I was raised in a Lutheran home. My pastor was an old-fashioned pastor and still taught salvation through grace but left the final step for you to take on your own. Speaking about salvation was just not done, as they viewed it as a personal thing between you and God. When I was seven, I attended a Vacation Bible School at the same church. It was after a story on the fiery furnace that I realized that I needed to be saved. After the class was let out, I stayed behind by myself, knelt at my chair, and trusted in Jesus and asked Him to save me.
My mother grew up as a Methodist and stopped attending church when she married my father who was a Catholic. My Mom’s family would invite us to Sunday school, and as kids we visited their church. I always remembered the happy songs and the sweet people we met there. Years later my youngest sister started attending a Methodist church and kept inviting me to go with her. A few months later, I finally went and heard the wonderful truth about Christ. That same day at the age of seventeen, I asked Jesus to be my Saviour.
In early 2012 after prayer, fasting, and pastoral counsel, we felt that God was leading us to join Team Peru. Being able to use my aviation skills on a mission field had always interested me. We will have the opportunity to utilize aviation in the future in Peru. With the skills God has given me through the years in mechanics, aviation, and education, I believe we are ideally prepared for this work.
We are excited to share our big news with you—we are making a change in our ministry! God is good and always has a plan for our lives. We can see that God has been preparing us for a new field. As many of you know, I have always wanted to be able to use my aviation skills to reach people for Christ on the mission field. Unfortunately, Peru is almost completely closed to private aviation. God has opened a door for us in Ecuador, our neighboring country to the north. Ecuador welcomes aviation and has over 300 airstrips in the jungle that we can freely use.
We will be starting a new ministry called Messengers for Christ. The purpose of this ministry will be to help reach the people of Ecuador with the Gospel, especially the people in the jungle. There is a great need for churches, pastors, Bibles, tracts, and training materials. We will be providing printed materials and transportation into and out of the jungle, while also participating fully in the soul-winning and training activities during these trips. Most of the communities in the jungle are only accessible via airplane and boat. Since there are so many airfields in the jungle, obtaining an airplane is important to be able to maximize our outreach into the jungle. We will be working alongside missionaries and national pastors to reach the tens of thousands of people in this area. A missionary friend in Ecuador, Pastor Victor Gallo, has helped us locate hangar space at the airport in Macas to use as our base of operations.
Macas is about two hours south of Shell, Ecuador. Shell (or Shell Mera) may sound familiar to you, even though it is a small town in a far-distant country. It is where Nate Saint based his aviation ministry in the 1950s. When he, Jim Elliot, and three other missionaries tried to reach the Auca Indians with the Gospel of Christ, they were martyred. The area in which they gave their lives is only about a 45-minute flight from Macas.
While visiting with Victor Gallo, we were able to see a few of his projects. He has been working to train Ecuadorian nationals as pastors and then help them start churches in the jungle. He has built a large church and Bible college in Riobamba and has just started a second Bible college in Taisha, the largest village out in the jungle. A young man Pastor Gallo won to Christ and trained, Pastor David Fiallos, is pastoring there. This village has the largest airport in the area and is a prime central location for reaching new villages. The new Bible college opened this September and already has over 20 students from surrounding villages attending classes. We had the opportunity to see churches which he has planted in the villages of Taisha, Tarimiat, and Puerto Morona; and we visited two other villages where he will be building church buildings in the very near future.
We are currently back in the U.S. to raise funds for the new ministry that God has opened to us. We are planning on heading to Ecuador in January 2022. Please contact me if you have any questions or would like us to visit you and give you an update in person. I have created a new 3.5-minute video explaining the move and giving you the chance to see some of the opportunities which we have been given. There is a link below, however, if you are reading a printed copy of this letter, or you may prefer a flash drive with the video or an SMS message or an email containing the link. If you would prefer one of these other methods, please send me a quick message about it, and I will happily get it to you in your preferred format.
This is an exciting change for us, and I pray that you will come along with us on this new journey. Pastor Wilkerson and the people of FBC Hammond are excited to see what God is preparing to do in Ecuador. Please pray for us as we work on obtaining an airplane for use in the jungle.