By Jamie Shafer
Imagine someone who travels the world and encounters a mission field of opportunities each day. Initially you might envision a missionary connecting with others in a foreign land, but that individual could just as easily be a pilot or flight attendant who is connected with the Fellowship of Christian Airline Personnel (FCAP).
With origins dating back to 1971, FCAP was formed by a group of airline pilots who felt a calling to reach their fellow pilots for Christ. As the group gained momentum, its reach expanded to include flight attendants, ground crew, and all airline personnel. According to their website, about 50 people representing eight major airlines attended the initial organizational meeting in 1973, merging likeminded groups from Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis, and several other cities. FCAP, based in Fayetteville, Georgia, now has a global impact, with fellowships located in 45 locations around the world.
Paul Curtas, FCAP General Director, said, “The workplace is a wonderful place where we feel challenged or even defeated at times. It’s a place where we can experience God’s provisions but also opportunities.”
The FCAP vision reflects the importance of those regular opportunities, stating: “Our prayer and desire in FCAP is to see God connect Christians together in every area of the airline workplace throughout the world; so that people in airports, offices, technical centers and in-flight operations will have an opportunity to see the presence of the Living God working through the lives of his people on the job.”
Paul points out that while a missionary often has to learn a new language and culture, those who serve in the airline industry are already immersed in the unique culture. Because pilots and flight attendants spend so many hours away from home, even something as simple as church involvement can be challenging. FCAP helps them connect with each other for support, encouragement, prayer, and Bible study through locally led fellowships. Although many of the connections happen through personal invitations and sharing, airline personnel can visit the FCAP website to locate the fellowship nearest to their base airport or in areas where they will be traveling.
During his 24 years with FCAP, Paul often hears stories of how lives have been impacted through their work. He said, “One day we had a pilot call the office and he said, ‘I would like to tell you my story.’” As Paul listened, the man shared that he flew with other pilots who were connected with FCAP. The man admitted he had taken multiple opportunities to ridicule his fellow pilots and their beliefs. He said their responses were always gracious even when his behavior was not.
The skeptical pilot shared that if he spotted FCAP publications during his travels, he would even take the time to throw them in the trash. His own life changed when his wife began to go through some intense life struggles, battling a bout of depression. During that time, the kindness and faith of those pilots came to mind. He remembered how they were constantly pointing to God in their own lives. He shared with Paul that, at that point, he prayed, “God, I don’t even know who you are, but if you’re real, show yourself to me.” Within two months, the man became a believer and began following Jesus.
Heading Toward the Future
Paul often hears stories like this one—where impact takes place one person at a time. He added, “By the time you retire, you will have spent about 90,000 hours in the workplace. If you attend church regularly, you will only spend about 3,000-5,000 hours in the church.” If workers fail to see their workplace as a mission field, they miss the opportunities to fulfill Christ’s commission in a greater way.
When asked about the future, Paul shared his excitement about the recent launch of their app and the potential for developing new leaders. In order to ensure that they are equipping fellowship leaders, FCAP also offers a workplace training series to help people connect with God and others in the workplace. Some churches request the training to help their congregations catch the vision of daily living on mission in workplaces.
Paul said, “The Lord is bringing a new generation in, which we’re exited about. We’re going to continue to see God raise up Christians and groups in the workplace around the world, so they will be salt and light there.”
Jamie Shafer is a communications strategist for Fishhook Communications in Indianapolis, Indiana. She and her husband, Eric, have two children.