A New Mission Aviation Training Program

By Rachel Greco

Jesus’ Call

“Come, follow me,” Jesus says as he looks at 12 modern-day disciples, “and I will make you fishers of men.”

They 12 leave their families, their comforts, and all their worldly possessions behind, and half of them follow Jesus into the cockpits of six aircraft. The other half pick up wrenches.

Yes. Jesus has great need for such modern-day disciples! Many of the people who still need God’s Word and love today live beyond the reach of an airline flight, boat charter, or bus route. Often, the only way to reach them is by helicopter or short-takeoff-and-landing (STOL) aircraft.

Many young people who are called into mission aviation today want to make a difference—to reach the unreached—after they graduate, but they are frustrated by a years-long wait to be able to. They must either gain more experience or raise their own support, or both—delaying their service overseas and also delaying the opportunity for people at the ends of the earth to hear the gospel.

JAARS wants to cover that gap—that last mile—between pilots’ and maintenance specialists’ lack of experience and the places where they can fruitfully serve overseas.

A New Mission Aviation Training Program: The Apprentices

The backs of three people's heads-two men and one woman-as they work on a PT-6 engine
Apprentices will sharpen their technical skills through courses like the PT-6 engine class.

Through our new mission aviation training program, the Apprentice program, we will provide on-the-job training—including a salary—that will equip six pilots and six maintenance specialists to serve overseas. They will be ready to make a difference only a few years after receiving their certifications.

“The apprenticeship program is designed to take aircraft maintenance specialists and pilots with their initial certifications who don’t have experience yet and have them learn from JAARS instructors and staff who do have experience overseas and prepare them for what they’re going to face when they get to the mission field,” said B.J. Diggins, the JAARS aviation training manager.

One of the unique aspects of the program is that each apprentice will receive an individualized training plan to bridge the gap between where they are and where they need to be in two years so they’re ready for deployment to one of our remote hubs. Regardless of where they go—the rainforests of Africa, the Pacific, or elsewhere—they’ll be reaching the unreached with the gospel and God’s love.

During the first year of their training, apprentices will learn the core foundational skills and abilities that define what a JAARS pilot or maintenance specialist is. And they will communicate with JAARS staff about the best location for them to serve.

During the second year of apprenticeship, they’ll receive aircraft-type specific and field-specific training that will build on that core foundation.

Training the Whole Person

Realizing that apprentices, like everyone else, will have bad days, frustrations, and sinful tendencies, the program ministers to the entire person. B.J., as a pilot, loves to work on the machine. “But the truth is, if if I’m not taking care of myself emotionally, spiritually, and physically,” he explains, “those areas of my life will ultimately affect how I operate the aircraft. JAARS [will] spend a lot of time focusing on the whole person.”

Apprentices will learn from experienced pilots who have flown overseas.

Each apprentice will be going to the literal ends of the earth, to places that are spiritually dark. In addition to logistical challenges, apprentices will experience spiritual warfare, so we want them to be well prepared for such encounters.

As part of the training of the whole person, the apprentices will attend our Intercultural Communication Course to get a solid foundation of cultural and spiritual training. They will also receive safety and security training, language acquisition, and one-on-one discipling so they can thrive on the mission field. “We want to make sure that they have a good, solid, biblical foundation so that they can start now in practicing the spiritual disciplines which will enable them to stand firm once they are deployed,” explained Paige Williams, the director of recruitment and next gen initiatives.

Another important aspect of training the whole person is that each apprentice will build a prayer team. “They’re going to need a group of people and prayer surrounding them, both during that training time and once they’re on the field,” Paige said.

After the apprentices’ two years of mission aviation training at JAARS, they will be deployed to a hub to work with other apprentices and experienced mission aviators. They will serve for at least three years, setting up an aviation program and using aircraft to reach the unreached with the gospel, making a difference for Christ.

Are You Ready to Heed Christ’s Call?

Are you a lover of God, aircraft, and missions? Are you ready to heed Christ’s call to forsake everything else for the sake of following him—even to the most difficult places on earth so that all people may hear the Good News? If so, then apply for the Apprenticeship today, before the deadline, March 31!