Our Best Laid Plans are often ONLY the Beginning for God
Boise Bible College is a terrific place for young people to grow their faith, learn to live with a Biblical lens, and shape their vision for a life of ministry. Jacob Edmonds grew up in the small town (less than 500 people) of Maupin in Central Oregon on the Deschutes River. If you wonder where Maupin is located, it is pretty much in the middle of nowhere – 40 miles south of The Dalles, OR; 90 miles north of Bend OR, and 2 hours from the closest major airport in Portland.
He was born into a loving Christian family and was baptized early in life. His family attended a family camp/missions conference at Winema Christian Camp called Week of Missions every summer. There, starting with the toddlers through youth, mission speakers would challenge them with stories of far-off places, the 10/40 window, unreached people groups, and the excitement of breakthroughs in languages and Bible translations. The vision of the camp is to enlist all ages in sharing the gospel worldwide. This influenced Jacob, but it wasn’t until a very challenging summer camp directed by Jim Putman (BBC BS’93) and Bruce Jones (PSCC BA’86) that he felt the call to missions personally. That camp was life-changing and really opened his eyes to the everyday situation the persecuted church around the world finds itself in. Jacob saw just how blessed he was to live in the US, and for the need of missionaries to bring the Gospel to all people and that he should have a part of sharing the Gospel.
The “how” for him came after he heard a Mission Aviation Fellowship missionary share about how they use aircraft in the most remote places on earth to bring physical and spiritual transformation to the most isolated people in the world. Then reading the biography of Nate Saint, a missionary pilot to Ecuador, and his future was sealed. He set his path to becoming a pilot.
He researched what Christian college to attend while preparing to fly planes for MAF or another mission organization. His church, The Dalles First Christian Church, had sent several kids to Boise Bible College, his older sister, Krista Edmonds/Wogamott, had chosen Boise Bible, and a Preview event in high school helped him decide on Boise Bible College. But the real factor was when he joined the National Guard, and his unit was based in Pendleton, Oregon, and the Guard would help pay for school! Jacob served with the Guard for 10 years as a helicopter mechanic.
Jacob talks about his time at Boise Bible:
“I was such an aviation/helicopter nerd that during class, I would get so antsy and distracted when I heard a helicopter fly-by that certain professors would stop class for a second and let me run to the window so I could see them.”
Jacob was impacted in a significant way by professors. He especially loved Mr. Byerly’s quirky sense of humor and musical talents, Mr. Faber’s discipline, soft-spoken and thoughtful, very genuine nature, and Mr. Whittaker’s openness and hospitality. Jacob served as the president of the Mission’s Committee and helped boost the Missions Emphasis Week to be an entire week of chapel speakers and events. The year he helped, Doug Priest Jr., then president of Christian Missionary Fellowship, was the speaker.
Jacob may have learned as many skills outside the classroom during his time at Boise Bible. When John Whittaker and Bruce Wheeler started the New Beginnings Church in Kuna, John asked Jacob to help with the youth. The age span was large, and there were both lifetime church kids and unchurched kids. The lessons needed to keep the interest of the high school kids but not be over the top for the younger students. The experience has helped him in many ways as he had taught at other churches and as he parents his two young boys, Wesley, 5.5, and Jack, 3.5.
His memories on campus included setting sprinklers to spray on the doors of the girl’s dorm, and since the doors opened inward and there was one way out…they had fun holding various “stuffed animals” for ransom. He remembers trips to the cheese factory almost weekly with Natalie (Wood) Schuessler and Holly (Harrison) Zigga, and others. He would load as many students as they could fit into his old black Mercury Grand Marquis boat of a car for a trip to the $1 movie theater. He was a big spender, and if “poor” students couldn’t afford the $1, he would pay.
Life After Boise Bible College
Jacob graduated from Boise Bible in 2002 with an Associates’s in Bible with plans to become a pilot. He planned to move to Eugene, Oregon, to attend Lane Community College’s Aviation Maintenance program. He needed a place to live and asked Bob Hogberg, one of Boise Bible’s directors, who lived in Eugene, for help. Bob set him up to live with the Jessee family, where he stayed for nine years. (The Jessee’s have helped with the Gray Crew for many years.)
He attended the Aviation Maintenance Program, but before taking the FAA mechanics certification tests, his Guard unit got called up to active duty deploying to Afghanistan. When he returned, he started the LCC’s Flight program. For the next 11 years, he worked for TSA to pay the bills and kept working towards his dream to be a missionary bush pilot. Knowing that MAF would not take on people with significant debt, he tried to pay for everything as he went. He needed to build up flying time, and that is very expensive. Along the way, he met Rochelle; they married, bought a house, and have two sons now. He kept working towards his dream with encouragement from his wife, who had also received a call to missions at an early age.
He finally completed all the necessary certificates, licenses, and ratings, and all that was needed to reach MAF’s minimum requirements was flight time. Struggling to make progress building flight time, he decided to go back and finish the mechanics’ ratings and look for a better paying job as a mechanic to pay for flight time. That was a good idea, but initially, it meant he worked as a mechanic’s apprentice, in addition to his full-time job with TSA! In the Fall of 2019, they made a massive leap of faith and quit his jobs and spent a month in Arlington, Washington, at Mission Aviation Training Academy to finish the last few flight hours he needed.
Everything took a considerable turn at this point, and “his” plans for missions flying “flew” away, but he saw how God had been preparing him for something else. In Jacob’s words, “To say it was a bit of a shock would be a huge understatement as I had spent the better part of 20 years working towards a goal, but there was no arguing that it was God who changed the plans so what could I do? I Called MAF and asked them if they would still have me as “just” a mechanic. They were thrilled as they had been praying specifically to bring on board an aircraft mechanic!”
Since that point, life is a blur sometimes. He passed the Tech. Evaluations and proceeded on to Candidacy where together they learned more about the history and heart of MAF as an organization. They have fallen in love with the people and the mission. They spent 2020 raising support, as much as COVID allowed, visiting/speaking at churches, attending mission conferences, family camps, and attending a marriage retreat and many, many Zoom calls!! God has been faithful throughout the process, bringing timely encouragement and many confirmations that they are right where they should be.
Today Jacob is on staff with Mission Aviation Fellowship as a Maintenance Specialist with an assignment to Papua Indonesia. As of April 2021, they are at MAF Headquarters in Nampa, ID receiving “Standardization and Orientation” training. Standardization focuses on getting him up to speed on aircraft maintenance. Orientation at MAF is geared towards preparing the recruit and family emotionally, relationally, spiritually, and culturally for serving as full-time missionaries overseas. Their current goal is to be 100% funded by June 2021 (they are at 84% as of April) and leave for 10 to12 months of language school at Salatiga on the island of Java. They hope this is the start of many years serving with MAF to advance the Gospel worldwide.
Just like Boise Bible College, MAF celebrated its 75th anniversary this past year. This past month, MAF flew into a brand-new airstrip. People from the village had been dancing all morning in anticipation of their arrival. They had a short ceremony that included prayers, praise songs, and reading scripture from Psalm 21 where David says, “The king rejoices in your strength, Lord. How great is his joy in the victories you give! You have granted him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips.” In moments like this, you realize how much it means to people to have a MAF aircraft come to their village. With great enthusiasm, Jacob says, “I can’t wait to get to the field to help maintain MAF’s aircraft so they can continue to fly in support of Bible translators, local pastors, indigenous churches, providing medical and disaster relief, and community development projects.”
Jacob gives this encouragement,
“Community is something I have sought after and have found very rarely since leaving BBC. There are few places I have found the same level of belonging and deep friendships than at BBC. It is something that I value highly personally.
At some point or other in your life, you will have to own your own faith. What I mean by that is to honestly understand why you believe what you believe and to know that it is true. After high school, you can’t get away with just believing what your parents believe or afford to be lazy with your faith. BBC helped me, through research, relationships, and service, to answer the hard questions and see faith lived out genuinely in the staff and my fellow students. So before you go out into a hostile world that seeks to break you down and mold you in its image, take a year or 2 or 4 and spend some time in a positive environment and get to know yourself and the God you made you in His image.”
You can find more information about Jacob and Rochelle on the MAF website: https://maf.org/missionaries/edmonds/