Doug's Story

Growing Up In Montana

I was born and raised in the Flathead Valley in Northwest Montana. My dad worked his whole life in the lumber industry, most of it spent "peeling logs" in a plywood plant in our home town, Columbia Falls. My mom drove a school bus for 25 years. At age twelve, guns and motorcycles were my major life occupations until after my junior year of high school. My prayer on my way to Glacier Bible Camp that summer was, "Lord, I don't want to be the same person when I come home in 5 days." That week, I experienced the Holy Spirit in a powerful way and my life has never been the same (I still enjoyed guns and motorcycles).

After graduating from Columbia Falls High School in 1982 (yes, I survived my teens), I went on to Northwest Bible College in Kirkland, WAmy youth pastor suggested I try one semester. But after one semester, I was going to join the military. Ever since my first airplane ride at six years old, all I ever wanted to do was fly. I wanted to fly Army attack helicopters.

Experiencing God

I did not go to Bible college to get "called" into the ministry, but a soul-searching conversation with a professor led to a two week wrestling match with God. I finally relented and said "Yes, Lord". God had so powerfully changed my life, I couldn't comprehend walking away from His plan for my life. I gave up my dream to fly to follow the Lord wherever He would lead... even if it meant being a youth pastor!

After my junior year, I was back at my home church in Columbia Falls doing my youth ministry internship. Towards the end of the summer, after a Sunday night service, a friend handed me a brochure talking about mission aviation—missionaries who flew airplanes into the bush to tell people about Jesus! That was it. I could be in ministry and fly at the same time! The moment the thought went through my head, the Holy Spirit confirmed it, "that is what I've had planned for you all along."

It was a Genesis 22 moment for me. By God's grace, like Abraham, I stepped out in faith and surrendered my future to the One who wired me with the desire to fly in the first place. And the One who's ways are so much higher, gave the dream back in a way I could have never imagined.

Flying Bible Translators

After graduating from Northwest College in 1986 with a BA in Youth Ministry, I dove headlong into the missionary adventure starting with flight training at Moody Bible Institute's Mission Aviation program in upper east Tennessee. I graduated three years later with my airframe & powerplant mechanics license and my commercial flight certificate with an instrument rating. The best part was meeting and marrying my East Tennessee bride (that's another story).

Jo and I became Wycliffe members in 1995 and after raising our support and attending pre-field orientation, we were assigned to serve in Papua New Guinea (PNG). In our first term (1997-2000), I logged over 1,300 hours supporting Bible translation in one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world.

Visions & Dreams Part 1

While we were serving in PNG, Wycliffe USA adopted Vision 2025, the vision to see a Bible translation project started in every language needing one by the year 2025. The goal was humanly impossible and far beyond Wycliffe. It was a vision for the whole church. I wondered, what would it take to see the church embrace Bible translation in a more significant way? As we traveled home on our furlough in the fall of 2000, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart, "I gave you your dream to fly to prove every other dream is possible." The Lord was using this God-sized vision to stir up a global-church-sized dream that would be a catalyst in the decision to not return to PNG.

Visions and Dreams Part 2 — The Akebu Story