Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.
Ever since we surrendered to God’s call to become missionaries to Missionary Acres, missionary biographies have become even more impactful in our lives. We really enjoy reading about people who wholeheartedly served God. YWAM Publishing always does such a great job of taking missionary stories and combining them into great books. We’ve had the opportunity to review a few of their books in the past, and each time we are impressed with the quality. Their Christian Heroes: Then & Now series follows the life of different missionaries from around the world.
This time, we wanted to learn more about a missionary we’d never heard of before. So, we selected the book, Christian Heroes: Then & Now: Betty Greene: Wings to Serve.
What Is This Book?
We received a paperback book with 195 pages of text. It was broken into seventeen chapters. At the beginning, there was a map, showing all the places Betty Greene served as a missionary.
The book is a good quality. It held up well to multiple reading sessions. And the kids really liked how each chapter had a little airplane by it’s name.
How Did We Use This Book?
We decided to take this book on the road with us. I read it aloud on a trip across Washington, on our way to present our ministry in Port Angeles. I was able to finish almost the whole book on the way over, and then we finished it up on the way home.
It was nice to read aloud and have the whole family listen. We had some great discussions based on the story.
Who Is Betty Greene?
One of the first facts that caught our attention was that Betty Greene was a local missionary. She was also from Washington State, having grown up on the shores of Lake Washington. This was something the kids really enjoyed hearing. They are familiar with the Seattle area, and we’ve driven by Lake Washington before. Finding little ways to make connections like that in books really helps bring them to life.
But, let’s move on to the rest of Betty Greene’s story.
She had a love for flying. Growing up, she followed the journeys of aviators like Amelia Earhart and Richard Byrd and Bernt Balchen. She was hooked on flying, so when her uncle gave her and her twin brother each $100 on their 16th birthday, her parents agreed that she could use part of hers for flying lessons. And though those funds weren’t enough for her to earn her pilot’s license at that time, she enjoyed every moment of her flights.
When she finished school and had to make a career choice, Betty wasn’t sure what to do. It wasn’t socially acceptable in those days for women to become pilots, so her parents convinced her to attend the University of Washington and study nursing. Betty complied, but hated it. She knew she wasn’t meant to be a nurse. Her parents eventually let her withdraw, and she started helping her father at his office. She also assisted with the youth group of her church.
In the newspapers, she read about the end of the Great Depression and the start of World War II. During this time period, her older brother and his wife left the US to spread the gospel in China.
Betty longed for a purpose in her life. She didn’t want to help her father forever, but she didn’t know what the Lord had for her. Then,Betty met a family friend for coffee.
As a part of this conversation, the woman asked Betty what she wanted to do most. She answered:
I like to fly…but I know that on my income that’s a frivolous waste…I love helping to run the youth group at church.
Then the woman gave Betty some remarkable advice:
Do you think God might have given you both of these interests for a reason? Perhaps you should think of combining them and using flying for some Christian missions work.
This idea had never occurred to Betty before, but she loved it. She started praying that God would help her use the desires of her heart (flying) to serve Him. And God moved some mighty mountains.
God directed in amazing ways, and Betty completed training with the military to join their new program that allowed women flyers. It was originally called the Women’s’ Flying Training Detachment (WFTD), but it quickly turned into the WASPS (Women Airforce Service Pilots).
My husband and I had both heard of the WASPS before, but this book was the first time either of us had ever learned about it in detail. The training was extensive, and Betty endured a lot of harassment for being a female. Many people didn’t want women there at all.
She eventually ended up in an experimental squadron, and the tasks she was asked to do were incredible. Though she was scared at times, she trusted that God would see her through this so she could serve Him with the flying skills she was gaining.
It was astonishing to see how God orchestrated Betty’s life. She knew she had to finish her commitment to the military before she could begin doing mission work. But then, something unexpected happened, an obstacle that could have been devastating, but instead was a turning point in her life.
The WASPS were decommissioned without warning, and their roles given to men.
And all of a sudden, Betty had time. She’d been connecting with other Christian pilots during her time in the military, and there were plans simmering to create a Christian Airmen’s Missionary Fellowship. After Betty’s service ended, she moved to Los Angeles to begin making this dream a reality.
Growing a Ministry
Betty poured her heart and soul into this project. Her faith was inspiring. She was blazing the trail for something that’d never been done on a large scale before, using aviation to help missionaries on the ground. She jumped full force into fundraising and awareness raising.
And the Lord blessed her efforts. She not only raised money and helped get the organization off the ground, she was their first pilot. She served Wycliffe Bible Translators in Mexico and Peru.
Betty’s ministry took her around the world. She served the Lord in several countries. The book detailed some harrowing encounters, some of which were a little much for my younger kids. For instance, she and a couple of other missionaries were walking in the jungle when a warring tribe burned down the town they needed to walk through.
There was definitely a lot of danger in Betty’s life.
But through it all, her love for God remained. And she was able to serve Him with flying. She shuttled missionaries and supplies, cutting their travel time by great amounts, and helping to keep them safe from harsh travel.
The Study Guide
YWAM Publishing has a study guide to accompany each of their books. We received access to a study guide about Betty Greene. The goal of the guide is to help readers learn more about the people, places, and events from the books. These were a little tricky to navigate, as it’s all web based and there are different sections to explore.
The Betty Greene section had a quick biographical overview of this missionary.
The Curriculum Unit Study was the most in-depth section. There were several options to choose from:
Thankfully the email from the company explained where to go, as it would have been confusing without insight. The Guides section tell you how to use the guides in your particular setting. In our case, we went with the Classroom & Home option.
Then we had to open the Unit Study Part 1 and Unit Study Part 2 to get to the meet of the study. It provided some additional information about Betty, some ideas for integrating Bible study into our reading, and some other project ideas.
For each chapter of the book, there are also four questions:
- Factual question
- Comprehension question
- Open-ended question
These offered some good points for discussing.
We didn’t really dive into the study guide for this book, though there were some great ideas in there. We did talk about some of the vocabulary words and ask some of the questions to see how the kids’ comprehension was going.
What We Thought
My older kids, my husband, and I all enjoyed this book. If you’re going to read it aloud, I think 8-10 is a good starting age. My younger kids weren’t quite ready – though they did enjoy hearing how God worked in her life.
If you’re looking for an inspiring missionary biography that’ll also has some fascinating information about women pilots and the use of airplanes in the ministry, you should definitely give this book a read.
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