You Don’t Do That!

By Rachel Greco

Mike Buchanan with SIL, MASA President Bernie Koswewa, Phil Koop, Glen Ferguson, Tim Hughes, Craig Russell, Dan Whitehead, and Dave Fyock at the IAMA virtual conference

What characteristics should future mission aviators possess? 

About 49 years ago, this question and others drove Moody Aviation, LeTourneau, and the School of Missionary Aviation Technology to send representatives to the mission organizations that operated aircraft around the world at that time: MAF and JAARS. 

The schools asked the mission organizations: “How can we better train people for you?” The organizations came up with a list of characteristics for pilots and mechanics. Besides this list, out of this cooperation grew an organization called International Association of Missionary Aviation (IAMA). Their desire is to see their members work together in perfect harmony, collaborate in strategic planning, share expertise and resources, spur one another toward excellence, and serve one another without unnecessary duplication. 

According to Dwight Jarboe, former JAARS mechanic, vice president of IAMA, and president of Missionary Maintenance Service, “JAARS has been right in the forefront of the collaboration of cooperation, the sharing of information, resources and so forth.” 

One of the ways JAARS has collaborated with other partners in mission aviation is the Aviation Effectiveness Research (AER) initiative. This initiative is a strategic, pioneering endeavor to evaluate how effective missionary aviation is at advancing the work of mission workers. The AER initiative will increase the ability of JAARS to formulate appropriate transportation solutions—whether air, land, or water. Although a JAARS initiative, JAARS promised to make the findings available to the missionary aviation community. Thus, the JAARS Vice President of Transportation Services, Craig Russell, sought funding from the members of IAMA. Many of them responded generously and provided significant funding for the project. JAARS is making good on its promise and will make the professional, multifunctional web resource that’s being designed and built by an outside source available on the IAMA website.  

Partnerships like these form at places like the IAMA annual conference during breaks and before and after the sessions, when representatives from different organizations have time to get to know each other. When Glen Ferguson first became the CEO of IAMA, he tried to shorten the breaks. “I found out, you don’t do that!” Glen recalls with a laugh. “That’s when things happen, when people are getting together. That’s probably the most important part of the conference—[when] people have [time] to interface with each other.” 

Phil Koop, Glen Ferguson, and Dave Fyock at the virtual IAMA conference

This year, though, things looked different due to the virus. How could the mission organizations and schools get together and encourage, admonish, and help each other when everything was canceled?  

Technology was the answer. JAARS and SIL partnered together to host the 49th annual IAMA Conference via a Zoom webinar. Although people couldn’t chat during breaks, the conference turned out to be a big success. 

Instead of 70–90 people showing up at the conference, over 220 people logged in from eight different countries! According to Glen, “They really liked being able to do that.” 

For speakers, Glen had lined up the president of MAF International, Dave Fyock, to lead things off. David Holsten, the president of MAF USA; Woody McLendon, the president of JAARS; Craig Russell; and Phil Koop, the president of Ethnos 360, all participated in a panel discussion. “Boiling the best speakers from a two-and-a-half-day conference down to just four and a half hours really focused it,” Glen explained. Even though he hadn’t planned the topics, God worked it out so that each speaker’s topic mingled with the others. 

Meanwhile, SIL and JAARS technology staff supported the conference in the background, making sure everything progressed smoothly. 

Since the virtual conference went so well, Glen is wondering what other things they should be doing, including some webinar training. Next year’s IAMA Conference will be in person at Moody Aviation, but also will be livestreamed. This will allow those who cannot be there in person to still be part of the conference. 

Praise God for bringing all these organizations with different skills to work together for his kingdom! 

You too can join your skills to these organizations to see God’s love and glory spread throughout the world. Visit here to see how.