The Erickson family in Zambia/Courtesy Chitokoloki Mission Hospital

The Erickson family in Zambia/Courtesy Chitokoloki Mission Hospital

Jay and Katrina Erickson didn’t move to Africa and within four months change the world by gallantly giving their lives.

They changed lives, Lance Erickson (Jay’s younger brother) said, because they lived out God’s greatest commandments — they loved the Lord with all their hearts and truly loved their neighbors as themselves (Matt. 22: 37-39).

At a memorial service held Sunday at Hillyard Baptist Church Lance said Jay, 26, and Katrina, 26, were regular people with regular problems and flaws, but together were able to follow God’s call.

Their death made global headlines recently when the aircraft Jay was piloting in Zambia crashed into the Zambezi River. They had been serving as missionaries there since February and leave behind two young daughters, Marina, 3 and Coral, 1.

Jay, a 2010 graduate of Moody Aviation in Spokane, flew 115 hours in his three months in Zambia where he was serving as a pilot for Chitokoloki Mission Hospital.

“We were sorting through their things yesterday, but they didn’t have anything,” Lance said. “Their priorities didn’t lie in accumulating a house full of things…Their sacrifice was in choosing to follow God. They truly believed man exists for God’s glory.”

The couple was buried on June 9 in Zambia. It was declared a national day of mourning in their honor and all flags were flown at half-staff that day. The Erickson family has a long history of missionary work in Africa and six other family members have been buried there.

“God is going to use (their death) in marvelous ways. For the president to order flags at half-staff, that’s very special. God got the glory,” said Gordon Bockey, who served as a missionary pilot in Africa for more than 20 years, and was a colleague of Jay’s.

Ron Ulmer, pastor of Hillyard Baptist, reminded those who gathered to mourn the Erickson’s that “no one knows how long we’ll run…we’re just told to run with perseverance and endurance.”

“We’re still running,” he said. “But they’re now in that great crowd of witnessed cheering us on.”

The Erickson’s daughters recently returned from Spokane and will be raised by Jay’s family. Donations to help support them can be sent to The Jay and Katrina Erickson Memorial Fund, c/o Stewart Title, 606 W. 3rd Ave, Spokane, WA 99201.

Jay & Katrina – Funeral from Chitokoloki on Vimeo.

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