For the Strength of Youth
A Pilot in the Lord’s Army
January 2024

“A Pilot in the Lord’s Army,” For the Strength of Youth, Jan. 2024.

A Pilot in the Lord’s Army

Lamar F. from the East Midlands of England has big goals that keep him flying high, even when things get rough.


Photographs provided by Satomi Folkett

“I’ve wanted to fly airplanes for as long as I can remember,” 17-year-old Lamar F. says. When a friend from his wheelchair racing days told him about a British charity that helps people with disabilities learn to fly, Lamar was eager to try.

Sky-High Dreams

He signed up for two of the charity’s programs. One of them, the Junior Aspiring Pilots Program (JAPP), was created especially for youth between the ages of 12 and 18. These programs and other solo lessons are all propelling him one step closer to his big goal—getting his Private Pilot License.

Part of his inspiration comes from his family. Lamar’s foster dad was the first person to get him hooked on flight, taking him to airshows every year. Later, after he was adopted by another family at age four, Lamar’s interest in aviation continued to thrive as he watched his adoptive father pursue a pilot’s license. “He’s my inspiration for wanting to be a pilot,” Lamar says. Now Lamar’s dad can ride with him in the single-propeller, five-seater airplanes Lamar is learning to fly.


Lamar’s parents (pictured here on either side of him) are some of his biggest supports.

young man by airplane

On Lamar’s first flight in a real aircraft, he was feeling nervous about remembering everything. “I said a quick, silent prayer before I went up, and I was fine,” he says. Now when he struggles to remember something in the air, those small, silent prayers help him do what he needs to do. Even when his dad isn’t in the back seat, Lamar knows he always has his Father in Heaven with him.

young man in airplane

The Lord’s Army

Flying isn’t the only thing that keeps Lamar’s spirits soaring. “I’ve always been a big fan of the British military, everything from a royal coronation to a funeral,” he says.

young man with statues of soldiers
young man polishing shoe

“Because of my disabilities, I can’t join the military myself,” Lamar says. But one of his former Young Men leaders who used to be a soldier has encouraged Lamar. “He’s always reminded me that I don’t have to be in a worldly military because I’m already in the Lord’s army,” Lamar says. “Being in the Lord’s army makes me feel that no matter what life throws at me, no matter what anyone does to me, I have Jesus Christ on my side.”

young man with man

Brother Bayliss, Lamar’s Young Men leader, inspired him to join “The Lord’s Army.”

At the special-needs college he attends, Lamar tries to help other people his age join the Lord’s army as he shares the gospel with them. “A lot of the time, I get ignored,” he says, “but some of the time, I get interest. Because of some of my needs at the moment, serving a full-time mission soon is not an option. But I see it like this: I don’t need a name tag to be a missionary.”

With so few youth in his ward, most of Lamar’s friends aren’t members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That isn’t always easy at school, especially when there are, as Lamar puts it, “absolute loads” of temptations. “There’re lots of students talking about inappropriate stuff and listening to inappropriate music. Basically, whenever something like that happens, I just leave and go to a room where that isn’t going on.”’

young man with flag

Stay Strong

When temptations come or others aren’t interested in hearing about the gospel, Lamar holds his favorite scripture high: “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

“This scripture has helped me stay strong in the faith of Jesus Christ,” he says. This is especially important to Lamar in his own family. When Lamar was 10, his father stopped coming to church. “I was younger then, so I didn’t fully understand,” he says. “I tried to convince him to come back. But I’ve learned it’s not about that. You give them time.”

Lamar still has a close relationship with his dad and shows him love in everyday ways, like telling him what happened at church or spending time with him. “He’s always taught me that no matter what you go through, you’ve got to stay strong.” To any youth with family members who aren’t active in the Church, he adds, “Stay strong. Hold on to your faith. Don’t give up, no matter what.”

Jesus Christ

Seeking Christ When Things Get Rough

Lamar has also found courage in Christ in other personal ways. “I suffer with quite bad anxiety sometimes,” Lamar says. “I guess the ultimate person to give me courage to carry on is Jesus Christ Himself. He went through so much, yet He carried on with His mission.”

When Lamar is having a particularly bad day, he often imagines the Savior encouraging him, saying, “You can do this. You can get through anything.”

He also draws strength from his mom and dad, his friends, and other people who are close to him. “There was a time where I kind of got led down the wrong path,” Lamar says. But thanks to a good support system, he was able to adjust his course and strengthen his testimony of Christ.

“I’m still developing my testimony,” he says, “but it’s wonderful to be part of the Lord’s army and in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It’s something that I love.”

His journey may have ups and downs, but Lamar knows what keeps him flying high. “No matter what trials or problems you go through, Heavenly Father will be by your side because He cares about you and loves you.”