“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” is the heart of our work with New Tribes Mission. Back in 2004, as we pursued the Lord’s guidance in our lives, we realized that the task of making disciples in every nation was (and still is) in dire need of laborers. Even 2000 years after Christ gave this command, there is still a third of the world’s people groups who have yet to hear the gospel! God has convinced us that our lives are worth nothing except to testify to the good news of God’s grace through Christ Jesus.
The Lord has called us to assist in the effort to reach the least-reached people in the country of Papua New Guinea. Brent is a licensed commercial pilot and uses this skill to serve church planters who have committed to working and living in remote tribes in order to plant mature churches and make disciples. Often times the church planters’ only contact with the “outside world” is through Brent as he brings them supplies, food, and medical aide on a regular basis and offers transportation in and out of their tribe. His goal is to be an encouraging and refreshing presence on every flight he operates.
While our primary ministry is aviation, our passion is not aviation; our passion is taking the gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth in order that every tribe, tongue, and nation will glorify him. We are privileged to use these skills for his glory.
How the Lord prepared us:
The preparation to serve with New Tribes Aviation has been a long one. As a couple, we have been pursuing this goal full-time since 2004 and the Lord has been faithful to keep us on course. Brent received five years of schooling from Moody Aviation where he took two years worth of Bible classes, two years of aviation maintenance training, and two years of flight training (yes, they cram six years of material into five). He came out with a degree in Missionary Aviation Technology and 400 hours of flight time. He spent the next two years working to pay off school loans and building flight hours with a company called Dynamic Aviation. During this time, Brent received another 1800 hours in the cockpit and also got a year of experience as Captain.
Erica received a degree in Biblical Studies from Westmont College. She took a variety of classes that helped establish a firm Biblical foundation for a life on the mission field. She also took two years of New Testament Greek which ignited her passion for Bible translation, a huge part of New Tribes’ work. Now she is a mommy to three amazing children – Beau (06/2010), Kimi (12/2011), and Luke (10/2013) – and loves every minute of it!
Together, we received a year of training at Ethnos360’s Missionary Training Center (formerly New Tribes Mission). There, we took a variety of classes ranging from Missionary Technology to Field Health to Phonetics to living in light of the truth in Romans 5-8. We also spent a year at Ethnos360 Aviation’s headquarters where Brent sharpened his bush piloting skills with experienced missionary pilots. Even though this training took additional time, we consider the experience invaluable to our ministry. We were able to wrestle with numerous issues that prepared us for what was to come on the overseas field. We could not imagine being effective in our ministry without this training.
Where the Lord is using us:
We moved to Papua New Guinea in 2014. After learning the national trade language, Tok Pisin, Brent began his flight career in country in 2015. PNG has some of the most remote tribal villages in the world and Brent serves as a supply deliverer, grocery store, school “bus”, ambulance, and taxi driver (with his airplane). One of the most significant roles that our aviation department plays is offering medical evacuation services to our missionary families. While our medical clinic is phenomenal, there are times that it is unequipped to handle more life-threatening emergencies. Brent has often been called on to evacuate patients to Cairns, Australia where they are able to receive emergent medical care.
In addition to flying regularly for our church planters, Brent has also served as Chief of Check and Training since 2017. This means he is responsible to train new pilots and maintain all pilots’ licensing currency and performance competency. Juggling flights and administrative tasks is no easy thing but the Lord has extended grace and wisdom throughout his time in this role.
We live on a center in the Eastern Highlands of PNG with several other families serving in support roles (ie. teachers, doctors, accountants). Our children attend the school on center, called Numonohi Christian Academy, where they are receiving an excellent education offered by a staff that genuinely cares not only for their academic growth but for their spiritual maturity as well. Erica has just begun her career as a Bible teacher for Junior High girls and absolutely loves the opportunity to speak into young lives through the Word of God.
How God captured our hearts:
Brent: I did not grow up in a Christian home and as a teenager I was very angry and depressed. A neighbor saw my bitterness and began to share the Gospel with me and take me to church. I lived Christianity outwardly and “accepted the Lord” because I was afraid of Hell, but I never really knew if God existed. My anger and depression increased as I considered that I had no idea what the purpose of this terrible life was. I realized the basic question to all of existence is that there is a God or there is not and decided to pursue an answer. In my studies, I found that all the world’s religions contradict themselves except for Biblical Christianity. After many conversations with an NTM missionary kid and a Jr. High youth pastor, I believed that the God of the Bible was true at seventeen years old. I believed that I was a sinner in desperate need of reconciliation with God and I trusted that Jesus Christ died to provide that reconciliation for anyone who trusted in Him. Once the gospel radically changed my life I knew I owed my life to the Lord and committed to become a missionary and bring the same change to others who had never heard. I learned that there was a need for pilots on the mission field and since aviation had been a dream of mine since I was two, I decided to pursue that as an avenue of ministry. The Lord has confirmed this calling over and over in his faithful provision of all of our needs as we have walked this path of faith.
Erica: I grew up in a Christian home and trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior at a very young age. I was well aware of my tendency to sin and I understood that without the Lord, I was in a pretty hopeless situation. The gospel was so precious to me, I resolved that I would commit my life to telling others about it. Fast forward to my freshman year of college and as I struggled with what to do with my future the Lord decided to remind me of my childhood resolution. For several months, he laid the thought of becoming a full-time missionary on my heart but I resisted the idea because I felt completely unworthy and incapable. However, one night as I was reading a book called “Don’t Waste Your Life” he commanded my attention in a way that I could not deny what he was asking of me. That night I committed my life to serving him overseas full-time. Shortly after that, Brent and I joined teams and began pursuing ministry together. Through our relationship, I have developed a passion for mission aviation and the way that it enables so many missionaries to reach the unreachable.