Several years ago when I was a regional chief pilot for my company, a Christian brother entered my office frustrated. He commented, “I wish I could do something productive with my life as a Christian … I wish I had gone into mission aviation.” I looked at him and responded, “What an opportunity you have here!” He replied, “This is not the place for Christians to be … there is too much negativity here….” My response was that this is exactly why we need Christians within the airline workplace. Yes, there is sometimes discouragement, frustration, anger, bitterness and the like. But all the more reason shining lights amidst the darkness are needed there. It is a location for ministry … it could be considered a form of mission aviation.
We need to ask ourselves these questions: “Where is God allowing us to do missions for His glory?” and “Could my airline/airport work area be my ministry location?”
The Apostle Paul was a man who was transformed by an incredible life-changing experience because of Jesus. (Acts 9 provides an account of his conversion experience.) What he did with his life from that point forward serves as a daily reminder and challenge for all of us. Paul carried on ministry everywhere God placed him, and he faithfully did so even when those places were dark and discouraging. How was he able to do that? Why was he compelled to do so?
Paul wrote these words to a group of people at Colossi, “So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-4 NRSV). Paul’s identity was in Christ, and accordingly his eyes were on the Lord … not on life’s circumstances. Just as Paul did, we need to pray … and give thanks to God and praise Him, even when things do not go well (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). We need to consider that these challenges are opportunities to build character into our lives.
Within the airline environment, opportunities abound to minister. It may not always be feasible to verbally share our faith, but we can always live it. And when we think about it, our greatest expression of “missions” may be through the example we live before others.
Here is a story to ponder … An airline pilot was walking around and inspecting the aircraft when two passengers approached him and asked if he was a Christian. The pilot responded that he strives to be, but rather than answering for himself, it might be better if they were to ask other crew members, employees working on the ramp, or customer service agents. It would be those people who would be able to confirm whether or not the airline pilot was a reflection of Christ in his actions and words in his daily life.
How we live, even in the most challenging circumstances, can set the tone within our work environment. Be reminded that every action or word that is seen or heard makes an impression. As God’s people within the airline workplace, we can be enabled by the Holy Spirit so that we reflect Christ’s character in how we respond, speak, or act. We should always be ready to share, both verbally and in actions, who we are in Christ Jesus. And consider this: Even though our ultimate goal in doing our work within the airlines is for the Lord (Colossians 3:22-24), we will also be serving our earthly employers who will benefit from this as well.
This article was written by Eugene Kraybill. Eugene serves on our FCAP Board of Director and is Senior Chaplain of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Interfaith Chapels Inc. He ministers at the Washington Dulles International Airport, where he is also regional Chief Pilot for Mesa Airlines.