It’s Worth It

By Julia Rose

Endless hours performing seemingly fruitless work, exhaustion and drained patience, mundane tasks repeated daily: everyone faces them at some point regardless of career choice. Those who serve at JAARS are no exception, whether working with missionary kids or airplanes.

Helio-Courier landing at Shelby.

“Is it worth it, all the little things that don’t seem important?” I asked myself as I gazed out over the field of people still waiting for airplane and helicopter rides near the Shelby, North Carolina airport. It had been a long day, beginning officially for the Missions at the Airport team before eight on June 11. With the sun scorching mercilessly and warranting the use of sunscreen, just about anyone not under a tent got either a serious tan or a serious sunburn.

Landing the helicopter on the grass with a load of passengers while the Helio-Courier is on final to land. Look carefully and you’ll see the 206 holding on the runway.

Ever since the two planes, the Helio Courier and the Cessna 206, had landed at Shelby from JAARS at nine, the rides were nonstop. Even though ticket sales had ended around noon, the 40 flights continued until early evening. The R66 helicopter was equally busy taking passengers.

As an airplane loader, I had several chances to interact with first-time passengers, from toddlers to a 77-year-old man who had never flown before. The reactions of the children varied broadly: energetic impatience incapable of sitting still, nervous tears and apprehension, and vivacious curiosity displayed in endless questions.

Julia helps a passenger exit the airplane.

One girl held her mother’s hand tightly while waiting, her eyes wide as she watched the planes land and take off.

When I asked if she had been on a plane before, she shook her head nervously.

“How old are you?” I asked.

She told me she was seven and I replied, “I was six when I took my first flight, and that’s when I knew I wanted to be a pilot when I grew up!”

When her turn came, I reassured her again while making sure she was tightly buckled in. “Rachael Stoner is one of my favorite people in the whole world, and she’s an amazing pilot!”

When the Cessna 206 landed, the little girl clambered out of the plane, radiating with happiness.

“Did you have fun?” I asked, helping her down.

“Yeah!” She gave me a hug. “I liked it a lot.”

Waiting in line for a helicopter ride.

Maybe that one girl will be the pilot who flies Bibles into a community for their Scripture celebration —the first copy of Scripture in their very own language they will ever hold in their hands. The impact of any Missions at the Airport flight can never be officially determined or accounted for statistically. But if just one child remembers JAARS ten years down the road, that first flight could have ripple effects into eternity through the lives of the people who have been touched.

Or maybe the radically impacted person is the parent who didn’t fly but heard about the work that JAARS does.  Maybe it’s someone not even remotely interested in aviation, but someone who loves technology or languages or working with children.

For the pilots who flew that multitude of hours at Shelby, and for those who loaded and unloaded passengers all day in the incessant heat—was it worth it? For the sake of one future JAARS mechanic or IT programmer or writer, each of whom will have immeasurable ripples of influence, was it worth it?

The question was on my mind all weekend after hearing about the words of Robert Kennedy, brother of former president John F. Kennedy. When he visited a village on the Amazon River in 1965, he said, “A lot of people would say that these [villages] are not worth spending your life for in this isolated jungle spot.” Those who know the purpose and eternal impact of their work disagree with that statement.

As Rachael Stoner said, “It’s not about the flying.” It’s about the people, those in the community nearby and those who are unreached on the other side of the world. It’s about connecting the two, potentially through JAARS, for whatever purpose God has for them.

From veteran pilots who wholeheartedly abandoned their lives to God to first-time volunteers with their whole lives ahead of them, each one answered my question with a resounding yes: it’s always worth it to serve God and find joy in doing so.

There’s an opportunity for everyone to serve with JAARS and experience the joy in being a part of work with eternal impact! Click here to see how you can serve with JAARS.