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Introducing the B. Family: Michael, Karen, Kaydence (17), and Elijah (10), NE TN natives, have served with Mission Aviation Fellowship since 2005.
Michael and Karen both grew up in Christian homes within 40km of Moody Aviation, the flight and maintenance training program of Moody Bible Institute (USA). The aviation school would come to play a vital role in both of their lives. Karen grew up with many students and missionaries from Moody sharing their stories of life on the field and the great need to reach the lost around the world. God would use this to stir a desire to serve Him full time as a missionary. She came to have a personal relationship with God at the age of 19, when her faith truly became her own. God continued to reaffirm His calling throughout her life in various ways as she served in her local community, among the Cherokee and Navajo tribes, and later, in Vietnam. She would later graduate from Cumberland College in Williamsburg, KY with a degree in Psychology and Social Work. Michael wanted to be a pilot from the time he was a child. God nurtured this love for aviation over the years until the night he surrendered his heart and life to Christ. Michael knew God was calling him to full time ministry, but he had never heard of mission aviation work. Two nights after surrendering his hopes and dreams to God, the Lord handed those right back to him as he learned of the need for pilots and mechanics around the globe to further the spread of the gospel. While he attended Moody Aviation, Karen and Michael would meet and later married in December 2001. After graduation and the birth of their daughter, Kaydence, the family joined Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) in 2005.
In 2006, the family joined the MAF team in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where they would be privileged to serve for the next 12 1/2 years. They were privileged to serve in different capacities throughout the years there, but both their hearts have always held a passion for mentoring, training, and equipping young people. This continues to hold true today. In 2017, Michael began doing 3–6-week rotations to help a struggling program in Central Asia, while also working hard to receive his Masters in Aeronautics from Embry-Riddell. After much prayer and seeking God’s direction, the Lord made it clear the following year that He was leading our family to serve in Central Asia full-time. In August 2019, their whole family moved to a Restricted Access Nation in Central Asia (exact location withheld for security reasons). Michael continues to use his skills as a pilot and mechanic but has also taken on a new role as the Instructor Pilot and Chief of Maintenance for the program. This enables their organization to send new families to this part of the world, where less than .1% have access to the Gospel. Their team there is multinational, with families from 4 different continents serving together. What a beautiful example of the Body working together! The airplane is simply the vehicle that God uses to place each of us in a culture that truly needs Jesus. The past year has been especially challenging, with the program being disrupted by insurgents and subsequent evacuations, several key national staff leaving, and flight permissions being withheld due to security concerns (from US officials), not to mention COVID. Michael is currently serving again on a rotational basis, as expat families are currently not allowed in-country. They covet your prayers for God’s wisdom and direction, as well as favor amongst officials to be able to return to normal operations in a part of the world that is deeply in need.
As God continues to lead, they are also involved with the resettlement of refugees in their native NE Tennessee, helping facilitate preparations and transition for the families. They are thankful to have support from MAF, but they are also grateful for the greater Body that they have the privilege to serve alongside in this season. Seeing their friends and family in Tennessee working together to support a people group that has, at times, been ostracized in this region of the US is such a precious gift. While they are longing to serve the community in Central Asia, they are grateful to be able to do so while here. They are also sharing their ministry as God gives opportunity, proclaiming the work that God is doing in Central Asia, Haiti, Tennessee, and far beyond.