The Monster in the Dark
Fear. It’s the monster that crouches in the shadows of our minds. It’s also the emotion the 11 wives of the JAARS Pre-Field Orientation Course orientees battle in various forms.
These women came to JAARS so their husbands, who will all serve in some aviation capacity overseas or here at JAARS, could finish their training in this three-month orientation course. Almost all of these families will face new challenges and cultural differences when they arrive at the place God is leading them to.
Nancy Ramsdale, who works in aviation training, and Penny Tallman, the aviation training receptionist, organize weekly meetings to encourage the wives during the course. Although this year the women don’t sit beside each other on couches drinking tea or coffee, they’ve still been able to meet online. They’ve gleaned important lessons from one another, including how to combat fear.
During one of the meetings, Sandi Barkman, who served with her husband in Peru for about 14 years, discussed lessons God taught her while living overseas. One of these lessons occurred at jungle camp in southern Mexico before they moved to Peru. They had been told they would be taken unexpectedly with a group of campers into the jungle. They would spend at least one night alone in the jungle.
This news terrified Sandi, and she considered giving up. Her husband directed her to Philippians 4:4 and 6: “Rejoice in the Lord always… Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”
After reading this passage, Sandi told God, “This is really hard for me. But with your help and strength, I can do it. If you’ll help me, Lord, I’ll give it my best shot.”
Sandi went on the jungle hike and, though it was difficult, she survived. After telling this story to the ladies, she said: “I learned I can do a lot of frightening things if I am depending on the Lord, who promised to be there giving me what it takes. It was a lesson I’ve never forgotten. I was full of lots of fears, and God met me where I was.”
Many of the women then expressed their fears, whether about COVID-19, their husbands’ safety while flying into remote airstrips, or other unknowns. One woman, after hearing Sandi’s stories about battling fear, recalled how fear had seized her as she and her family moved to JAARS about a month ago. It had been the first time the woman had ridden in the moving truck. The snowstorm and dark didn’t calm her heart. “We have to practice [battling our fears] daily,” she explained. “Lots of times during that trip I just needed to practice surrendering my fear and [remembering that] God was in the moving truck doing things.”
Stephanie Braun served in Brazil for eleven years while her husband, Jeyson, flew for our aviation partner, Asas de Socorro. She encouraged the women: “At first it’s scary being in a different culture, but I would say within a year or so, it starts to feel pretty normal.” She shared about the first time Jeyson went to work, leaving her in their rental house by herself. She was afraid that somebody was going to break in.
The wind slammed a door shut. “My heart was pounding, and I thought, ‘What do I do? Grab a knife?’” Stephanie soon realized the sound came from the wind, not burglars. “After a while, it becomes second nature; you learn to trust.”
Another member of the group could identify with Stephanie’s incapacitating fear. When her husband served in the army, she couldn’t know where he was going or when he’d return. She had to trust him to God. Even though Sandi’s and the other’s stories informed her some of these unknowns might remain in the aviation mission field, she said, “God has been preparing me for this.”
What a beautiful, precious time these ladies had to share their experiences, encouraging each other to slay the monster in the dark known as fear!