Saturday, September 23, 2017

Gering, Scotts Bluff County, Nebraska: Flying is a lifelong passion for pastor

GERING — Gary Hashley has pastored at Calvary Memorial Church in Gering for 10 1/2 years. If you can’t find him at he church he might be flying high above the community.

Hashley grew up deeply involved in the ministry as a missionary kid in Michigan.

“I was born into a ministry family. My parents joined a ministry in Michigan called the Rural Bible Mission when I was a month old,” Hashley said. “My dad’s ministry had us constantly moving. I went to five different schools between kindergarten and 12th grade and we lived in 13 different houses.”

Because of his parents’ ministry, Hashley came to faith early in life at the age of seven.

Growing up, Hashley had no intention or interest in becoming a pastor.

“When I went to Bible school out of high school I was still 17. I went to the Grand Rapids School of the Bible and Music in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and I started training to be a missionary pilot,” he said. “That’s where my flying began. My idea was to be a pilot, serving missionaries. My own personal goal was Alaska.”

Hashley earned his private pilot’s license and was starting on his commercial and instrument license when God showed him that was not the plan.

“It’s easy to do, he ran me out of money, because flying has never been cheap,” Hashley said, chuckling.

After meeting his wife Rachel in college and then lacking the funding to continue his piloting education, Hashley joined his father in Michigan.

“So I joined the ministry. Rachel and I got married 40 years ago and I joined the ministry my folks were with and spent some years in that same children’s ministry still fighting back against being a pastor,” Hashley said. “That was never what I had in mind. And then, finally in 1981, I got tired of telling God no and finally told him yes and became the pastor of the first church I pastored in Langford, Michigan, in 1982.”

Hashley and his family later moved to La Grange, Wyoming, in 1995 so he could teach at Frontier School of the Bible.

During his time at Frontier, Hashley worked as the interim pastor at Calvary Memorial in 1996 and 97.

“I always dreamed of coming back some day and here we are,” Hashley said smiling.

Hashley took a sabbatical from flying during that time. However, after moving back to Scottsbluff, Hashley and some friends founded the Panhandle Flyers Club.

“I was out of flying for 30 years, back when it was ‘feed the children or go fly’ and groceries took a precedent,” Hashley said. “Since I’ve been back here we’ve formed a flying club in the area that owns a plane. By being a part of a flying club the expenses are shared to the point where I can afford to fly again.”

Hashley expressed his excitement about being part of the Panhandle Flyers.

“It’s a wonderful thing because we have a daughter and her husband and five kids in Laramie so it’s quicker to get to Laramie to see grandchildren,” Hashley said. “So we use it a lot to go see the kids and the grandchildren.”

Hashley talked about his favorite thing about flying.

“I guess I never tire at looking down at the wonder of God’s earth he created from any altitude,” Hashley said. “To see the mountains, to see the valleys and the rivers out here and the reservoirs, it’s just astounding. I just love looking down on God’s beautiful earth.”

As a child, Hashley had a fascination with planes.

“I went up with a pastor friend of my dads who was giving away airplane rides as Vacation Bible School prizes,” Hashley said. “As the missionary’s son I got to go along when they went to the airport and there was room to give me a ride. I must have been in fifth grade and I’ve been in love with airplanes ever since.”

Hashley also talked about the people who influenced him in the ministry.

“My dad and his devotion to ministry, like I say I was a month old when he joined the mission,” he said. “My dad and mom were missionaries my whole life. In Michigan, not in Africa or South America, but their devotion and willingness to serve God even when the pay was small just was really a great role model.”

Along with his dad, Hashley’s pastor was also very influential.

“My pastor in my high school years was named Paul Deal. Paul Deal was such an influence in my life,” Hashley said. “He was not only my pastor, he was my friend and when I became a pastor he became my mentor. I would call him with questions and doubts and frustrations and he was always there to help me.”

While talking about the struggles and joys of pastoring, Hashley mentioned his favorite part.

“People,” he said without hesitation. “I just love people. And in helping people and teaching God’s word, it gives me the opportunity to serve them, encourage them, support them and get close to them. I’ve heard a pastor say ‘I’d love to pastor if it wasn’t for the people.’ I thought ‘he wouldn’t be a pastor if it wasn’t for the people.’”

Hashley said if he could go back in time to give advice to his younger self, he’d say don’t fight what God wants.

“I probably would tell myself to not fight God about being a pastor,” he said. “Because I had a lot of reasons in my head why I didn’t want to be a pastor and now looking back on 35 years of being a pastor and I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”

Original article can be found here ➤

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