Originally published in Mission Network News
What image comes to mind when you hear the word “missionary?”
Some may picture an evangelist or two braving new territories as they carry Bibles to a tribe that’s never heard of Jesus. Others think of Christians in action: people going to a foreign land to share the Gospel and make disciples.
Soon, you’ll be hearing more about “space missionaries.”
Faith Comes by Hearing is launching a new Aerospace Division, headed up by retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Gregg Leisman. Aerospace programs will expand FCBH’s use of satellite technology to broadcast Audio Bible content worldwide.
“When you look at what the need is, as far as getting the Bible out, small satellites are a really good solution for that,” explains Leisman.
“It used to be satellites were built the size of a school bus and cost hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars. We’re starting to build things the size of a briefcase that might cost $200,000.”
That means that micro-satellites (as they were formally known) can beam God’s Word into homes traditional missionaries can’t reach–for a fraction of the price.
“You have places where people are looking…to learn about things in a ‘restricted’ society–restricted at the terrestrial level, but very open at the global level, or at the satellite level,” notes Leisman.
FCBH is currently taking advantage of this by using satellites, or space missionaries, to give people in the Middle East safe access to God’s Word in Arabic and Farsi. With Leisman at the helm, the ministry hopes to expand their reach to Southeast Asia and give people access to over 100 languages.“Direct TV (it’s really direct-to-home because they’ll use [it for] radio,also) is extremely plentiful–much more plentiful, actually, than in the United States.”
“Opportunities have been opening up left and right throughout this, that [in] 20 years of satellite and telecommunications experience, I rarely see–even with the Air Force,” Leisman says.
Air Force honours
Leisman graduated from the US. Air Force Academy with academic distinction in astronautical engineering. He was also awarded Master’s degrees in Space Systems Management and astronautical engineering.
Among his career achievements, Leisman was the chief of operations for GPS satellite processing at Cape Canaveral, Florida, where he oversaw the launch of five GPS satellites and received the Air Force Association’s Best Space Operations award. He has led 37 program teams with over 290 managers, engineers, and technicians who have developed and tested satellites, aircraft, and space launch vehicles. He has also been a space systems engineer at the Air Force Research Laboratory, which included managing a $250 million portfolio in micro-satellite research.
Most recently, Leisman was squadron commander and then director of the $1.7 billion Space and Missile Test Complex at Arnold AFB. He was subsequently in charge of the Integrated Activation Team for a new command and control system for the Air Force’s $17.6 billion Space Based Infrared System.
Leisman also deployed to the Middle East twice, has over 550 HALO jumps, and was a graduate and instructor at Test Pilot School with a career total of 360 hours of flight test time in 41 different aircraft.
“We realize Lt. Colonel Leisman had a great many opportunities to choose from, after such a decorated career serving our country,” says Troy Carl, vice president at FCBH. “That’s why we’re so humbled and overjoyed by his decision to bring his talent to this ministry and use his experience and expertise to further the fulfillment of the Great Commission.”
For Leisman, partnering with FCBH was the realization of a long-held desire.
“A lot of times you feel, as an engineer, you don’t really have much to offer in world missions; yet, we’re all, as Christians, called to it,” he explains.
When he learned how mnistries were using technology to distribute the Bible, Leisman knew his chance to get involved in missions had come.
“I think sometimes we think you have to go learn Hebrew and Greek and get out in the field, and that’s fantastic work,” says Leisman.
“But, I’ve really been encouraged seeing people that want to do science or technology can get involved in what the Church is doing around the world. I encourage people that are in school, in engineering, that you can be part of missions.”
Why it matters
Space missionaries aren’t just a “cool” idea: they’re a crucial component of the Great Commission. As Leisman stated in a recent press release, “This will be the first time in church history that we can deliver the Bible to virtually anywhere on the planet in near real time.”
Pray for wisdom and discernment as Leisman begins his new role as the Aerospace Division’s leader. Ask the Lord to bring the right teammates and supporters alongside this new project. Pray for adequate funding to support all phases of development.“All three are very much -needed to really accomplish God’s goals,” Leisman notes, adding, “Prayer is our #1 need, from the beginning to the end.”
In addition, “Satellites and any kind of Bible distribution [require] funds, and so that’s a great way to get involved.”