Stoke Newington SDA Church is blessed with ambitious young people. One such young person is Asher McKenzie, I spoke with Asher who is an Elder at our church and dynamic lay preacher. I found it amazing to hear his story and the ways God has used individuals to make way for him to attain his dream of becoming a fully-fledged pilot. His life is a living testimony of the miracles God can do when you put your trust in Him. This is what Asher had to say…
When I was 6 years old I knew that I wanted to be a pilot. When I would tell people, often they would laugh at the idea seeing me as a cute child with an unrealistic dream. However, as I got older my passion and determination to achieve this dream grew.
Every decision I made, from GCSE subject choices right up to my degree, from joining the air cadets to serving as an RAF reserve with the University Air Squadron, has all been in preparation for this opportunity.
In November 2017, I started an Integrated EASA Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) course at Airways Aviation Academy in Oxford, which is basically an intensive training programme to become an Airline Pilot.
The total cost of the course is £89,980. Airways Aviation are so confident in my ability to successfully complete the course (based on my assessment scores and personal experience) that they have awarded me a £10,000 scholarship, bringing the cost down to £79,980.
The original plan was to take out a Private Loan tailored to Pilot Training. Despite the bank approving me, during my first wave of exams they pulled out without any warning leaving me to bear to full cost. I am not entitled to any student loan or other Government student aid as the course is not a degree programme, meaning that financial burden is 100% on me.
Having already used my entire savings combined with donations from my church family to pay down the initial instalment to start the course, I had no money left. Due to the intensity of the course we are not allowed to work and study, leaving me with no source of income. So I embarked on an ambitious fundraising initiative.
While others on my course were pulling their hair out over the sheer quantity and complexity of information we were being tested on, the greater stress for me was how I was going to remain on the course. Instalments are paid quarterly (spread over 4 payments) and there is great pressure from the school to keep up with payments or risk being suspended from classes and dropped from the course.
However, God has been faithful!! What seemed to be an impossible task now seems doable. From the original total of £89,980 I only have a remaining £24,490 to pay. I am behind on my July instalment by £5245 and will need to pay £19,245 on November 1st.
Despite the pressure and stresses behind the scenes, by God’s grace I have still been be able to stay on top of the workload and successfully pass the 14 subjects that make up the theory phase of the course.
As I start the practical phases of the course, I continue to ask for your support both through prayers and financial contributions. You can donate online via www.gofundme.com/keep-Asher-flying or in person (envelopes available). Any contributions you can offer will be greatly appreciated.
Having been approached by so many young people expressing how my journey has encouraged them not to give up on their life goals, this course is even more important for me. It not only enables me to fulfil my dream but places me in a position to inspire and motivate other young people within our community to believe beyond what they can see.