When it comes to taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth, “Getting there” has always been one of the challenges. It was for the Apostle Paul and it is for us. For Paul, the ‘ends of the earth’ meant Spain. We have no confirmation that he made it, but we do know that Spain was in his heart. Today, the ‘ends of the earth’ can mean places that would require a three-week trek through mountains and jungles, or a similar amount of time in a dugout canoe. We’ve had envoys who have done it that way because there was no option.
But once someone has trekked into these locations and carved out a rudimentary landing strip, thanks to missionary aviation, today’s envoys have the technology to get in and out in a matter of hours rather than weeks, and they can stay as long as it takes to establish a toehold for the Gospel. We currently have five missionary families involved in missionary aviation:
Kyle and Jenny Merkey at JAARS (Wycliffe) in Waxhaw, NC
Tim and Michelle Obarow at Missionary Maintenance Service in Coshokton, OH
Dave and Sherry Shelly, also at Missionary Maintenance Service
Andy and Trish Gudeman with Kingdom Aircorps in Alaska
Tony and Joanna Murrin with International Tribal Ministries in Bolivia
Thanks to the planes they refurbish, maintain, and fly, the Gospel is reaching some of the remotest places in the world.
Now we would like you to meet Josh and Rebekah Rauch from Paradise BFC, Paradise, PA. They have been accepted by JAARS and they are being reviewed for endorsement and appointment by the Board of Missions as envoys of the Bible Fellowship Church. Here is their story:
“I was always fascinated by electronics and I began to develop an interest in Amateur Radio. One Sunday, BFC envoys Bill and Lois Early from Trans World Radio visited my church and I realized for the first time that my interests and technical skills could be used for the glory of God. Then I met Kyle Merkey from JAARS, another BFC envoy, and he introduced me to aircraft maintenance. After High School, I enrolled in Pennsylvania College of Technology to study aviation maintenance and electrical engineering. I admit there was a time in college when I got busy and distracted. I felt no need for God, but then I got interested in Rebekah, a friend of my sister, whom I had known from church and I realized that if I wanted to see her or spend time with her, I would have to go back to church. God was at work in my life.
Rebekah and I got serious and began planning our wedding, but then I got laid off from Jetstream where I was working and we had to postpone the marriage. After several years of under-employment, I found a job at Sikorski helicopters. I felt I could now afford to support a family. Rebekah and I got married. Our first daughter was born. We bought a house. Life was good but, once again, I was living as though I didn’t need God. Then I had an accident. I was severely burned. I had 2nd and 3rd degree burns over 80% of my body. I was told I could die. Being unable to work, we were thoroughly broke and broken. When I had recovered sufficiently, we returned to church. The folks there helped us out of the hole.
We joined a small group. We made friends. My faith grew. In time, I was asked to become a deacon.
In 2017, our church missions board announced a work-team trip to JAARS in Waxhaw, NC. I volunteered my whole family. I asked the organizers if I could work in the hangar and they agreed. A year later I got a call from Dan Snow, one of the JAARS mechanics. He asked if I’d like to go with him to Cameroon to do an aircraft inspection. My employer gave me unpaid time off and several churches helped fund the trip. I discovered during that trip to Cameroon that the work I am able to do can make an enormous difference for the glory of God.
Having seen what can be done, and knowing what the goal should be, I decided I wanted to be a part of that. I told Rebekah and her response astounded me.”
“As the daughter of a pastor, I had heard about missions all my life. Growing up, I remember hosting many missionaries in our home and hearing about the work they were doing around the world. I went on several missions trips as a teenager, but it never crossed my mind to actually become a missionary. Still, those trips left embers in my heart which have just been waiting for the right time to be fanned to a flame by the Holy Spirit.
Josh and I had been married for seven years and had two daughters when we went on that work-team to JAARS. Something about the people we met and the work that they were doing touched our hearts. In 2018, when Josh was asked to accompany Dan Snow to Cameroon, I fully supported him because I didn’t want to stand in the way if God was working in his heart. I remembered how my own missions trips had strengthened my relationship with Jesus.
When Josh came home from that trip, I recognized that something had changed in him. I could tell he was wrestling with something he couldn’t quite identify. Then one day in 2019 he called me on the way home from work and asked what I thought of joining JAARS. My response was, “Why not?” I had suspected his heart was moving in that direction. Now we are on this adventure with Wycliffe to support Bible translation through aviation at JAARS. God is doing amazing things, and I am humbled that He is working through my family.”
For information on becoming a missionary envoy of the Bible Fellowship Church contact the Director of the Board of Missions – [email protected]