A Missionary Pilot’s Unexpected Challenge

One of the coolest things about being a missionary pilot is providing lifesaving transportation in a medical emergency.

I’ve had the privilege of making such a flight, one that resulted not only in a rescued life, but professions of faith in Jesus Christ by the patient and his wife. Through a near-death experience they realized the need to be reconciled to their creator God.

In addition to mercy flights, Jeremiah often transports Christian workers or delivers much needed supplies to remote locations.

But recently I faced a different kind of challenge. A couple of weeks ago I thought I’d be involved in another lifesaving flight. Shortly before beginning my daily flight schedule, I received a call asking if we could fly a sick baby from an outlying village to the hospital in Labrea. With just enough fuel stored in Labrea for the extra flying, I agreed and took off.

After arriving in the village and loading the plane, I held the sick one-year-old child in my arms while his parents climbed in. In those few moments, I looked into his beautiful face, felt his labored breathing, and whispered a prayer to God for his healing. Then the crowd gathered around the plane and joined in prayer for the baby and the safety of the flight on what was quickly becoming a stormy day.

Half an hour later we were on the ground in Labrea, and the baby was whisked off to the hospital—to what I was sure would be a quick recovery. The rest of the day didn’t go very well as rain and storms prevented all other flights. They would have to wait for another day, but that was fine. As far as I was concerned, God had kept the weather open just long enough to fly the baby to the hospital.

One more life saved. Success.

But upon arrival at the village the next day I was met with somber faces. “Did you hear? The baby died last night in the hospital.”

I was stunned. Why? How?

God had kept the weather open just for that flight. Just to save that baby—or so I thought. I wanted to stop right there and cry—but I didn’t. A sobbing pilot doesn’t inspire confidence in passengers preparing for a flight across miles of jungle, so I saved the tears till I got home.

Jeremiah’s daughter, Hadassa, is the same age as the child he flew to the hospital.

I can’t imagine the heartbreak the parents must be going through. I haven’t seen them since, but I have prayed for them nearly every day. This experience was a powerful reminder to me of why those parents and their friends and neighbors need God’s Word in the language that speaks hope to their hearts. I want them to know that although they live in a world full of disappointment and sorrow, God is still in control. I want them to learn that those who trust in Jesus have the promise that all things are worked out for their good by our loving Heavenly Father. We live in a messed up, fallen, and heart-rending world. How important to know that they can belong to the One who has “overcome the world.”

Jeremiah Diedrich

Jeremiah, his wife, Julie, and their three children live in Brazil, where they have served since 2006. …