God Can Use Our Miscues
A Story Told by John Strawser and Fred and Jodi Leman
John: We had come to Pekin, Illinois, for a Missions at the Airport event at the municipal airport. I had some details to see to, while Mike [Mower, Missions at the Airport director] went to a local radio station to record an interview that would let people know about the airplane and helicopter rides we were offering. I planned to listen to Mike’s interview while accompanying a fellow ex-pilot on an errand. Becoming concerned when I did not hear the broadcast, I called the radio station I spotted a couple of miles from the airport. The station manager told me Mike wasn’t there. I had called the wrong station! But when I began to tell the station manager about JAARS, mission aviation, and our presence at the airport, he was very interested in talking about it. So the following morning just prior to the MATA event, we went live, on the air, with unscripted segments interspersed with music.
Jodi: I was up earlier than usual that morning. When I turned on the radio and heard a man talking about airplanes and helicopters instead of the worship music I expected, it grabbed my attention immediately. I reached for my cell phone and began to send text messages to my husband. I told him that God had spoken very clearly to me that we needed to look into JAARS.
Fred: I work as a pilot, and was employed by local Agriculture CO-OP to run the crop-dusting branch of the business. I have flown a helicopter for the past nine years, including five years of aerial application. I loved my job and am thankful for the opportunity to have done it, but Jodi and I had felt for some time that we were at a crossroads in life. We had been praying about our future and where God wanted us. We had never heard of JAARS, but when Jodi texted me about this event at the airport, I was intrigued and excited. I looked up JAARS right away and explored what they do.
Jodi: In my heart I was already saying, “YES!”
Fred: I went to the Pekin airport that evening. The first person I talked to was John Strawser. He challenged me to be certain of God’s calling. I also enjoyed talking to JAARS pilots and learning about the work they do to help Bible translation. I began to feel pretty sure that God was starting to turn us down the path of aviation mission support. This was confirmed when a JAARS aviation recruiter told me that there was a big need for helicopter pilots. It was as if God took us by the shoulders and turned us in a very specific direction.
Jodi: That was almost two years ago. Today we are members of Wycliffe Bible Translators, engaged in raising our financial and prayer partnership teams. We hope to go soon to JAARS for Aviation Pre-Field Orientation and other preparatory classes. We expect to go to Papua New Guinea, where helicopter pilots are greatly needed. We talk with our children about people who don’t have the Bible in a language that touches their hearts. They think that’s sad, and they are excited to be a part of helping people get the Bible.
John: That day in Illinois, after I called the wrong radio station, we were overwhelmed with the turnout at the airport. We had 500 to 700 people there, and many said, “We heard you on the radio!” I’m glad to be used by God. And I’m thankful he can even use my miscues.
John Strawser is the assistant director of Missions at the Airport.