Several years ago, God gave me the desire to serve Him full-time. At first I didn’t exactly know what I’d be doing, but I knew it would be in the mission fields, and I had a love for Russia’s Far East Region of Khabarovsk. I First went there when I was 14 years old in 2009. Including that first trip in 2009, I’ve been on mission trips to Russia a total of 6 times and twice to Kazakhstan. God Has blessed me through the years and shown me how great this work is with the peoples of Russia and Kazakhstan.
During these years my ministry has been mostly with kids and teenagers. Out of the eight trips that I’ve been on, seven of them were summer trips. In the summers, we usually do day camps with the kids and teens, and some sort of youth fellowship in the evenings, usually with a camp fire. They last anywhere from three to seven days. And I’ve been once in the winter. Russia’s winters are pretty cold, with average temperatures around -30ºC. We visited around 15 orphanages with a Christmas program, Nativity play, and presents for the kids. We also went to several of the villages with the same purpose. Blessed and fun times!
In the summer of 2015, we had the opportunity to fly to one of the villages. Usually, we take an old river ferry. The fare is $50 USD per person one way. And the ride is about 7 hours long. That is our usual method of transportation to the villages. We often dreamed with the fellow local brothers about having our own 7-10 seater boat. Imagine going 30-40mph instead of 5, and being able to bring everything and everyone you need with you. Maybe one day God will open someone’s heart and they would be willing to donate us a boat. But this year, we fly to Pobeda. There were a total of about four flights that summer on a small 4-seater Cessna. We had the opportunity to meet the missionary pilot. A local Khabarovsk native. He’s been coming to the US for about 6 summers and doing flight training with Dwayne King, at Kingdom Air Corps in Alaska. And now there was the first registered missionary airplane in Russia. And we got to be the first ones to take the first flights on it! Exciting! The fly to Pobeda was 45 minutes on the first two flights, but then we were able to accomplish it in about 30 minutes. And 30 minutes, compared to 7 hours is a big difference. Not to mention the costs, which are way less by airplane. We have the opportunity to transport 3 people in one hour (considering the pilot, and that he has to come back to the city to pick up the next group), and do this for about $30!
Being in that situation and experiencing that blessing revived a dream inside of me that I got several years before. I have a friend that happens to be a pastor and also happens to be a pilot, Dar Hanjiev, who had first introduced aviation to me and the folks at the church I was at. I’ve had the opportunity to talk to him on several occasions about flying. He saw my mission driven heart and told me about missionary aviation. I was really excited about it every time I talked to him about it, but with life pushing forward I would forget about it every time. But this time the revived dream stayed with me. And I brought it back home with me to my girlfriend. I had made up my mind that I want to propose to her, but I had one more thing left to discuss. The question was, would she be willing to move anywhere God sends us in the world. She knew my desire to serve the Lord, and I had mentioned the mission fields. I told her I want to fly. And asked if she’s willing to support me, and she did say yes. After a few months I popped the question and another half year and we were married.
As of right now, we’re living in Greensboro, North Carolina, where we move so I could attend school for an Airframe and Powerplant Certificate. This will take two years. We are still praying about our next step, but we have two options. First, after my schooling here in Greensboro, we will move to Alaska for flight training with Dwayne King. And after that move to Khabarovsk Russia for ministry. Or option two, after school here, we move straight to Russia, and learn to fly there. We’re not sure which way God will lead us, but we know for sure His way is better than ours. We just have to wait on His timing and trust Him in all we do.