Envision with me for a moment… -The significance of a plane load of Bibles and spiritual materials being delivered for the first time by one of our OA graduates to a remote area previously unreached by the Gospel message. -The precious lives spared by emergency medevac flights flown in and out of remote jungle airstrips by one of our OA graduates. -The food, letters and provisions delivered in the little airplane by one of our OA graduates to frontline missionaries serving far from home. -The medical team flying out to provide routine care in that inaccessible village, riding in the plane piloted by one of our OA graduates. -The crowds of smiling faces, old and young, men, women and of course, the children, some with pet dogs and one with a pet monkey, swarming around in happy greeting every time our OA graduate taxis back along the runway and shuts down the plane, climbing out with an equally broad smile of greeting and with words of encouragement. The possible scenarios go on and on. Indeed, there are as many situations to envision as there are areas still to reach with OA graduates and airplanes.
Now, envision one more scenario with me. It’s heaven, and everything is perfect and tranquil. No more sweating through the preflight under the tropical sun; no more weighing and loading baggage for the trip; no more fuelling over the wing from five-gallon jugs; no more IV bags hanging from the cockpit ceiling. It’s calm now, happy and peaceful. Everyone’s here who’s going to be here! And over there swarming around Jesus, there’s that same happy crowd of smiling faces, old and young, men, women and of course, the children, some with pet dogs and one with a pet monkey. And amongst them all I see our pilots, warmly greeting friends. She graduated from OA! He was a MAP student of mine way back in Oklahoma! I think I’ll go over and say Hi...
- Cliff Brooks
Ground School & Flight Training for Private Pilot License, with emphasis on remote operations Aircraft & General maintenance Training
Mission-appropriate Technologies & Skills
Developing Missionary Support Networks
Mission Program Management
Mission Aviation vocational training is offered as part of Oklahoma Academy’s overall objective to Prepare Workers for the Harvest. All flight and mission training is provided for enrolled program participants that maintain a minimum academic GPA. Participating students commit to spend the following year after graduation as a volunteer in a mission aviation assignment.
The Airplane Story
The quest for a training airplane for Oklahoma Academy started as a succession of prayers. God alone heard as the students and I prayed for Him to work out His will for us . “We have an airstrip, we have students, and we have an instructor, Father, but no airplane to train in.” We knew that God had led in bringing my family and me to Oklahoma Academy to work in the Mission Aviation Program (MAP), but why didn’t we have an airplane to fly?
In the fall of 2018 my Ground School class and I started praying for a plane. We kept praying through 2nd semester and right on into spring. Along the way, God started providing. In March, a kind family in California donated a repairable Taylorcraft. We were delighted, but it would take a lot of time and money to get it into flying condition. We needed something to fly now. So we continued praying, asking that God would provide a flyable trainer for us.
About that time, another Taylorcraft was listed for sale. It had all of the upgrades and modifications that we were looking for. In faith, I even took a long detour into Iowa while on a road trip to do a pre-buy inspection of the plane. It was in excellent condition. But how could we afford to buy it? We kept on praying.
In June I had the opportunity to work with Duane Habenicht and the fine team at Andrews University to obtain my Instrument Instructor’s license and renew my CFI. Colin West was very patient as he helped brush-off the years of accumulated “rust” in my instrument skills. God was continuing to provide for us, but we still needed a plane.
As summer progressed, I attended camp meetings and promotional events, talking with various people about the Mission Aviation Program at Oklahoma Academy. But it was always difficult in the conversation when we got to that one question… “So what plane do you guys fly?” Gulp… “Well, we keep praying and trusting that God will provide. He’s provided everything else that’s needed to support the program. The plane is the only element lacking. So we know He’ll provide in His time.” And, in faith, we kept on praying.
We prayed right on into the ASI convention in Louisville, KY. While sitting at our booth, we prayed over contacts right there during the convention. We needed $20,000 to purchase the cheapest and simplest of airplanes.
It was Thursday afternoon at ASI. A new friend and long-time supporter of Oklahoma Academy approached me with a plan. He was convinced that we needed to move forward and purchase the Taylorcraft immediately. He developed a matching grant to sponsor half of the purchase cost, but we had to develop sponsorship for the other half. The catch was that the deal was only good until Friday at noon.
"I was skeptical that we could raise $10,000 of matching money in less than 24 hours… But our friend was firm."
We started calling on other friends of Oklahoma Academy. The response was simply miraculous By noon on Friday, we lacked a few thousand dollars , but pledges were coming in so strongly that the deadline was extended to dinner. We kept calling and praying.
At dinner, we reconvened and tallied the pledges next to the matching grant. All told, we ended the day on Friday with a total of $21,950 pledged towards the purchase of the airplane that we so needed!
So here I am, a little over a month later, flying this little Taylorcraft back to the academy, and we’re actually going to start using it in flight training this school year. As I fly, I think back over all the ways God has brought us to this point: preparing the school, placing the staff, bringing the students, providing my currency training, arranging an airplane, connecting us with interested sponsors at just the right time, and finally bringing the little trainer airplane safely home to campus. I’m a bit overwhelmed when I consider the trail of God’s blessings. And I tremble a bit when I consider the work ahead. It is clear that God wants a mission aviation training program at Oklahoma Academy. The work isn’t going to be easy. We’ll have to pray hard and work hard. But God’s very clear leading thus far confirms that He has big plans for the graduates of this program.