We have updated our Privacy Policy to provide you a better online experience.

Up in the Air Efforts Raise Thousands for Missions

Sacrificing time and especially comfort, three ministers in three states spend days elevated up to 40 feet off the ground to raise money for missions.

Going Up in the Air on a small — sometimes very small — platform for 120 hours or so and not coming down except for a periodic bathroom break, takes a special kind of person. Those who think camping in a camper is roughing it, acrophobians (fearful of heights), those who easily become stir-crazy, and sleepwalkers (especially those!), need not apply. 

Youth Pastor Thomas Buchanan of Oologah (Oklahoma) Assembly of God spent nearly five days in a deer stand; Shawn Chapman, children’s pastor at CenterPointe Assembly of God in Mobile, Alabama, spent six days 30 to 40 feet in the air in the basket of a JLG man lift; and Shawn Rudy and his son, Carson, of Impact Church in Lake Wales, Florida, spent five days on a scaffolding platform all for one reason: to impact lives for Christ. 

Buchanan, whose tripod deer stand had him sitting or standing about 14 feet in the air with no room to walk around, says the effort went to support local charities and for Speed the Light (STL), the Assemblies of God missions program that supplies missionaries with transportation and communication equipment. 

Although living on an elevated platform for up to a week may sound like a lot of fun, it isn’t for the faint of heart. Buchanan, who was up in the air Nov. 6-11, says the evenings were cool to cold, and it rained all night his second night, where he only had an umbrella and a sleeping bag for protection. He adds that his wife, Angie, also sacrificed as she had to manage their house and children, while also having a job and going to school. 

“I wasn’t up in the air the entire time — I did come down from the stand to vote on November 8,” Buchanan says with a laugh. “Our youth were involved in promoting the event on social media and raising money through pledge forms — so far, $3,700 has come in.” 

“I applaud leaders like Thomas Buchanan who model that sacrifice and generosity isn’t always convenient,” says Heath Adamson, senior director of AG National Youth Ministries. “There is nothing convenient about being ‘up in the air.’ His effort and commitment reminds us all that ministries like Speed the Light fold into our day to day lives the importance of sharing the gospel with those who have not yet heard, even when it isn’t convenient.” 

Shawn Chapman, who went up in the air to help raise funds for Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge (BGMC) says, with the exception of a few days of heavy winds, he had near ideal weather for his effort, which took place Oct. 2-8 in Mobile, Alabama. 

“We have anywhere from 19 to 26 kids on Sundays in our children’s program at CenterPointe,” Chapman says. “We’ve already made our goal of $2,000 for BGMC this year — this was just something extra . . . and we raised $3,300 additional.” 

Chapman also went the extra mile to help raise interest and funds. On Friday, for an additional donation of $1, people could take two shots at the elevated Chapman with a paintball gun. “We raised an extra $350 that night,” Chapman says, laughing. “Yeah, I had some pretty good bruises too.” 

Shawn and his 11-year-old son, Carson, just completed their Up in Air challenge, which ran Nov. 18-23, in the parking lot of Impact Church in Lake Wales, Florida, where the wind chill in the evenings dropped down into the 30s! 

“Carson came to me this year and asked if he could join me for Up in the Air,” Shawn says. “For me, as a father, my son having a passion for missions and wanting to touch kids all around the world . . . to give up his school vacation time, that really touches my heart.” 

When Shawn says his son has a passion for missions, he isn’t exaggerating. Carson has a goal to be the first kid to give $100,000 to BGMC in his lifetime. That may seem like a childish dream, but as his father explains, so far they’ve raised $13,385 with the Up in the Air effort. To date, Carson has raised about $24,000 this year alone — and nearly $97,000 total lifetime — for BGMC! 

“It is amazingly exciting to hear the passion of individuals who will sacrifice their time, effort, and finances to make an impact for Jesus around the world,” says David Boyd, BGMC director. “I am so proud of Tom, Shawn, and Carson — may thousands of others do great things for STL and BGMC. Together we are helping our missionaries win people to Jesus!" 

“It’s been fun,” Carson says of his 120 hours up on a relatively spacious 10 x 20-foot platform, 20 feet above the ground. “When I reach $100,000, I’ll just keep on raising money because it’s helping people.” 

With this kind of drive, it’s not surprising that Carson already has his future planned out. “I want to be a missionary or pastor,” he says. “God has called me to be a missionary/minister to the northern part of Canada, where there are not many churches.” 

“I love it when I see leaders and students doing radical things for missions,” states Mark Entzminger, senior director of Children’s Ministries. “Some might think these outlandish stunts water down the seriousness of missions, but I see a great connection between leaders modeling the extreme lengths they are willing to go and that giving can be fun. I hope leaders all around the world will realize that every one of us can and should be doing something for missions.”

Dan Van Veen

Dan Van Veen is news editor of AG News. Prior to transitioning to AG News in 2001, Van Veen served as managing editor of AG U.S. Missions American Horizon magazine for five years. He attends Central Assembly of God in Springfield, Missouri, where he and his wife, Lori, teach preschool Sunday School and 4- and 5-year-old Rainbows boys and girls on Wednesdays.