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Cherry Blossoms

Douglasses 2020

The Douglasses

Life is ministry. Whether both serving as missionaries or both in secular work, or some combination of the two, the question is always, “How might God be using us to further the His Kingdom?”

With a special heart for personal discipleship, Slick / Rich and Donna have been known to meet one-on-one and in small groups for intentional study and reflection. They are also certified marriage mentors through Dare to be Different which is based on Dr. Eggerichs’ book Love and Respect

Having met like oil and water in 2000, Slick and Donna met again in 2005 after God had worked significant changes in them both. This time they melded well after Slick decided Donna, who’d just finished the Korean Ironman Triathlon, had the mettle to survive him. They married the following year. En route to earning their Masters’ in Biblical Exposition (teaching and preaching the Bible), Rich and Donna combined triathlon training and racing with ministry through Fellowship of Christian Athletes – Endurance (FCA-E), an international network of evangelical endurance athletes. In response to their studies, they pioneered a partnership between FCA-E and Set-Up Events, the South Carolina state triathlon race series organization.

Additionally, God combined the Douglasses’ research, seminary classes and experience in the endurance sport world to build a weekend-long seminar (now called Endurance Ministry Institute or EMI) on testimony-writing and sharing the Gospel in the context of endurance sports. They have since adapted it to other contexts as well.

After retiring from the Air Force, Rich and Donna served as missionary pilots in Africa and the South Pacific nation of Palau. While doing other secular work, Rich served as an assistant pastor responsible for worship and discipleship at First Baptist Church in Cloudcroft. In the wake of Donna’s dad succumbing to leukemia, Rich pastored Washington Valley Chapel in Morristown, NJ until the Douglass’ move back to Misawa, Japan where Slick taught F-35 to the Japanese Self Defense Force pilots…and mentored several chaplains and pastors in that remote location.

Along the winding path, they also began a family and now are raising three sweet young girls, Zoe Noelle (2009), Matilda Grace (2012) and Gwendolyn Joy (2014).

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Rich (aka Slick)

Slick (aka, Rich) retired from the Air Force in April 2010 after 20 years as an F-16 pilot and international strategic planner. Since 2002, Rich has poured his life into ministry, guiding small groups, training ministry leaders, conducting strategic planning seminars for churches and Christian organizations, creating a national evangelism training program and even spearheading a statewide ministry for Fellowship of Christian Athletes. His main passion, however, remains one-to-one discipleship, where he intentionally helps move men through a weekly program that prepares them to disciple others who disciple others, who disciple others…

Rich has earned a Doctorate of Ministry in Global Leadership from Nyack College and Seminary in New York, an MA in English Literature from Midwestern State, an MA in Air and Space Science from the National Defense University and an Masters in Biblical Exposition (teaching and preaching the Bible) from the  nondenominational Columbia International University Seminary and School of Missions in South Carolina.An insatiable learner, he now reads all the books he’s put on hold while guided by a syllabus. He is ordained in the Southern Baptist tradition and is licensed with the CMA.

Rich’s spiritual journey has been just as varied as the rest of his life, beginning in a synagogue in Los Angeles. He worshipped as a practicing Jew until viewing “The Cross and The Switchblade” at age 13. At the altar call following the movie, he was the first to kneel and ask Jesus to be his savior, saying, “I need whatever the guy in that movie has!” For the next 23 years, he was in and out of churches. At age 36, frustration overwhelmed him: despite all of his efforts, the Bible was as empty and silent to him as it was powerfully alive to others that he knew. He finally reached the end of his rope. While deer hunting from a perch in a tree, Rich literally cried out to God to open the Word to him, “You have got to change this!” The next day at Bible study, God did. And the rest has been the continual blessing of growth in knowledge and in life. Jesus had been Rich’s Savior since 1979, but only after that day in the tree has Jesus become, more and more, Rich’s Lord.

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Courtesy of the El Paso Times

Donna

Donna’s life has also been rich and varied, including titles such as wife, mother, triathlete, writer, combat veteran, Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) and first female F-117 Stealth Fighter pilot, all of which she sees simply as platforms for ministry.

Never the norm, Donna has been featured in “100 Greatest Women in Aviation” (she appears as “Kirby”), in several newspaper articles (El Paso Times and Alamogordo Sun) and an online interview in “Winged Victory, Women in Aviation Web Magazine”. More recently fellow pilot and writer Pierre-Philippe wrote an article on her called Une Femme Furtive (in English: Une femme furtive – english) that was published in the French magazine Aviasport. She has also been invited to speak to veterans, women and students of all ages.

As a freelance writer Donna’s tales of the front lines have been published in the National Endowment for the Arts’ books Operation Homecoming (2004) and Grace Under Fire (2007), in Officer Christian Fellowship’s “Command” magazine (2003, 2011) and in Columbia International University’s “Connection” magazine (2008). Her online publications include an article for PCAnews.com (2003) and several devotionals for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (“EVERYTHING In It” and “Fix My Eyes”, 2008). She also maintains this semi-active blog.

More recently, Christian Camp and Conference Association (CCCA) published her article on Collaborative Leadership. She also researched and created a two-week leadership camp program from Camp Cedarbrook, then helped teach it with resounding success.

As a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI), Donna taught flying at various points along their journey. She also earned a degree in Biblical Exposition (teaching and preaching the Bible) from Columbia International University seminary. An avid triathlete, she was the top female amateur triathlete in South Carolina in the Set-Up Events series in 2007 and 2008, and used triathlon as a platform for ministry through Fellowship of Christian Athletes – Endurance.

How did all that come about? Having grown up in New Jersey looking forward every year to one week at summer camp, Donna learned Bible study skills and basic leadership in then-Camp Cherith’s robust leadership training program (years later she would be asked to revise the program and help teach it). Summers found her pouring into the next generation in a wide variety of roles until college graduation and moving west.

After four years skiing and working in Summit County, Colorado, Donna was commissioned onto the Air Force, where she served four adventurous years flying the F-16 Fighting Falcon during which she logged many hours of combat time in Operation Iraqi Freedom. She was then chosen as the first woman to fly the F-117 Stealth Fighter. After she met and married Slick, she transitioned to the AF Reserves as an Academy Liaison Officer for the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO, from which she retired in 2017.

The arrival of her first daughter Zoe in 2009, whose name refers to God’s gift of life,  impacted her sports but she has yet to stop racing – and winning. Donna believes that Zoe was God’s blessing in response to her hard-won submission to Him regarding children.  Now, she wouldn’t have it any other way. Children are truly a blessing from heart of Love Himself.

Conceived in France, gestated in Kenya and born in South Carolina, Matilda “Matti” Grace arrived in 2012. She seemed to be God’s affirmation of Donna’s decision to pour her life into the next generation instead of flying for Africa Inland Mission, though she had completed all the required training for mission aviation, to include a thrilling mountain flying course with Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) in Idaho and an immensely fun sea plane rating in Florida. In Palau, she occasionally filled in for Slick in the cockpit of PMA‘s twin engine Islander.

Unique even in childbirth, Donna brought Gwendolyn “Gwendi” Joy into the world in the back of Slick’s SUV outside the hospital in Misawa, Japan. That wasn’t the plan but God couldn’t have arranged it more perfectly, given the situation. Now Donna focuses on raising the girls, sometimes flying, still racing and occasionally directing races, thanks to Slick’s support on those fronts.

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Douglasses 2018

Here is the summary of our winding path:

While Donna was playing in Colorado post-college, Slick joined the Air Force and began 20 years of service as an F-16 pilot. A few years later, Donna followed suit then moved on to fly the F-117.

In 2005 we (Slick / Rich and Donna) met in Korea.

In 2006 we married in Colorado and moved to New Mexico.

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In 2007 we began our Masters at Columbia International University in South Carolina and Donna returned to teaching flying.

In 2008 we began work with Fellowship of Christian Athletes – Endurance (FCA-E), an adult, endurance sport branch of FCA. We also journeyed to Ecuador to see mission aviation in action. Click HERE to read about our adventures and view the pictures.

In 2009, God used us to create FCA-E’s Endurance Ministry Institute (EMI), an evangelism training seminar for FCA-E. Slick flew to Africa to meet the people of AIM AIR. Click HERE to read about his adventures and view the pictures.

Our first daughter, Zoe, arrived in August 2009.

In 2010, we handed off a Bible study for which we’ve developed several resources over the years, moved into our trailer and continued down the road toward mission aviation, training with Mission Aviation Fellowship in Idaho. (We had visited their Ecuador program in 2008.)

2011 found us in France learning French in preparation to go to Africa with Africa Inland Mission‘s aviation arm, AIM AIR, which Slick had visited in 2009.

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In 2012 we returned to the US for the birth of our second daughter, Matti Grace, and our path took an unexpected diversion to Germany for a year.

In 2013, God led us to Palau with Pacific Mission Aviation while Slick began doctoral work with Western Seminary in Portland. Where is Palau??

The South Pacific

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2014 moved us Misawa, Japan, working with the US Air Force again while Donna homeschooled Zoe for the first bit of kindergarten and Gwendolyn Joy made her debut in the back seat of Slick’s car just outside the hospital.

In 2015 Donna and the girls returned for their second year of working at Camp Cedarbrook in the Adirondacks in upstate New York. Slick settled in to Alamogordo, NM where he works at the F16 schoolhouse at Holloman AFB.

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In 2016 the girls returned again to camp, but for the first time in six years, we DIDN’T plow through an international move! Consequently Donna reconstructed the camp’s leadership training program.

In 2017 we moved to New Jersey near Donna’s mom to pastor a Christian Missionary Alliance church there.

2018 found us moving twice, once to Misawa again then on to Arizona for training.

2019 brought us back to Misawa, Japan where Slick teaches F-35 to the Japanese Air Force.

Along the way, someone asked us to continue our updates that seek to testify to God’s work in our work today and to encourage. This we’ve done even as we’ve journaled many deeper thoughts and taken millions of pictures. And we can testify that in his heart, a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps!*

Enjoy your visit.

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The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.**

* Proverbs 16:9

** John 3:8

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