REFLECTIONS: Faith of My Father

In 1955 my father, Cameron Townsend, was driving across Oklahoma when he suddenly noticed a small airplane that seemed to be flying beside him, so slowly that it appeared to be parked in the sky. Something told him this Helio Courier was just the right aircraft for translation workers out in the bush country.

The Townsend family, circa 1949.
“Mom and Dad planted trust in God in my life …”
Photo courtesy of Grace Townsend Goreth.

Daddy later visited the Helio factory in Kansas with two JAARS pilots and businessman Lawrence Routh. After a demonstration of the plane’s remarkable short takeoff and landing capabilities, the president of the aircraft company asked him, “Dr. Townsend, how many Helios do you think you will need?”

Daddy thought for a moment and said, “We will need six to begin with.” This was going to cost $180,000—and at that point, there was no money in the budget for even one airplane. But Cameron Townsend trusted God for the impossible, and plowed ahead.

That was the kind of faith that I saw lived before me every day. Mom and Dad planted trust in God in my life, more by how they lived than anything else.

In 1968, at the height of the Cold War, Mom and Dad were invited to go to Russia by the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City. Mom and Dad were at JAARS waiting for their visas, planning to leave for Russia in ten days. One day while Daddy was out, Mom received a telegram from the Russian Embassy saying, “Not this year; maybe next.” When Daddy arrived home, Mom showed him the telegram, wondering what he would say. Daddy’s first words were, “Praise the Lord, our first no is behind us!”

Sure enough, ten days later they were on a ship bound for the USSR.

And over the years, God supplied—not six, but twenty-one Helio Couriers—as well as Cessnas, Kodiaks, PC-6s, and helicopters. God has promised to provide, and we have seen his faithfulness.

Grace Townsend Goreth

Grace Townsend Goreth has served JAARS in Partnership Ministries for 14+ years. She currently serves on the JAARS Board of Directors and as an Ambassador.