SOLDOTNA, AK (September 12, 2013) — Joel Oyoumick of Unalakleet has become the first Alaska Native pilot for Missionary Aviation Repair Center (MARC), where he begins serving this fall.
Since 1964, MARC has flown people and supplies, including food and medicines, to places where there are no roads. Their work includes transporting children from remote villages to camps.
MARC also supports other missionaries and their aircraft, and trains missionary-minded pilots and mechanics.
“We have seen God grow our hearts for missions for a while now, and I got to see all the different ways MARC serves various ministries when I did my initial flight training in Soldotna,” Oyoumick said. “I had heard two different sermons in a relatively short amount of time that I felt God was using to call me—one of them I was listening to while I was flying.”
Oyoumick’s wife, Sarah, added, “Through the years, we have seen and been directly on the receiving end of this ministry. We cannot express how excited we are to be joining this ministry to reach Alaska’s people, who have been woven into our hearts for so many years.”
After a missionary aviation family that ministered with MARC moved into his home village, Oyoumick began to dream of flying planes. Don Irvine and other MARC pilots encouraged him to pursue his goal.
A graduate of Covenant Bible College, Oyoumick has earned his commercial, instrument, and multi-engine ratings, as well as an associate degree in aviation maintenance. He has worked as an aircraft mechanic for a commuter airline in Anchorage and as a pilot with a cargo company out of Unalakleet.
“Having seen Joel grow up in the Covenant Church and grow in his faith along the way, it is wonderful to see him take a step of faith as he follows God in a new call to vocational ministry,” said Curtis Ivanoff, field director of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Alaska and the first Alaska Native to hold that post.
“We are hoping that Joel will be a catalyst to encourage other Alaska Native men and women to follow his lead,” said Mark Swenson, MARC chief pilot.
Pilots at MARC are considered missionaries and must raise all of their own support.
Anyone wanting to support the ministry or staff on a regular basis or with one-time gift can send checks to Missionary Aviation Repair Center at P.O. Box 511, Soldotna, AK 99669, or give online.