“We often define missionaries as a certain type of person such as an evangelist or a translator,” Erik Lofgren said. “But there is a lot of work behind the scenes to make those things happen. There is a role for everyone to be a part of reaching the world with the gospel.”
For years, Erik and his wife, Terry, were active in a church focused on missions. “I was content being an airline captain with American Eagle and supporting those going to the mission field,” said Erik.
When the 2010 earthquake hit Haiti, a businessman from Lofgren’s church used his private jet to fly surgeons to Haiti each week. Erik, meanwhile, felt called to put his business degree and nonprofit marketing experience to work, and provided fundraising assistance to purchase jet fuel.
But Erik wanted to see the work in Haiti firsthand, and went along to assist in any way that he could.
While in Haiti, he met people who were starting businesses in Haiti to provide work and income for the Haitian people. “These were guys like me,” Erik noted. “Their mission work was entrepreneurial but still kingdom-building.”
Erik came home thinking that there could be a place in missions for him and his family.
Terry — also a pilot — suggested they begin looking for an organization that could use their aviation experience.
“I wasn’t too open to that,” Erik confessed. “Flying was keeping me away from my family too much, and I didn’t really want that to continue as a missionary.”
Nevertheless, the couple began to investigate several mission organizations that needed pilots. And then a call came from Chuck Michaels, director of management and professional recruitment for Wycliffe. While Erik couldn’t be a pilot, Chuck explained that his business education and experience, coupled with his military experience, could benefit Bible translation in a managerial role.
And there was a business development manager position open in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Erik’s knowledge of airplanes and experience would even benefit him in this role!
“If we had pigeonholed ourselves, we would never have gotten to this place where we can have such an impact,” Erik said. “We were able to go the place where God was pointing us to go.”
God used all of Erik’s prior work experience to prepare him for his current role in the mission field. For instance, Erik is able to bring an industry perspective to the mission field, and even has the opportunity now to serve as the crisis management team leader for the entire country — a job that both his work with American Eagle and the military prepared him for!
As for the advice that he would give to others? “You need to be open to change,” Erik concluded. “We are not defined by our careers but by who we are serving — God and those who don’t yet know him. Hold onto that and not onto a job title.”