The Liberty Gazette
November 10, 2015Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Linda: With Thanksgiving near, and grateful for plenty, this week’s episode of Ely Air Lines takes a peek beyond the usual missionary flying. While we are ecstatic about flying and love to share this bliss with others, as Christians, what is the most important thing in all of life is God.
We aviators are a passionate bunch. We’re plane crazy. I’m not sure whether aviation does that to us, or it just draws that type of person likely to be so in love with flying that it dominates nearly every thought. Regardless, for a Christian who is also a pilot, sometimes our faith isn’t given as much attention as our flying.
Bill Starrs is a pilot from Pennsylvania who prayed for God to help him put his priorities in order. Reverand Starrs recognized his severe dedication to aviation but he wanted to live a life that shows he loves the Lord more. Feeling the nudge to let God upgrade from the back seat, Starrs put his enthusiasm to work to create an association of like-minded people that would provide free public benefit flying and ground transportation. Serving in this manner would make use of flying, which dominated his life, to honor God’s calling. Pilots For Christ International (PFCI), affectionately called "Our Lord’s Airforce", was the result of this prayer. "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:21, Luke 12:34)
The concept started taking shape, planning began, and a new prayer was added when Bill asked God to send 100 new members to the organization in its first year. His cup overflowed when, on December 31 of that year – 1985 – the 200th application for membership came in the mail.
With chapters throughout the United States and several other countries, PFCI now provides charity flight services, ministering to thousands of people while offering a way for aviators to serve faithfully
One of the chapters in Florida has become Servant Air Ministries Incorporated (SAMI). This inter-denominational non-profit partners with Angel Flight, Mercy Flights, pastors and churches to fly people in need, and to advance the gospel in the United States, the Caribbean and Central America.
Affiliates of PFCI are Mercy Wings International, Transport for Christ, International (dedicated to reaching, supporting and encouraging truck drivers), and Compass Aviation, which provides access to food, medicine, mail, supplies, and technical support for overseas ministries.
Mike: Over the years life has been breathed into other aviation specialty ministries, too. Air Show Ministries, founded in 2009 by Cam Roberts, offers spiritual support to military and civilian air show performers, organizers and spectators through volunteer Chaplains and Ministry Partners onsite during shows. This group prays for each performer participating in an air show and posts prayer requests for their social media followers to join in (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).
Air Show Ministries’ show-quality vehicles on display at air shows, car shows, air museums and other related events draw spectators in to learn about their mission. Perhaps you saw them at Wings Over Houston this year with the display car, "Angel9". On this fancy tribute car sporting the Blue Angels paint scheme you’ll find original art under the hood, navigational and directional lights, cockpit-style displays, mock ejection seats, and a custom audio and video system, but at the heart of it all you’ll find thankful people who want to share their joy and the Source.