Planting the Seed
WANTED: Experienced pilots willing to fly into remote airstrips carved out of mountainsides. Aircraft mechanic certification required. Must be willing to relocate to remote locations. Pay will be minimal.
This could be a want ad seeking mission aviators willing to serve the roughly 600 million people who still have little-to-no Scripture in the language they understand best. Because most Bibleless people live in remote, hard-to-reach locations, translators and humanitarian workers must rely on trained pilots and mechanics to provide safe, reliable transportation to reach these “roadless people.”
This job is hard to fill. The miracle (or evidence of God at work) is that so many pilots and mechanics sacrifice so much to do the work of the Lord. Our JAARS mission is to give these dedicated servants the best aviation training possible. The training is challenging, but harder yet is finding young people who will be future missionaries. That’s Brigade Air’s role.
Brigade Air was founded in 2000 to introduce teenagers to aviation and encourage them to serve the Lord. During one-week summer camps held throughout the United States, teens turn in their electronic devices and focus on missionary aviation and the important role it plays in Bible translation and humanitarian aid. Students learn aviation basics during ground sessions using interactive educational programs, instructional videos, navigational tools, and wall posters. The campers then take these lessons into the air, flying with volunteer pilots in small aircraft.
Brigade Air focuses on junior and senior high school youth to make a lasting impression on them before they know what their future holds. Bruce Wolff, founder and Executive Director of Brigade Air, explains the importance of “planting the seed” early: “Youth today are making big decisions earlier in life,” he points out. “With the advent of internet access, everything moves faster for them. At Brigade Air we provide a fun and exciting experience designed for them while also giving them an opportunity to learn about a world that needs Christ and how they can be used by God.”
In its 20-year history, Brigade Air has challenged over 3,400 campers in 168 summer camps. JAARS is one of the many Brigade Air partners who host these camps. Brigade Air recruits campers, ensures volunteer pilots and aircraft meet safety standards, and provides the curriculum. JAARS provides an airfield, classrooms, food, and lodging. Volunteer pilots donate their time and aircraft.
There are other youth aviation camps around, but “they are expensive and have a different orientation than ours,” explains Wolff. “They have no Biblical component, which is the backbone of our program. Our purpose is to excite them about what God may be calling them to do.”
Making the camps affordable is a Brigade Air commitment. Wolff explains how they do this: “We give our youth introductory flights with experienced pilots, but it is not flight instruction. All our pilots are unpaid volunteers, and all the planes (except one) are loaned to us, so this cuts expenses. Our partners provide the venue, so we’re able to offer a camp that is affordable.”
Brigade Air by itself will not be able to fill the critical need for mission workers. Realizing this, Brigade Air, JAARS, and Moody Aviation in Spokane, Washington are collaborating to explore ways to recruit, train, and deploy the next generation of mission aviators. Filling mission aviation jobs will never be easy, but with prayer, the Lord’s enabling, dedicated supporters, and organizations such as Brigade Air, the Word of God will continue to reach the “roadless people” of the world.