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A Moody Aviation Tribute


Celebrating the Lives of Joochan Lee, Diego Senn, and Andrew Trouten

Joochan Lee, Diego Senn, and Andrew Trouten had a great deal in common. They were loving husbands, hard workers and dedicated to reaching the world for Christ through missionary aviation. Two of them were fathers. The other was looking forward to becoming a father for the first time.

They each wanted to serve God well. Missionary aviation motivated them to get up early each morning, to study hard and to learn the intricacies of the aircraft they would one day fly on the mission field. Mention their names to friends and you immediately hear words like excellence, sacrifice, encouraging and faithfulness.

Moody Aviation is based in Spokane, Wash., on Felts Field.

“As much as the three men had in common, especially their passion to serve Christ, each had a unique personality and their absence has left a palpable hole in our hearts,” said Jim Conrad, Moody Aviation program manager. “They will be dearly missed. Andrew, Diego and Joochan were wonderful men of God, dear brothers in Christ, and we hold on tightly to the precious truth of God’s Word that we will see them again one day soon.”

Joochan (“Austen”) and Andrew (“Trout”) were excited to begin their fourth year at Moody Aviation. This was the year they would finally fly an aircraft. After three intense years of studying, mechanics and preparation, they would be prepared for mission-field flying. Diego was a flight instructor at Moody Aviation, and he was also a Moody Bible Institute graduate himself who enjoyed pouring his skills into other students.

“My prayer is that God will heal the hearts of families, friends and the mission community these men left behind,” added Conrad, “and that Yahweh-Yireh (The Lord will Provide) would prove Himself faithful as the families’ sustainer and provider. I also pray that the Lord will use this tragic event to ignite a fire of desire within the hearts of men and women around the world to serve in world missions, just as He has done before, such as in 1956 after five men gave their lives to reach the Waorani tribe in Ecuador.”

Joochan “Austen” Lee was a fourth-year Missionary Aviation Technology student. The 24-year-old was recently married to Yuki, whom he met at Moody Bible Institute’s former biblical studies campus in Spokane. Days before the crash, Joochan and Yuki learned that they were expecting their first child.

Joochan grew up in a missionary family, with his parents serving in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. As an adult, he came to the United States to pursue education and mission aviation training. “I wanted to learn more about God through a solid Bible curriculum that Moody offered as well as train to be a missionary pilot, something that is much needed on the field,” Joochan said in a recent newsletter to those who supported him and Yuki. “I packed my bags and flew in faith believing that God would be in control.”

Joochan met Yuki in an intercultural studies class at Moody Bible Institute in Spokane where she was a TESOL major (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). According to a friend, the two first met when Yuki’s tablet broke, and Joochan offered to help fix it.

Yuki and Joochan had a great deal in common. She grew up in a missionary family serving in Japan. They married in April 2017. Yuki said, “Joochan wanted to be a missionary and go into places that couldn’t be reached by car. He wanted to fly in with supplies, medical, food and Bibles. I was open to doing anything he wanted to do. I wanted to follow him.”

Friends describe Joochan as a hard worker, someone who was both quiet and kind. One of Joochan’s closest friends and classmate said, “He was faithful to what he thought God was leading him to do, whether in church ministry or by going to school. I was impressed by his commitment to Christ and missions.”

One of his Moody Aviation instructors said, “Humility and selfless love characterized Austen more than anything else. When his wife got a job working early morning shifts, Austen adjusted his schedule so he could drive his wife to work, then would come to the hangar to study and work as a janitor.”

Joochan and Yuki Lee.

Joochan and Yuki attended and served with a local Korean congregation in Spokane. Joochan became an assistant pastor and worked with the children. Another close friend and fellow fourth-year student remembers Joochan sharing his excitement when he learned he would become a father. He was devoted to Yuki and wanted to care for her and their child. Finances continued to press on his life throughout his time in the United States. But just before he died, he learned that an anonymous donor had paid his debt for the last semester. That gift was a huge encouragement to him.

Joochan recently wrote, “When my heart was starting to feel burdened [by the pressures of school and finances], I was once again reminded of why God called me to Moody. Before the Ascension, Jesus said in Acts 1:8, ‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ As God has called both our families to the mission field, I believe God has also called Yuki and I to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth through aviation. Above all, we can be the salt and light of Jesus Christ as we are exposed to people who do not know Christ.”

Just one day after Joochan’s death, Yuki and her mother went to her first ultrasound appointment. A friend reported that the moment was bittersweet, but Yuki left “grinning from ear to ear.” Joochan’s friend said, “If she can find hope, then there is hope for us. I’m glad this baby is a source of joy for her.”

Andrew Trouten, or “Trout” as his friends knew him, was a fourth-year student at Moody Aviation with Joochan. Born in 1988, Andrew grew up on his family’s ranch in Montana. He loved attending and serving at a nearby Bible camp. There he would meet and marry his wife, Rebecca, in July 2016. “He really loved working with his wife,” said a classmate of Andrew. “They were both rancher’s kids. He really respected her and how hard she worked.”

Despite his commitment to the ranch and his family, Andrew was drawn to adventure. He spent six years in the U.S. Navy (2006 – 2012), working on a ship as a welder and hull technician. He worked in coal mines and oil fields, and even owned a skateboard company.

But after his brother died in a car accident in 2013, Andrew felt God redirecting his life. “I think it caused him to come to grips with who God was,” said a close friend and one of Andrew’s fourth-year classmates. “He asked God, ‘What do you want from me?’ and felt called to missionary aviation.” Andrew and Rebecca committed to serving God through mission aviation with an interest in serving in Haiti. Andrew and Rebecca were overjoyed to become parents to their daughter, Rilee, in April 2017.

Classmates were struck by Andrew’s hard work and his love for others and for God. A fellow student said, “Trout was always here first.” He would arrive at school in the early hours of the morning so he could study and then be home with Rebecca and their daughter, Rilee, in the evenings.” Another former classmate and friend to Andrew and Rebecca, said, “Even when he was studying at home, he would have Rilee on his lap.”

The Trouten family.

Andrew loved building things, a friend fondly remembers, such as homemade guitars as well as a rocking horse for his daughter. Over his Christmas break, Andrew built a crib for his daughter that one of his friends jokingly said was so big it looked like a tank. When it wouldn’t fit past the door frame, Andrew just widened the door.

“Trout was amazing,” one of his friends said. “I don’t think there was a single person who he didn’t know by name. He was always willing to help. If there was anything that needed to be done, he would be there. Trout had a sincerity about his faith because of everything he had been through. He was really intent on serving God.”

Diego Senn was a flight instructor at Moody Aviation, as well as a Moody Bible Institute graduate.

Born in 1987, Diego grew up in the Amazon jungle where his parents served as missionaries. In a recent newsletter to friends and supporters, he explained how those experiences impacted his life, “As a kid, growing up in the Amazon felt normal. It was all I knew,” Diego recalled. “We lived in a thatch-roofed house with no running water or toilet. I had tribal friends and spent my days fishing, hunting, and swimming. It was only as I got older that I began to realize that my ‘normal’ life involved sacrifices. My parents had left behind family, safety, comfort, financial security, and the familiar to bring the gospel where it had not been.”

At age 12, Diego left his family to attend a missionary boarding school. After high school, he moved to the United States, attending Ethnos360 Bible Institute (formerly New Tribes Bible Institute) and then Moody Bible Institute where he met his wife, Naomi.

Naomi and Diego were married in 2010, and welcomed their first child, Lionel, two years later. Shortly afterward they moved to Spokane so Diego could attend Moody Aviation and earn his pilot’s license. Their hearts were set on missionary service, but the premature birth of their “miracle” twins, Malachi and Ellanie, delayed that plan.

Despite the pressures of school and time spent visiting his babies in the hospital, Diego graduated at the top of his class. Friends, colleagues and instructors agree that Diego did everything with excellence.

The couple made the decision to remain stateside until their twins were stronger. That meant Diego could serve at Moody Aviation, this time as a flight instructor. In their June 2018 newsletter, Diego shared, “We are excited to announce that we have committed to continue as missionaries with Proclaim Aviation, working at Moody Aviation for another four years. It’s been an incredible experience being a part of training future missionary pilots.” Students said they deeply appreciated having an instructor like Diego who had also been a Moody student and understood the rigors of the program.

A fellow instructor at Moody Aviation said, “I had the privilege of having Diego both as a student and co-laborer for the past six years. Diego saw mission aviation at work growing up and had a single-minded focus on seeing Christ magnified among the nations.” He continued, “He was a man of quiet intensity, doing everything with excellence and precision. He had a God-given ability to fly and maintain aircraft.” Diego and Naomi were also overjoyed when they learned they would have a baby girl, due in December 2018.

The Senn family.

Diego’s greatest desire was that others would know Jesus as he did. One of Diego’s favorite Bible passages was Hebrews 12:1–2: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

He is remembered by those who loved him for his tireless dedication to his Lord and Savior, his family, and the missionary pilots he trained. Friends and family say he told amazing stories, and his laugh and smile lit up every room. Diego was a faithful friend and unreserved family man. He was passionate about his calling as a missionary pilot and poured into many students’ lives, not only as an instructor but also as a mentor, encourager, and friend.

Closing his June newsletter, Diego wrote, “Following Jesus always involves sacrifice, but it’s so worth it, isn’t it? In Him, we find our value and the meaning to life.”

“As we follow Jesus, may the lives of Andrew, Diego and Joochan serve as examples to each of us how to run well and finish strong,” said interim president Greg Thornton. “As the hymn says, ‘When we all get to Heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be!’ Until we see them face to face and rejoice together before the throne, we will continue doing what they trained to do and did—bring the gospel to the remotest parts of the earth.”

Supporting the Families: If you would like to shower the love of Christ upon the families in a tangible way, the following GoFundMe web pages have been set up by friends and loved ones to support them. If you have questions before giving, please reach out to the administrator of that page.                                                        

Please note that as a 501(c)(3) organization Moody Bible Institute is not able to accept donations on behalf of the families but does encourage you to give directly to them as the Lord leads you.


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