*

Navigating the Skies: The Path to N'Dorola

Blaine Warner loves airplanes. He received his pilot’s license before his driver’s license, and he always knew that he wanted to be a commercial airline pilot one day. But combined with his desire to fly were also nudging, recurring thoughts about Africa – thoughts that began when he became a Christian at a young age.

Blaine Warner loves airplanes. He received his pilot’s license before his driver’s license, and he always knew that he wanted to be a commercial airline pilot one day. But combined with his desire to fly were also nudging, recurring thoughts about Africa – thoughts that began when he became a Christian at a young age. When he was 20 years old he visited Disneyland with his mom and went on a ride called, “It’s a Small Word,” in which a boat carries passengers though different scenes from around the globe. As the boat took them past “Africa,” God said very clearly to Blaine, “This is where you’re going!” But Blaine didn’t believe it. He was going to be a commercial airline pilot.

Blaine had done well in his career flying small airplanes in Regina. Soon he began a corporate job flying the president of a company all over North America. But he was bored. All he knew was limos, shopping malls, and five star hotels. Knowing that God had to be calling him to more than just this, Blaine whispered a prayer from 25 000ft in the sky as he sat alone in the cockpit. The sun was setting, and as he marveled at creation, a falling star dropped straight down the middle of the windshield. Enchanted by the beauty of the moment he thought, “Ok, God, you must have me exactly where you want me…so I’m content.”

But time went on and the urge for something more grew. Blaine prayed that God would show him right now what he should do. As he prayed he heard the sound of his mailbox closing and when he got up to check it he found literature about supporting Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), a ministry that sends planes for disaster relief and other support. Eventually he found himself in the Calgary area and looked up the director of recruiting. Over a series of meetings, Blaine heard stories from the field which sparked an excitement that intensified throughout time. One day the director asked him, “Do you want to go?” His answer was yes!

Blaine spent the next eight years of his life flying to and from Angola with MAF. He loved the season he spent serving as a pilot, but over time God shifted the focus of his heart. Because of the war relief effort the supplies that he was bringing to Angola were humanitarian. After developing such a great love for the country and the people, his desire more than anything was to bring them bibles and share God’s word.

After returning home Blaine began dating Michelle and they were married in 2000. The couple knew that they wanted to serve together in missions and they had a pretty good idea of how this would look. Blaine had planned to fly with Emirates, the airline of the United Arab Emirates, and together they would focus on friendship evangelism in the Middle East. One day, however, he woke up dizzy and vomiting. A medical condition called Ménière’s disease had suddenly ended Blaine’s 22 year flying career.

Though he grieved the loss of his pilot’s license, Blaine and Michelle trusted that God must have had something ever greater than they could imagine in store for them. They decided to get involved in missions right where they were: the mission committee at their church in Regina. The church had recently adopted the Nanerige people group in N’Dorola, Burkina Faso and missionaries Phil and Carol Bergen were looking for someone to join the work there. The Bergens had postponed going back to Africa until a team was formed. Blaine and Michelle received a call from MB Mission and were asked, “Would you like to go?” Instantly their response was yes. They felt that the ministry in Burkina Faso fit them like a glove. Even while Blaine was still flying, Michelle had already felt a strong desire to work with the Nanerige, but she didn’t know if or when God would unfold that hope.

When Blaine recounts the story of his journey he sees how God, in His sovereignty and faithfulness, altered his coordinates to enable him to fulfill His calling. Blaine didn’t always reached the destination that he mapped out for himself, but God navigated him through an exciting passage that has allowed him to use his gifts to serve God and bring glory to His name. As the Warners return to Burkina Faso in January 2009 after three years of French and Jula language study, pray that God would prepare them for this next adventure that He’s placed on the map!

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9