Last Weekend of WESS

Recently, I read a legend about Napoleon when he had conquered a highly-prized island in the Mediterranean. Afterwards, when Napoleon and his generals were celebrating the victory, a young officer in his army came to speak to Napoleon. “Sir, give me this island,” he said. The generals around Napoleon began to laugh and mock him. Napoleon asked for a pen and paper and to the general’s amazement, he wrote out a deed for the entire island to the young man. “How could you do that? What made him worthy to receive such a gift?” the generals asked. “I gave him this island,” replied Napoleon, “because he honored me by the magnitude of his request.” Sometimes I feel like those generals. In my mind, I limit God and fail to realize the power He has in my life. Lately, I have been trying to break this habit by praying for God to do great deeds that my natural self tells me are not going to happen.

This past WESS weekend God provided a great opportunity for me to practice honoring His power. This opportunity presented itself when our aircrew director told the aircrew school that due to finances, anyone who had completed all their tasks the week before would not be able to fly over the weekend. Needless to say, my wingman and I were very disappointed. Thankfully, the next morning brought about a change of heart as myself and around fifteen other cadets showed up for the morning bible study/prayer meeting. Cadets shared what the Lord was laying on their hearts; words of wisdom, stories of God’s provision, etc. The atmosphere of trust in God helped me to renew my mind. Just before prayer time, I shared a story of how God answered the prayers of a friend of mine and myself during a camping trip a couple weeks before and how much it blessed both of us just knowing that God listens to us and cares about our requests and looks forward to giving us the desires of our heart, no matter how big or small they may be. As I shared this story, something clicked in my mind and I thought back on the disappointing news about the flights. Why did I not ask for Him to allow me to fly this weekend? Confronted with my lack of trust, I challenged each of the cadets in the circle, including myself, to choose something to ask God for during the weekend and eagerly await to see Him answer our prayers. During my prayer I asked God if I could have the opportunity to fly that weekend despite the lack of funds, if it was His will. Once prayer time was over, we split up and headed to our respective courses, anticipating to see God on the move.

Since we had completed all our tasks the week before, my battle buddy and I decided to hang out with the Aerial Photography students and learn some of their tasks, which we had a blast doing. When we were not taking practicing taking photos on the ground, we played the word game “hangman”, which we found out is ten times more fun when you are tired. 🙂  Once the aircrews returned from their sorties that evening, we had our debriefing and listened while the directors made plans for the next day. Just as the meeting was wrapping up, I heard someone mention only two aircrew members instead of three on a sortie. An extra seat?! As soon as the debrief was over I went to the aircrew director and asked if I had heard right about there only being two people on the sortie. He grinned and said yes. “Would it be possible for me to take the place of the third person?” I asked. He laughed and said he could make it happen. I was SO excited! God had answered my prayer!

At 7:30 the next morning I was on my way to the airport for that impossible flight. Even better, I got to fly up front rather than in the back seat where I usually sit as Mission Scanner! This gave me about 30 minutes of practice at the yolk and also gave me the first opportunity to speak directly to Air Traffic Control because the pilot’s radio would not cooperate. By the end of the morning, another flight came up, so I ended up flying two flights in the end. Oh! Later on I learned that my wingman was offered a flight back to her home in Georgia! It never ceases to amaze me how God goes above and beyond to bless His children!

All in all, the weekend was a great success! As the graduation ceremony was about to begin, our crew arrived back at mission base. My sweet mother even brought the rest of the Caliguire Clan to celebrate with us! My father, sisters, brother, and I all graduated from our courses and had a great time going out with friends afterwards to celebrate.

So what did I learn most from WESS? As far as the Emergency Services training is concerned, I must say that I know a great deal more about how to use the sectional chart and preflighting aircraft than I did when I started. Spiritually, God has used WESS, along with other events in the past few months, to give me an opportunity to understand His character on a deeper level. Now more than ever, I realize how much He cares about every intricate detail of our lives and that “If you then being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give what is good to those who ask Him?”(Matthew 7:11) He is SO amazing and worthy of all our praise!

 

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The Caliguire Clan at Graduation
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Caliguire WESS Graduates
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The Coosa River From Above
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Don Richardson & “Redemptive Analogies”

Friday evening I had the opportunity to meet Don Richardson, a missionary from Papua New Guinea! I had read his book Peace Child several years ago, which was my first introduction to the idea of finding “redemptive analogies” to share the gospel with unreached people groups. While reading Peace Child gave me an intro to this idea, his discussion yesterday made it much clearer, and to be truthful, excited me all the more about reaching people groups who have never heard the name of Jesus! So what is this idea of “redemptive analogy”? Mr. Richardson says that among tribal civilizations, there are hidden traditions, stories, or understandings, which point towards God and salvation through Jesus Christ. He first realized this during his time with the Sawi tribe in PNG and tells what happened in his book Peace Child. If you plan to read the book, I suggest that you do not read further so I don’t spoil the story for you. If you don’t plan on reading it anytime soon, or already have, feel free to read my super condensed version of the story. 🙂 Anyways, Don and his wife Carol struggled to explain the sacrifice of Jesus, to this head-hunting, cannibalistic tribe that honored treachery above all else. Mr. Richardson said, “In their eyes, Judas, not Jesus, was the hero of the Gospels, Jesus was just the dupe to be laughed at.” One day, two of the three tribes who had come to live close by, began fighting each other and realizing that their presence only made matters worse. Don and Carol prepared to leave and move their work elsewhere. Don had diligently spoke with the warriors and tried to bring peace, but they told him that he didn’t understand. Later on the night that he broke the news of their departure, representatives from each tribe came to him and told him that peace would be made. The next day, the two tribes made peace by giving a baby boy, or “peace child” to the other tribe to raise. According to tradition, this was the only way a lasting peace could be made between tribes. While it was a heart-wrenching ceremony, Don finally saw the way to explain the sacrifice God made by sending Jesus, the ultimate “peace child” to make peace between God and mankind. When Don shared this with the tribes, they finally understood the significance of salvation through Jesus Christ. According to Mr. Richardson, Judas’ ratings dropped a huge deal when they realized that he had killed a peace child. 🙂 Shortly afterwards, many in the tribe began to follow Jesus and today this tribe not only teaches their own tribe about Him, but has brought four other nearby villages to Christ! This is one of the best examples I have heard so far of the redemptive analogy, but there are many more out there. A matter of fact, Don Richardson has a book  called “Eternity in their Hearts” which is entirely devoted to discussing and giving examples of how this method has been used since biblical times to open doors to sharing the gospel.

What I heard this weekend was very encouraging in a couple ways. For one, it is uplifting to know that God goes ahead of us, preparing the work of missionaries, often times with an analogy that opens the door to sharing the gospel. It is nice to know that we are not the first to come into these tribes with the Good News…God has already been there. Secondly, it is inspiring to hear of the joy God gives these new believers and the passion they have to go share the Good News with others once they have been released from darkness! Their testimony pricks my conscience to realize what kind of passion I should have to share the gospel since I have been released from that same darkness myself!

There was so much more discussed, but I thought I would only choose the highlights. To wrap it up, I just want to say that I am so thankful to God for all that He has done lately in missions! I am especially excited to see how He is giving people the desire to reach out to those who have not heard His name and to become His ambassadors “to the ends of the earth”.

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