Despite the Difficulties

By Karissa Uhlig

Mike Mower, director of the Missions at the Airport team at JAARS, wasn’t sure what to do. This year’s trip to Sun ‘n Fun was going to be different than all of the ones he’d led in the past. 

The Sun ‘n Fun event, formally known as the Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo, occurs in the spring at the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport in Florida. It is one of the largest air shows in the world, and Florida’s largest annual convention. Attendees can visit a myriad of aviation exhibits and booths—from Christian and secular organizations alike. As they learn all about aviation at the event, they can have some fun along the way, much like visitors do at our Missions at the Airport events.

Children enjoy Sun ‘N Fun

Mike’s job was more difficult this year. Because the team that normally coordinates their housing, the Aviation Missions Support Association (AMSA), was unable to do all that they usually do because of a staff shortage, Mike had to coordinate the housing himself from a distance. Thankfully, he was able to obtain housing with families who had provided a place for JAARS volunteers and staff to stay on previous trips. 

Mike also had to provide more meals for the team, another one of AMSA’s usual tasks. The difficulties finding housing and providing meals for representatives near Sun ‘n Fun didn’t stop  Mike and his team. They persisted despite the difficulties, determined to take a team to Sun ‘n Fun to share the wonderful work that the Lord is doing through JAARS. 

JAARS has been sending staff and volunteers to Sun ‘n Fun for a number of years. “People from all walks of life have an interest in aviation,” Mike said. “By having our airplanes and helicopters on exhibit we get opportunities to share with them about JAARS and how we help make Bible translation possible.” 

As they had hoped, Sun ‘n Fun provided Mike and his team with plenty of opportunities to share about what JAARS does. Mike enjoyed speaking with a pilot he had been corresponding with on Facebook. The pilot had brought his grandsons to Sun ‘n Fun so that they could get a glimpse of what it looks like to be involved in missionary aviation! Mike discussed with them how helicopters are used in support of Bible translation and told them about non-flying opportunities to serve at JAARS, such as advocacy.

Mike with the pilot and his grandsons

John Strawser, a member of Mike’s team, enjoyed talking with a group of female Civil Air Patrol cadets. He directed them to Rachael Stoner, a JAARS-trained pilot who was sharing a forum at the event on the history of women in missions aviation. The cadets appreciated this immensely.

Rachael Stoner’s forum

JAARS volunteers and staff attend events like Sun ‘n Fun to educate people about the benefits of mission aviation. We also host other events like Missions at the Airport to provide this valuable education. Come see how JAARS supports Bible translation at Sun ‘n Fun or one of our Missions at the Airport events!

Click here to see how you can attend or host a Missions at the Airport event in your area!