Taking Every Opportunity
As an associate NCEM pilot, Gary (& Wanda) Brown makes time for at least two aviation outreaches each year. One is a Native family camp at Ponask Lake, northwestern Ontario. Gary flies over 50 hours shuttling families and groceries to the isolated campground. It’s his joy to help make possible this annual gathering for Bible teaching and fellowship.
The other outreach takes place each winter as Steinbach Bible College students are flown into a few northern Manitoba communities. Gary spends 8-10 days with the students. Together they assist Native fellowships with children’s and youth outreaches and home visits.
Garden Hill has been one of those places. “Pastor Arnold Flett tells us which homes to visit,” says Gary, “and this past winter we saw a number of people come to the Lord.”
At Oxford House they assist Pastor Silas Sinclair. “I really have a heart for these communities,” says Gary, who regularly phones Silas throughout the year to encourage him. Next year the teams have also been invited to Red Sucker Lake.
Gary also does some commercial flying, but mostly it’s his company, TRG Construction, that keeps him busy. Along with his employees he does house construction and renovations within 100 miles of Prince Albert.
Gary Brown (l) in northern Ontario. The late Jack Barkman (r) initiated the Ponask Lake Family Camp.
On the job site and with building suppliers, Gary isn’t shy about his faith. He knows there are comments about that “blankety-blank preacher,” he says, “but later some of those same guys will come to me if they have a prayer request, or need advice.”
Recently a lumber store employee came up to Gary and said, “You’re a minister, right?” He told Gary that he hadn’t been to church for a long time, but he needed to talk about his life.
“I’m not even sure who told him about me,” says Gary, “but there are many opportunities if you take them. I take every opportunity.”
When visiting northern communities for commercial reasons, Gary notices the difference, as compared to flying in as a missionary. “I can talk about things of the Lord right away,” he’s noticed. “If they think I’m a ‘minister,’ then not so much. But if I’m considered just a carpenter or a pilot, I’m more on their level.”
Sometimes, when flying doctors into northern settlements, Gary gets asked to talk to patients – these doctors know when the problem is a spiritual one, not just physical, he says.