and Matt and Kiara were both discouraged. Then Kiara received a note that said, “Where God guides, he provides.” Though Kiara dismissed this saying as cliché at first, it kept showing up. After she received the note, someone else sent her an embroidered hand towel with the same saying! The day after receiving the towel, a person signed up anonymously to partner with them and left them a short note: “Where God guides, he provides.” The Lord encouraged Kiara right when she most needed it, and she still clings to this encouragement today.

The Cousins kids from bottom to top: Daisy 9, Micah 7, Jolie 6, Cyrus 3, Titus 1.

Matt had resigned from the USAF by this time, but they felt God was calling them to be generous givers—even though they had only a small amount of support raised. And when they started to give out of obedience, the Lord returned 16-fold the amount of money that they had given! The couple describes this as the moment the floodgates opened and the Lord provided exactly what they needed to follow him. Matt and Kiara firmly believe that the challenges of raising support were meant to build their faith and teach them that all provision comes from the hand of the Lord. God certainly provided for Matt and Kiara, enabling their calling to take flight! 

What might God be prompting you to do with the resources he has provided for you? Click here to see how you can serve at JAARS.