Agape Flights was founded by Keith and Clara Starkey on October 24, 1980. In the words of Clara Starkey, “God laid it on our hearts to buy an aircraft to fly supplies into Haiti.” They chose the Greek word for love, AGAPE (the unconditional love He has for each of us) to describe their mission and their ministry.
On November 15, 1980, Agape’s inaugural flight left the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, bound for Cap Haitien, Haiti. The small Cessna 411 was loaded with donated emergency supplies and mail for about 25 missionary families.
Today, Agape Flights serves as a lifeline from family, friends, and supporters to more than 300 missionary families in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas.
Faith radiates from these pictures and hearts. Not the faith that just says, “Yes, I believe,” but the kind of faith that leads to action. The kind of faith that moves two retired farmers from Ohio to Bradenton, Florida, nudges them to mortgage their home to buy an aircraft (which they didn’t know how to fly or maintain by the way), and begin flying supplies and mail to missionaries in Haiti. Keith and Clara Starkey founded Agape Flights on radical faith and love, and today, 40 years later, their legacy of love and faith flies on week after week, serving 300 missionary affiliates throughout Haiti, the Bahamas, and the Dominican Republic…impacting millions.
It all started with love…
A love of God. A love of people. A love to serve. Keith and Clara saw firsthand the transformative power of the love and care of Christ as they worked alongside missionaries in Haiti. That is why they stepped out in faith, bought an aircraft, turned their home into a mail and cargo center and chose the name “Agape” (God’s unconditional love) for this Christian aviation ministry.
He brought, and continues to bring, the perfect people, planes, pilots, prayers, and provisions into place at just the right times.
“Well done good and faithful servant…” was the title to a letter that John and Joyce Hanson, long time Agape missionary affiliates in Haiti, wrote to Keith and Clara many years ago that helps describe their faithfulness….
“We here at International Missions Outreach are very thankful for the day that you all answered the call God put on your lives to be a vital support system to the missionaries here in Haiti. You took this on, I am sure, like most of the folks God uses, not knowing the full extent of your ministry. But you have been faithful to our Lord.
The ministry you accepted wasn’t easy and certainly wasn’t one that put you in the limelight. There have been times when you would work long into the night to get that next plane out, and, yes, the house and garage were full of items for Haiti. Many times I know that you have been misunderstood when you have done your best to assist us here. You could have fought back, but instead, you just tried harder. When hard times came, you stood tall and reacted with dignity and respect.
You have wept with those who have wept, and comforted those who needed comfort. You have shown something that is so hard to find in this day: commitment. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. I would like to be standing close when the Lord says to you, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” We can say, as many others you have been faithful to your calling.
As Keith and Clara Starkey entered into the arms of Jesus on April 23, 2014 and February 6, 2020 (respectively) we can only imagine their heavenly homecoming. Certainly, they heard “Well done thou good and faithful servant” as they were being introduced to people who are there because they were faithful.
As we fly through our 40th year and beyond may we together follow in the footsteps of our founders by...
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Through Christ, His people and aircraft, Agape Flights delivers love and hope, changing lives one flight at a time.