Aviation: A Ministry of Flight

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Nate Killoren and his family live in Nairobi, Kenya and support the work of the Church through aviation and medicine. Their daily life might seem “normal” at first glance—sending their kids to school on the bus in the morning and working in an office managing a team—but the nature of life in aviation ministry lifts far above the city, out into the ends of the earth.

The Killoren family joined SIM in 2007 and arrived in Nairobi in 2008 as a part of the SIM South Sudan Team. It was soon after that Nate was seconded to AIM AIR, a non-denominational mission aviation organization that assists any Christian organization working in East Africa. SIM has always relied on AIM AIR for transport in this part of Africa. Since SIM and AIM AIR started their partnership in 2007, both organizations have benefitted greatly from working together and are focused on reaching those who live and die without hearing the Gospel.

As Chief Pilot, Nate Killoren coordinates trips to provide resources to missionaries serving in the most difficult to reach places in Kenya, Uganda, DRC, CAR, South Sudan, Tanzania and occasionally Rwanda and Burundi. He is responsible for ensuring that the pilots are thriving, well trained and equipped, and are aware of and compliant with all pertinent regulations, policies and standards. This work is essential to the ultimate mission—sharing the hope of Jesus Christ with the nations. Here he shares about this unique ministry.

Through your ministry you are able to respond to need in multiple countries. What is the biggest need in East Africa?

The biggest need in Africa is the Gospel. It sounds cliche, but I am more convinced of that fact the longer I live and work here. The Gospel is the only thing that can bring the hope and restoration that people desperately need. I love SIMs three-fold purpose of Respond to Need, Proclaim the gospel and Equip the Church. These three things must be done in concert by people that are passionate about the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I see far too many ‘development’ projects with questionable motives, methods and results. It is important for the people of God to always maintain a commitment to sharing the Gospel. It is easy to lose focus of this primary need and miss opportunities to share the only message that brings lasting hope and restoration.

What has this ministry taught you about evangelism through meeting needs?

The ministries in Doro and Melut, South Sudan are perfect examples of how SIM marries the three purposes of SIM. The formerly sleepy village of Doro has turned into a collection of massive refugee camps as tribes flee persecution in Sudan. Through its clinic and nutrition village, SIM is responding to acute needs in this population. The SIM team works alongside believers from each tribe to proclaim the Gospel to these communities that were hard to reach and have now been brought to our doorstep. Through discipleship ministries, as well as the theological college in Melut, SIM is able to help equip the leaders of the church to carry forward and multiply the work of Gospel. We need to meet the needs that are in front of us and also take advantage of the immense opportunities to proclaim the Gospel and encourage and equip the leaders of these churches.

How does your role fit into the overall work of global missions?

At AIM AIR, we say ‘we haul salt’. Our role within the overall work of global missions is to carry the salt of the earth into areas where it is least prevalent. We constantly look for ways to provide strategic and economical support to those who carry the message of the Gospel into places that are extremely hard to reach. We try to position ourselves and our equipment at the ‘end of the line’ and provide missionaries with a way to get their people and supplies into their locations of ministry. When these pastors and missionaries can spend more time in their places of ministry and be better equipped and supported, they are freed to use their passions and gifts to make Christ known.

What do you love most about the unique way in which you serve?

I love being able to serve such a wide variety of people. The landscapes we cover are extremely varied: deserts, 17,000-foot mountains, rainforests and even swamps. We get to see so much of the diversity of creation—most notably, the diversity of the people God made in His image. We are able to assist people who are sharing the Gospel with some of the most forgotten and marginalized people on the planet. That is extremely rewarding!

Tell us about the Caravan project. What are the goals with this project? How can people help?

This project’s goal is to exchange the smaller aircraft that SIM purchased almost 8 years ago for one that will more easily support the current needs. This new aircraft, through its larger payload and seating capacity as well as its reliance on Jet fuel, increases the ability and overall efficiency of supporting the work that Christian organizations are doing throughout East and Central Africa.

The smaller SIM aircraft has already been sold and its proceeds will support the Caravan project, which is a $1.45 million project. A sizable grant was received that covered half of the cost, but in order to complete this project, SIM needs $50,000 by the end of September. The plane, which is being refurbished in Ohio, should be ready in October. Once the purchase is finalized, the aircraft will be flown to Africa and put directly into service supporting the ministries of SIM, AIM AIR, and other organizations supporting the Church. If anyone is interested in giving towards this remaining need in order to allow this plane to be purchased on schedule, they can give easily online. Give Now!

What is your vision for the future of this aviation ministry?

Lord willing, this aircraft will be a workhorse for the Kingdom of God. It will crisscross East and Central Africa carrying missionaries, pastors and essential cargo to support those who are responding to need, proclaiming the gospel and equipping the Church.

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