In the Big and Little Things

By Rachel Greco

Many years ago, God gave Cesar and Cathrim Souza, a Brazilian couple, a longing to serve in Africa with AIM Air*. The path has been filled with hills and valleys, but they’ve seen God’s faithfulness and presence throughout their journey.

About twenty years ago, Cesar was first called to Africa. God told him through a pastor that he would serve there. At the time, Cesar was training to be a pilot for the Brazilian mission, Asas de Socorro—a JAARS aviation mission partner. Cesar had grown up in a traditional church, so he was unaccustomed to people speaking for God. He continued pursuing his dream of mission aviation with Asas.

After Cesar and Cathrim married, a different pastor told them, “[Cesar] will be a pilot in the Amazon. Then God will take you for a little time in the U.S., and then you will go to the Muslims.”

Cathrim and Cesar Souza with their children

The couple then served with Asas de Socorro for about eighteen years. “We followed God, step by step,” Cathrim said.

While serving in Brazil, they almost forgot that calling from the Lord to go to Africa.

But one day, Cathrim was praying about their ministry because she felt discontent. “Asas for us was like a first house,” she explained. “We really loved that, but 18 years after this first calling to Cesar, I was beginning to feel like it’s not my place here [anymore].”

Cathrim knew it wasn’t her job to give directions to their family; that was Cesar’s role as the leader of their family. So she began to pray about him: “God, you called me for a different situation, but I don’t know what.” She didn’t think Cesar would change his mind since he wanted to serve with Asas until retirement. Cathrim knew that if Cesar changed his mind, it must be from God.

One day Cesar watched a video from Missionary Alliance** about an airplane in north Kenya. The people didn’t have a crew for the aircraft, so Cesar thought, “We really need to pray about that.” He didn’t give the situation any more thought until a week later.

During his personal quiet time, God reminded Cesar about the video. “It was really special,” Cathrim says, “because since Cesar’s traditional, God told him [of his calling] through the Bible.” The Lord reminded Cesar of the times when pastors had told them about their call to Africa. Then, Cesar knew this was where God was leading them next.

So in 2017 Cesar and Cathrim joined AIM, the first time anyone outside of the U.S. or Canada had attempted to join AIM’s aviation branch known as AIM Air. They soon learned there was no fast, easy, straight way to Africa for the Souzas. Initially, all AIM Air pilots start with a JAARS technical evaluation and then receive Pre-Field Orientation training at JAARS. But Cesar needed to polish up his English before he could take the evaluation and become an official AIM Air pilot.

The Souzas came to Georgia last year to study English. But in December, before they could finish their English classes, the agency surprised them by saying, “I’m sorry, but we are closing our doors in the U.S.”

Cesar working on the Cessna 206 that’s headed to Cameroon

With nowhere to go, the Souzas turned to some friends they’d known in Brazil: Craig Russel and BJ Diggins, who now both serve at JAARS. The men welcomed the family to the JAARS campus and Cesar helped out in the hangar. He also had the opportunity to attend the Pre-Field Orientation courses to learn English. “Since I have arrived here, I’ve had the opportunity to do some courses and training that will [help] me make good decisions in my ministry as a pilot. In this time I have learned more about God and his support in all areas of my life and family. [He used] our new friends to show us how great he is.”

Although Cesar had trouble understanding some of the English, he enjoyed the maintenance classes—most of which took place online due to COVID-19.

Cesar working in the paint booth at JAARS

Throughout the most recent difficulties of learning a new language and culture and waiting on God’s timing, God has shown himself faithful to the Souzas in both the big things and the details. “When I’m missing something,” Cathrim explains, “God gives me a good surprise. It’s simple, but I know that God gave me that just [to] show me his presence in our lives. He’s sufficient in our life with [the] details.”

What a blessing that JAARS gets to be one of those details shaping the Souzas’ path to Africa! God-willing, they’ll be back next year so Cesar can take his technical evaluation and complete Pre-Field Orientation as an AIM Air pilot.

If you’d like to be one of the details God uses to spread his kingdom through JAARS, click here.

*Africa Inland Mission, a mission partner of JAARS

**An organization formed of mission organizations in Brazil