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Not By My Own Strength

By Joe Adams

Joe Adams, a pilot/mechanic in Lesotho, describes his technical evaluation as he was joining MAF in 2018 and tells how God used his instructor pilot, Tim Imbrock, to help him work through a difficult situation.

The airplane rolled to a stop on the 1600-foot dirt airstrip in Idaho and the engine was shut down. Many things had gone right on this training flight, but many things had not. The pilot under training—an instructor himself—was his own worst critic. He knew that after more than a week of flying with some of the best bush instructors in the world, he was only slowly progressing in learning MAF procedures in the Cessna Turbo 206. This training allows MAF pilots to safely operate in isolated, mountainous areas around the world.

As the two sat in a moment of silent reflection, discouragement washed over the pilot. His eyes filled with tears. He turned to his instructor and choked out: “If I can’t get through this training, I know that it’s God’s will and that’s the best for me, but it will be so hard.”

The instructor heard the desperation in the pilot’s voice. He had been a pilot with MAF for more than three decades and had faced his own setbacks. He knew what to do. Instead of sharing expertise on aerodynamics, airstrips, and aircraft, he addressed the root of the problem. He shared about a time when he cried out to God and told how God came through with unmistakable deliverance and strength.

He led the pilot in prayer and asked for ability, peace, and the power of the Spirit of God to enable him to accomplish the work to which he had been called. As they prayed, the burden and the discouragement lifted. No more problems to be hidden or overcome in his own strength. God calls, God equips, and God empowers His people to do that to which they’ve been called.

They returned to the training, and joy and confidence replaced trepidation and doubt. In the following days, prayers from the instructor and many others continued—and continued to be answered. There were still tough moments, but the pilot was empowered to successfully meet the standard. He realized that in flying, like in all of life, nothing can be accomplished in our own strength, but only through the power of the Spirit of God. He can say with the Psalmist:

“Blessed be the Lord!
For He has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.”

Psalm 28:6


Story appeared in the May 2020 FlightWatch, a special 75th anniversary issue:


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