Pilots for Christ Expands Gospel-Outreach via Free Transportation

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Pilots for Christ 235Lori Layne is president of the Michigan chapter of Pilots for Christ.Dennis Emmons was a homeless, penniless man dying of brain cancer when Lori Layne agreed to fly to Houston and transport him to the Sparrow Hospital in Lansing. In and out of consciousness, Layne succeeded in receiving an answer from him that served as a comforting balm to his estranged sister.

Layne, president of the Michigan chapter of Pilots for Christ (PFC), flew Emmons to Michigan in 2011 at the request of his sister. Between the drugs to manage his pain and the disease itself, Emmons was not always coherent.

Add to that challenge was the fact the flight back to Michigan was dodgy because of nearby ice storms and blizzards that Layne’s plane never encountered, a fact she attributes to God’s Providence.

Yet, through it all, transporting Emmons to Michigan wasn’t Layne’s sole priority.

Why they do what they do

“I looked at Dennis, a hardened man, and asked if he had accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior. He replied, ‘Yes, I have accepted him.’ Had I not asked that question, I would not have been able to tell his sister (of that fact) and she could not have anticipated seeing her brother in eternity.”

“We spread the Gospel by providing free transportation to those that have a need.”

The 32-member Michigan chapter of the nondenominational PFC, launched in 2005, is part of the 500-member Pilots for Christ International, which was established in 1985, according to PFC International’s website.

“Anyone who joins, professes Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior,” said Layne.

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The Mitten State chapter averages 20 flights annually. They fly people who need to be transported to hospitals, hospice care or, in the case of missionaries and pastors, need to go to far-off places that require air transport.

Some sick people cannot board a commercial airliner because they are too susceptible to passengers’ communicable viruses and bacteria, another reason PFC’s single-engine planes are advantageous.

“Most (people in poor health) are too far away and can’t tolerate an 11-hour drive,” said Layne.

No charge for services, it’s about souls

The Michigan chapter of PFC is housed in a hanger at the Paul C. Miller Sparta Airport in Sparta, where Layne is its manager. Inside are the single engine planes PFC relies on to fulfill its mission that are members-owned.

They include a Mooney M20C, which Layne and her husband, Timothy, president of PFC International, own, as well as a Beechcraft Bonanza, V-tail Bonanza and three 172 Cessnas.

Some members also serve as “autopilots” PFC’s term for members who drive people to their destinations.

People are never charged for PFC’s services, said Layne.

“We don’t think it’s about your money,” said Layne. “We think it’s about your soul. If they don’t go to a church we try to connect them with one.”

The Michigan chapter of the PFC operates with an average $6,000-$10,000 annual budget made possible through donations, according to Layne.

She believes their operating budget could increase if they were able to fly people more often because word-of-mouth serves as a credible donation-draw.

In progress goal: 58 Baron Beechcraft

That’s where Gayle Wiers comes in. She’s on the front end of locating the sources to raise $400,000 for a 58 Baron Beechcraft, which includes the cost of buying the plane, insurance and gasoline.

michigan capital235An aerial view of Michigan’s capitol during last year’s National Day of Prayer.Such an aircraft would enable them to fly people three to four times a week because it has the capability of deicing its wings during weather conditions that the Michigan chapter’s current available planes cannot do.

“In May during the National Day of Prayer, I took a flight over the (state) capitol and prayed,” said Wiers, who is not a pilot. “I felt the Lord say, ‘Start raising money for the plane.’”

Looking ahead, the Michigan chapter of the PFC will host its annual convention Sept. 9-11 at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island for pilots and those who are not, and will include members from a nationwide total of 24 chapter who participate in general and breakout sessions, fellowship and a church service.

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http://www.pilotsforchristmi.com/home.html

www.pilotsforchrist.org

Author Information
Paul R. Kopenkoskey
About:
Paul R. Kopenkoskey is a full-time freelance writer and editor for an assortment of publications including Grand Rapids Magazine, Grand Rapids Business Journal, and Faith Grand Rapids magazine. He has completed his first novel with the working title, Karl Beguiled. He and his wife, Barb, live in Wyoming, Michigan. They have three children and five grandchildren.

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