Coming Full Circle
Mission work is in Zac Barkman’s blood. His grandfather Butch Barkman served as a pilot-mechanic and in other roles in Peru and then as the president of JAARS from 1987 to 1996 and as interim president and mentor to Woody McLendon from 2010-2012.
Zac’s parents served in Papua New Guinea (PNG) for most of his adolescence, and there he saw firsthand people’s need for God’s Word in their own language.
From an early age, Zac wanted to serve overseas, but he didn’t know in what capacity until his senior year of high school in Ukarumpa, PNG. During Zac’s last semester, he had the opportunity to take a manual arts class. “That confirmed even more that I’d like to work with my hands and work with metal,” Zac said.
He also was able to work with aviation for about nine weeks at the hangar in Ukarumpa, and God used that time to show him that aviation maintenance was the right path to pursue. “Not often as a missionary kid do you feel like you’re part of your parents’ calling and mission,” Zac recalled, “but I felt that [calling] when I was out there working on the planes. That’s what gave me the aviation bug.”
After graduating from Liberty University with an aviation maintenance degree, Zac needed more experience before serving overseas. Through friends, Zac heard about the Aviation Maintenance Technician Fellow position at JAARS and applied.
The aviation staff have kept Zac busy! He has done sheet-metal fabrication and engine-component overhauls, worked on a fuel-tank leak on the PC-6, performed two inspections on the helicopter with Paul Wiedenfeld, and more.
When Zac arrived in July 2022, the JAARS aviation staff conducted a maintenance consultation for him and developed a curriculum so that he can be evaluated before entering the JATO|Maintenance program. This program fills the gaps in a maintenance specialist’s training, equipping him or her to serve overseas.
Zac has also had the opportunity to attend the turbine-engine heavy-maintenance course and will be attending the 16-week Pre-Field Orientation Course with seven other families.
But Zac’s favorite project so far during his 11-month stint as a Fellow has been helping to restore the Helio Courier that has been in the service of JAARS since 1972, when it served in Ecuador. Because Zac’s grandpa flew and worked on Helios in Peru, it seems as if his family has come full circle. “It’s not the same exact plane, but it’s the same type of plane, and there have been a few times where I’ve thought, ‘This is really cool.’”
As a Fellow, Zac took the Intercultural Communications Course (ICC)—a four-week course that trains and prepares mission workers to serve the Lord in multicultural, multigenerational teams, whether overseas or stateside. “I think every missionary and missionary kid should go through ICC because you learn so much,” Zac said. “I learned a lot about myself, the way I see myself, and what kind of cultural background I see [the world] through. It was really impactful.”
Zac is thankful for his time at JAARS as a Fellow, for how God has used it to put even more of a burden on his heart for overseas missions.
He’s also thankful for the opportunity to learn more about aviation maintenance in a safe environment: “I would have been more intimidated to get a job out in the secular world than to come here and have an entry-level job at JAARS. Part of it is because these are people I know and I’m most comfortable with [them], but another part of it is it’s a healthy environment of believers who encourage each other.”
God is raising up the next generation to be part of the work he is doing overseas. What a blessing it is that JAARS and people like you who give and serve can be a part of God’s plan for young people like Zac.
Interested in being part of the next generation that eases burdens, reduces barriers, and delivers God’s Word to those who don’t have it? Know someone who would be interested? Check out JAARS Fellows.