God of Big Dreams

By Julia Rose Cagasan

While most people come to JAARS to serve, JAARS went to Nard Pugyao. As a youth, Nard helped clear an airstrip for his village in the northern part of the Philippines. The airstrip brought a JAARS pilot and translators, whose work on the Isnag Gospel of Mark later brought Nard to belief in Christ.

Bayugao, Nard’s birthplace

Nard’s newfound belief prompted him to pray for God’s provision for a dream that seemed unrealistic: high school. God answered his prayer with both the provisions and a flight to his new high school in Mindanao, in the southern part of the Philippines. It was the first of many instances where God would provide beyond what Nard could ask or imagine.

Nard and his siblings

During his first flight spanning the 900 miles to Mindanao, Nard was terrified for his life—flying was for the birds! “When I landed, I said, ‘Not me! Not ever again.’” But God changed that with pivotal words from a JAARS pilot: “One day we might not be welcome in your country. You’ve got to go learn to do what I do so you can come back and fly.” 

Despite enjoying airplane watching when not in school, Nard still believed he wasn’t meant to fly: he was content on the ground, in the jungles with a machete. But God slowly changed the desires of his heart until becoming a missionary pilot was his dream. Nard had no money to pursue this dream, but he believed in God’s faithfulness to provide. 

The Isnag translator faithfully mentored Nard, encouraging him to dream big and see where God would take him. Knowing five languages put Nard at a unique advantage to consider becoming a Bible translator, creating a crossroads: aviation or Bible translation? After applying to several universities in the United States, Nard prayed that God would make the path clear to him. 

Not only did God provide several thousand dollars to get Nard to the U.S., he also used an anonymous donor to cover the costs of Nard’s airplane mechanic’s license training at LeTourneau University before he went on to Moody Bible Institute in Chicago! It was clear God was guiding him to be a pilot with JAARS. A little while later in Waxhaw, Nard met Sandy Rose, a missionary kid from California. They married and joined Wycliffe in 1977. 

Eight years after he had left the Philippines, Nard returned to do something only God could have orchestrated: fly the newly-translated New Testament in his language to his people in the community where he grew up. Although nothing could possibly compare to such a flight,  another highlight of being the JAARS pilot who made that flight was his understanding of the people in the villages to which he flew. He knew exactly how it felt to have the translator leave for an undetermined amount of time, and he knew how it felt to be left alone with newfound faith. 

Nard delivers God’s Word to the Philippines

Now, Nard’s passion is to fulfill the need local churches have to be subsistent and sustainable after translators leave. It’s another big dream that only God can make possible, as he has done throughout Nard’s life. And God is still working in Nard’s village: the translation team finished checking and revising the Isnag Old Testament on July 7, 2021. Praise God with us!

Now retired from flying with JAARS, Nard stays busy, urging the next generation to rise up, inspiring and investing in them at mission conferences and other special occasions like the JAARS Missions at the Airport events. Using the five languages he knows, he’s also active with the English as a Second Language program at his church. He continues to dream big, knowing God will make a way according to his will.

JAARS is helping fulfill the dreams of those whose deepest desire is Scripture in their language! Click here to see where you can serve with JAARS. 

Watch Nard share more of his story in this video on Facebook.