Written by Russell Stendal Jr.For twenty days, starting the first of December 2012, Christian McConnell, Ethan DeLong, my little brother and I were instructed by a great jungle pilot in Missouri. His name is Lionel Smith. He and his wife, Sarah Smith, are the founders of a Jungle Pilot Training School called Christian Wings for the World (CWW). Their mission is simple: they train pilots who want to be missionaries in difficult countries. They also prepare pilots who want to be part of a mission like JAARS or New Tribes Missions, where pilots must have certain skills to be able to fly for that mission. CWW is based in Missouri and has two landing strips, one main hanger and seven little hangers. They count on a Cessna 180, 150, 170, a Glasstar, and a twin engine Cessna, now they also count on our airplanes, a Cessna 172, 182, and 185.
It all went together really fast for us to go to Missouri to receive our flight instruction. One might say it was in God’s plan all along, although it had only been in our plan just a week before. Lionel did not have his medical license because long ago he had an accident that maimed his kidneys and had some internal damage. One of his eyes is also deteriorating drastically, so he could not instruct pilots or even fly with pilots who did not have a tail-wheel endorsement. Christian and Ethan worked mainly with my dad to receive their endorsement. They needed this experience to be able to learn how to fly real Jungle airplanes with Lionel like a Cessna 170, 180, 185 and such. (They could only fly airplanes like the Cessna 172 that has a nose-wheel and is considerably easier to fly than a tail-wheel airplane.)
I spent a lot of my time training with Lionel and learning how to be a better pilot not only skillfully, but also spiritually. In the morning we would all wake up at 7:30 a.m. eat breakfast at 8:00 a.m. and would have devotions taught by Lionel from 8:30-9:00 a.m. We would have a time of school where he would teach us the basics of what we would learn that day from 9:00-10:00 a.m. The rest of the day some of us would start training with my dad and others with Lionel. Whoever was left would help around the property cleaning the hangers, washing their airplanes, doing an overall maintenance of the facilities. Lionel is a great instructor full of patience and wisdom; he always keeps your spirits up even when you mess up. He teaches you to think logically and critically, but overall he teaches to make God a part of your everyday flights (lives). He starts every flight with a prayer and ends every flight with a “good job!”
During our time, Lionel was a little disappointed that he did not have his medical license to be able to fully instruct students to be pilots. (This is a great hindrance because without it, he would not help the mission grow.) We were there over two weeks and at the end of our first week a letter from the FAA (the civil aeronautics of the USA) was delivered and inside was his medical license! This was very unlikely because of his grave medical condition. God definitely topped off those great weeks with a surprise that stunned even Lionel and gave us the assurance that this is where God wants us to be and to look forward to the work to come.Spirit of Martyrdom ministries has been blessed with the gift of a Cessna 172 and Cessna 182 within the past two years. As you read, the Lord put it on the heart of some godly instructors to volunteer their time and partner with us in currently instructing five young men and a woman in jungle piloting. We are blessed to watch as these young students develop piloting skills to serve the Lord in aviation throughout Latin America.
Written by Samuel Hernández
Somebody from Europe saw La Montaña, loved it, and decided to call us to see how he could help so that we could keep distributing books. At that time we were traveling all over Colombia showing the movie (it is a very good method to distribute the literature). So we told him about the Kids of Courage books and he wired money to the printing shop here in Colombia. When the printers saw the books and the willing heart of that person, they told me that it was the best material for children they have printed. So they decided to get involved in the project paying part of the printing cost. At the end, we received almost 30,000 copies of the children’s book called, God’s Outlaw – The Real Story of William Tyndale and the First Translation of the Bible into English. Can you believe the children of Colombia or even in Latin America learning (through these high quality books) that are now given to them for free! Men like Tyndale and Casio Doro de Reina paid with their lives for these precious translations. The Bible is full of stories of people paying a high cost (not talking about money) so that we now have what we know as the Bible. Even in the story of our Lord Jesus Christ, sacrificially paid with His life to save us and set us free.
Here in Colombia and probably all over the world, bad people recruit children and teach them to do evil at a very young age. We have the opportunity to counteract this, sowing in their hearts even from the age where they are learning to read. Kids in the countryside are learning to read with the Bible, or learning through the radio programs. Now we have the opportunity to do it through these high quality children’s books.
We interviewed Elmer, an ex-guerrilla commander. This is part of his story: “I was in the guerrillas for 33 years. I used to persecute Christians until God called me out like the apostle Paul. I did so much harm to the church. I would close down churches and persecute pastors…” (At this point, Elmer was unable to continue and broke down crying so I asked him how he got through that.) His response was: “The Christians took me in and showed me love and God changed me.” We have now placed a radio station under his care and along with his wife and kids, he is eager to see what the Lord has for him.
We are seeing more and more people come to know the Lord. The radio ministry, along with the book distribution continues to go strong; and other parts of the country are opening up to the Gospel. Continue to pray for the radio stations, that the enemy would not be able to shut them down. Pray for new converts like Elmer, that they would continue to move in grace and freedom knowing that God has forgiven them completely. This has been quite a year, and we have already run out of Bibles! Pray that the Lord would continue to provide us with more. Thank you for standing with us in prayer and support. God bless you.
Pray for Elmer and his family. ￼
We count it a privilege to serve the people of Colombia with you. Your prayers are invaluable to the Stendal family and our friends in Colombia.
Spirit of Martyrdom, CEO
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