David Sonju with Mike Bunn on Global Mission Engagement

Q: What is JAARS?
A: JAARS is Jungle Aviation and Radio Service. It’s basically just the technical branch of Wycliffe Bible Translators.

Q: How do you help students catch a vision for missions when there’s the world outside telling them that “losing your life” is a pretty unattractive position?
A:Well I think first of all, of course, if your students and the families that they come from are well read in the Bible, they hopefully will get a different message than that. But I know as a child growing up, my parents would read to us the stories of missionaries every night. So we would read a book about, ya know, one missionary, Nate Saint, or somebody from India. So we’d hear these stories and get inspired by them, of all the things that God was doing around the world. That was one way we became interested. And then my parents and our church also made it a point to take us when they could to places, whether that was downtown with street people or to Mexico to work with villages down in Mexico. That was another way they instilled in us a vision. And then my family personally encouraged all of us boys to take one year between high school and college and do mission work and see something else. It’s not about me. Go out there, learn more about God, get close to God, but also serve Him for a year, and then go to school.

Q: Was there a particular missionary or story that you heard as a young person that particularly grabbed your attention?
A:Well, there were a lot—Hudson Taylor for me was incredible. Reading the stories of some of the early missionaries like him who left family, went by ship . . . some of these guys would pack their coffins full of their belongings knowing that they were gonna die where they were going.

Q: Over the years, how many students—because of presentations like this—at least put the idea of missions or missionary service on their list of possibilities?
A: I’ve been overseas the past 25 years or so. And here in the states, when I come home to the states, I visit my Christian college where I went to school and I speak with a lot of the guys there about serving God overseas as an option other than the airlines or anything else. And a lot of them are very interested in that. I’ve kept up with a number of them through their 4, 5 years of college life and seen them end up on the mission field, maybe a dozen, maybe more. But the reality is taht kids get called into missions at a much, much younger age. So I mean your kids are out there at the helicopter—those 5-year-olds—they’re the ones who will get called.

Q: What advice would you give to your young, school age self, about looking ahead at life and all its possibilities?
A. Well, I would look for any opportunity I can to help other people read the Bible and what it says about reaching the lost—Jesus in the New Testament. It opens up their young or my young mind to things other than myself. I mean we grew up with everything we needed. Once you’re overseas and you see the reality and hear the stories of the reality of the third world . . . reading about it’s one thing, seeing it is another. So having an opportunity to see it, not every 5-year-old or gradeschooler can see that, but a high schooler can. So take that opportunity.

Q: How can we be praying for your ministry in the year ahead?
A: JAARS is, of course I told you, it’s a technical side. So we end up needing a lot of people who are not your stereotypical missionary. Ya know it’s not typically the preacher. It’s not necessarily even the Bible translator. I come from a mission originally Youth With Mission, YWAM. You know I was doing evangelism and work all around the world.

Note: Mike Bunn, JAARS Instructor, and Mike Mower, Director of Missions at the Airport, a former airplane pilot who served in the Philippines, recently landed one of their helicopters on Covenant’s campus to introduce students to their global missionary outreach. JAARS exists to make Bible translation and language development possible, especially in the most remote and difficult places on earth. We do that by enabling locally-appropriate and sustainable solutions in transportation, technology, media, and training. Learn more at www.JAARS.org.