Keeping mission vision alive and growing A quarterly publication of Mission Data International

Archive for August, 2008

Davis Interview: Missions and aviation

Monday, August 25th, 2008

This issue’s interview is part two with Chester and Amy Davis. I’ve known Chester and Amy for 15 years now. They live with their four young children in Lincoln, Nebraska while Chester finishes up a mechanical engineering degree.

Chester and Amy present some ideas here that are challenging and outside of the norm; I was hoping for this when I emailed them about doing this interview. In their own words, they are living intentionally. Their intention: To serve God in the area of missions that uses their gifts and fills a need. They are as dedicated as anyone I’ve personally known in living out this desire. While not everyone will agree with all of their observations or exhortations, the sacrifices they’ve made along the way are something every aspiring missionary needs to seriously consider.

Propel: How long have you been interested in long-term missions? When and how did this interest begin?

Chester: I was brought up in an environment where it was not possible to be completely self-absorbed and where ministry in all forms was encouraged. So it really has never crossed my mind to not be involved in some type of ministry. Going the standard route of fifty-plus hours a week and watching football on weekends has been something that is near repulsive to me. The only specific change I recall is that while in the Military my heart was enlarged towards other nations and cultures.

Amy: When I was young my parents wanted to be missionaries, so I’ve always looked up to missionaries as some sort of celebrity, hoping that someday I would be that cool. With age that has taken different forms; I chose to major in computer science in college so that I could perhaps use that computer skill to work with Wycliffe. During college I was involved with International student ministry, then I wanted to go to India or a Muslim country. After getting married, we learned that JAARS does research and development in the missionary aviation field, and think that this is a good match for the passions and abilities that God has given us.

Propel: You’ve been pursuing missions aviation for a number of years now. How and why is aviation important to missions?

Chester: Aviation remains a key component to world missions because of the lack of transportation infrastructure in the undeveloped portions of the world where missionaries are doing Bible translation and humanitarian oriented ministry. While the need has declined since the advent of radio and satellite communication, some locations simply require access for supplies and personnel that is not feasible by other means. Missions and aviation has always turned my crank, and so when the opportunity to combine these things exists why would I look for anything else?

Propel: You’ve committed to a significant amount of schooling in order to fulfill a specific need in the missions community. How does a person interested in missions weigh the pros and cons of such lengthy preparation in lieu of getting to the field more quickly? (more…)

Educating your way to the mission field

Monday, August 25th, 2008

by David Armstrong

Why get formal education and training?
Why repeat other people’s mistakes? Why not make original ones? Other people have gone before you and learned things that can aid you in preparation for the mission field.

Whether it is formal or informal, benefiting from the experience and wisdom of others is what education and training are about. And it is not something you do once and then forget about it. It must be a lifetime habit. Whether it is a conversation with a peer over coffee, four hours listening to a conference speaker or the distillation of a leader’s best thoughts into a book, you regularly need it to sharpen your mind and skills.

Formal training is regularly scheduled and available at various Bible Schools and Seminaries. Training at one of these is recognized by mission organizations and ministries. You can accomplish the same on your own, but you are on your own – both to figure out what you need, how and where to get what you need and then to convince an organization that you now have what you need.

Bible school
I grew up in a good solid church where the Bible and life application were regularly preached; I taught vacation Bible school, Sunday School and clubs such as AWANA during High School, which further got me in the Word. So for me, Bible School is where I synthesized what I believed. There I systematized what I had learned in church and on my own and, in a sense, systematized what I teach as well.

Bible Schools offer one to four year programs which will give you a certificate or a Bachelor’s degree in Bible or a ministry area. Some of them also offer a one year intense graduate program giving you a Bible background to complement your Bachelor’s degree in a non-ministry field.

If you grow up in a church and you sense God leading you into ministry, you usually go to Bible School for training. If you are saved while in college, and then sense God leading you to ministry, you usually go to Seminary. Seminaries commonly offer a two year Masters of Arts program, a three year Masters of Divinity and a four year Masters of Theology. Other people go to both Bible School and Seminary. (more…)

Start with a good name then add content

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

We finalized the name for the new internet resource center for aspiring missionaries. Can I have a drum roll please? The name of the website will be…

Although we tentatively used that domain name to refer to the project for awhile, we did not know if it would go over well with the intended audience. On our quest to make a final name selection, we brainstormed 200+ alternate names, eliminated all but five, and made a survey. Fifty aspiring missionaries gave us their input. The result? emerged as the leader. We think it is a good name to work with—a solid name that relates well to the content of the website, has few negatives, and is easy to remember and spell.

A good name only goes so far though. Ultimately the content on the website supersedes the name. We are happy to report progress on the content the front!

In May, an intern from JBU edited down the footage from several missionary interviews and our pilot run of an organization headquarter tour. In July, we set up the ability to post the videos on That brings us to beta version 0.6 for the website! Hurray for progress! You can watch these first samples at . Or watch them via our YouTube channel. If you have a YouTube account please subscribe to the channel and add us as a friend.

Although we have made progress, we also encountered a few setbacks. Unable to figure out a satisfactory method to get around closed country issues for the mission field reports we envisioned, we decided to put production of these video clips on hold indefinitely. Also, our week long mission trip to produce a series of mission agency headquarter tours fell through. Between staff training, travel, and office remodeling projects, summer is not a good time to schedule these tours for the mission agencies. In fact, it may be pretty near impossible to coordinate producing a series of tours in a one week time frame. Lining up the schedules of multiple organizations is tricky! We’re not abandoning the idea though. We will just have to work out a different way of accomplishing the goal.

The next few pieces of the website we are working on are a directory of mission organizations, a logo for the website, and producing more video clips. Content. Content. Content!

Resource Highlight: The Journey Deepens

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

The Journey Deepens has retreats coming up in October and November. This weekend retreat will deepen your relationship with Jesus and help you explore what it is like to be a missionary, discover whether a missionary or sender role is God’s fit for you, and connect with mission agencies. The core of the retreat and the key distinctive is the discussion groups with six prospects and two missions coaches which meet four times throughout the weekend.

Find out more by following this link.

Prayer and Praise

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

News: Website name finalized. After gathering input through a brief survey, a name has been chosen! M-DAT staff have been working in earnest on a resource to help aspiring missionaries get to the field. That website,, is now in very early stages. Core components of will eventually include video interviews and tours, a readiness assessment, and a searchable database of sending organizations.

Prayer: Wii golf tournament. We’re planning a Wii Golf Tournament as a fundraiser this Fall. None of us here at M-DAT actually golf, and using the popular Wii video game console complements the technology aspect of the ministry. Pray that preparation will go smoothly and the event will be successful.

Praise: Inquiry increase. Two months ago we made a few small adjustment to the process for inquiring about mission opportunities posted on The result surprised us: A significantly higher than expected increase in inquiries being sent to our partner organizations. More inquiries = more successful connections. More successful connections = increased involvement in mission!

News: 1 million searches. In April the 1 millionth mission trip search was performed on!

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