As Christians, we are called to help and care for those in need, and to proclaim the Good News to every nation on earth. Of course, every follower of Christ is gifted uniquely, with different passions and desires. I (Aaron) first felt drawn to cross-cultural missions as a teenager. My local church was very involved in world missions, and I was convinced of the global Church's responsibility to take spiritual and physical hope to those who were in need of Christ's love. I knew that, being born into the affluent western world (even though my family was not particularly wealthy by American standards), I could not just selfishly pursue personal pleasures and happiness; God had blessed me that I might be a blessing to others.
I was first exposed to missionary aviation when I was in high school, and I knew immediately that I wanted to become a missionary pilot. When the time came to begin applying to colleges, I applied to a few missionary aviation programs, and a couple "backup" options close to home. I soon realized that aviation was very expensive and I was not going to get the financial assistance I needed to make this dream a reality. In the end, I accepted a scholarship from The University of Toledo to study mechanical engineering. I figured that this degree might prove useful if I had the opportunity to pursue missionary aviation at a later time.
Over the next few years I became involved in campus ministry at UT, and it was through this ministry that I met Tara, who would later become my wife. Throughout our college years we participated in many outreach and training opportunities, and grew in our desire to reach the world with the love of God in Jesus Christ. We even had the opportunity to spend two years overseas after we were married in 1999. Thoughts of missionary aviation faded into the background as I enjoyed the blessings of those years.
I never envisioned myself settling down in suburbia, or spending my days in a cubicle with a computer as my closest companion. But that's exactly what happened. Through a chain of circumstances, I ended up in graduate school and later began working as an engineer. Although Tara and I remained involved in church and campus ministry, I was never fully satisfied. I still dreamt of missionary aviation at times, but kept telling myself that it was unrealistic, that I had missed my window of opportunity, and that I could never become a missionary pilot/mechanic with a wife and two children.
By autumn of 2011 I had reached a breaking point. Eventually, the only thing keeping me from devoting myself to "full-time" vocational missions work was finances. I told myself it was irresponsible to ask other people to support my family financially when God had provided me an education and the ability to earn a good living "on my own". Eventually I began to recognize the deeper issues of fear and pride. Laying those aside, I was finally ready to move forward.
With the support of those close to us, our family has embarked on a new journey of faith. We have done something crazy, unexpected, and even foolish in the eyes of many: leaving the perceived security of a 9-5 job and the comforts of suburban life to go and serve others in an unfamiliar place. We are trusting God and pursuing the dream that was conceived nearly 20 years ago, when I was first drawn to missionary aviation.
Please take a few minutes to read more about our vision and the need for missionary aviation. For more specifics on where we've been and where we're going, you can check out our next steps.