Impassable Mountains or Bountiful Blessings?

By Rachel Greco

When challenges rise like impassable mountains, it’s tempting to cry out to God in despair. But the Lord often transforms these challenges into something more beautiful than we could ever have imagined. 

God recently turned mountainous challenges of storms, governmental restrictions, and other hardships into blessings more beautiful than three mission partners could have dreamed.

The First Mountain: New Fees in Cameroon 

The first challenge arose in the tropical humidity of Africa. SIL Cameroon Aviation, a partner of JAARS, had expressed a need to replace their aging Cessna 206 with a newer one. JAARS had purchased one from Ethnos360 and had been modifying it to meet SIL Cameroon’s specifications. 

SAMAIR Peru’s original Cessna 206 floatplane before it got destroyed

All was going as well as could be in the midst of a pandemic when SIL Cameroon ran into a big obstacle: new government fees associated with the importation and storage of AVGAS–the fuel needed to keep the newly modified Cessna 206 in the air.  

When it was still bound for Cameroon, the 206 was painted with the SIL Cameroon paint colors.

Daryl Young, the department manager of Cameroon, notes that for 27 years prior to this, “[SIL] Cameroon Aviation has been blessed by the faithful efforts of wonderful JAARS colleagues who have prepared and shipped barrels of aviation gasoline (AVGAS) [to us in Cameroon]. This provided reliable, high quality and very affordable AVGAS to fuel our aircraft.” However, the makeup of their fleet has now changed and the other two aircraft in their fleet use jet fuel, not AVGAS.

With the new fees, SIL Cameroon’s plans for the newly modified Cessna 206 came to a crashing halt. Nowhere in the country could they buy AVGAS at a reasonable price, and the fees made it much too costly to continue importing it from JAARS. The Cessna they were counting on would have been grounded within a few short months after draining the amount of AVGAS available on-hand. 

SIL Cameroon Aviation realized it would have to discontinue its dependence on AVGAS. With heavy hearts, the aviation team decided they couldn’t afford to accept the Cessna 206 JAARS was modifying for them.  

The Second Mountain: The Work at JAARS Interrupted 

SIL Cameroon’s decision left JAARS with an imposing mountain as they wondered what to do with the now-homeless Cessna 206 in their hangar. “Much work by many faithful servants had been invested at the JAARS hangar in Waxhaw, NC,” Daryl said. And of course, the work on the Cessna 206 couldn’t happen without people like you giving to JAARS Aviation Solutions. Thank you! 

Now JAARS would need to find a new home for this valuable asset. 

The Third Mountain: A Storm Hits SAMAIR Peru

The last challenge occurred deep in the Amazon rainforest where SAMAIR Peru, South America Mission’s aviation group and a longstanding partner of JAARS, serves. They are the only mission aviation provider in Peru. Their central location near Pucallpa uniquely positions them to reach all areas of the Peruvian jungle with their aircraft. One of their planes, a Cessna 206 floatplane, is a vital link between towns and cities and the outlying, isolated villages that dot the banks of Peru’s countless rivers and lakes.

SAMAIR Peru shares Christ’s love and God’s Word with these villagers by performing emergency medical flights, discipling and teaching, and facilitating an Old Testament Bible translation project for a language group located about a week away from Pucallpa by boat. Via the Cessna 206, the village is only two-to-three hours away. SAMAIR plans to see this project to completion, and the floatplane is a vital part of the plan. 

Then…in November of 2020, SAMAIR’s 206 was destroyed.

The damage done by the storm on SAMAIR Peru’s Cessna 206

An uncommonly violent storm raged across their center in Pucallpa. The wind wrenched the roof off the building, then slammed it down on the plane, damaging the Cessna 206 beyond repair. 

The entire SAMAIR staff at Pucallpa agreed that they had to replace the Cessna so they could continue serving the people in this region. But how?

The hangar that collapsed on SAMAIR Peru’s Cessna 206

Conquered Mountains Become Blessings 

Only God could conquer these impassable mountains and turn them into blessings–blessings for more people than any of these partners could have possibly imagined. 

Due to SIL Cameroon’s unforeseen decision to forgo the Cessna 206, and with the help of people like YOU who give to JAARS Aviation Solutions, JAARS will now be sending the Cessna 206 to another partner organization that has a greater need for it—SAMAIR Peru. 

According to Craig Gahagen, the chief pilot of SAMAIR Peru, “Having this aircraft deployed to Peru is paramount for us to continue serving the local and missionary communities with aviation service into very remote areas of the Amazon rainforest. Because Peru is the birthplace of the Amazon, there are hundreds of rivers and tributaries and lakes where people live. Having a float plane gives unparalleled accessibility to these areas and to these people.”

JAARS aircraft mechanics are now continuing the refurbishment of the Cessna 206 according to SAMAIR’s specifications–including painting the Cessna in the colors of SAMAIR and adding their logo. Once it reaches Peru—hopefully at the end of August—the mechanics there will add the necessary floats.

JAARS mechanics Don van den Berg and Jeyson Braun work on the Cessna 206 that will now be going to SAMAIR Peru

God’s broader, more beautiful plan included blessings for JAARS and Cameroon in unexpected ways as well. 

JAARS mechanics were replacing an engine in the Cessna for Cameroon, but SAMAIR doesn’t need this type of engine and plans to provide one of their own engines. JAARS had planned to buy a more powerful, smoother-running engine for one of our training aircraft in a year or two. But since SAMAIR doesn’t need the original engine, we can install it in our training aircraft now instead of waiting. Praise the Lord for how he provides!

He is also providing abundantly to SIL Cameroon. The new governmental regulations also stipulated that SIL Cameroon can no longer operate commercial flights. Until now, commercial flights had helped keep the costs low for Bible translators and other mission workers who use their aviation service. Now their fees would be much higher. However, with some of the cost of the Cessna 206 covered by SAMAIR, JAARS can redeploy funds intended for refurbishing the Cessna. Instead we can provide subsidies for Cameroon’s mission flights through our Aviation Solutions

God turned the mountainous challenges SAMAIR Peru, SIL Cameroon, and JAARS faced into huge blessings!  God has used your gifts and the flexibility of JAARS to bless more people. 

“We praise God for his provision to the SAMAIR Peru program,” Daryl says. “Today I rest easy in the conviction that he is faithful and always good.”

Thank YOU for helping give JAARS the flexibility to make sudden changes and meet the needs of our overseas partners when you give to our Solutions!

Please consider giving to Aviation Solutions so we can be ready for when God changes our plans again.