FLIGHT PATH: A Biography of Frank Barker Jr [Book Review]

Flight Path

This is a book review of, Flight Path by Janie Buck and Mary Lou Davis.  Flight Path is the page-turning biography of Frank Barker, Jr.  This is a book of incredible adventures! It is hard to fathom how close Frank came to death many times only to be rescued by God for a greater mission in life.

The first chapter opens with a hair-raising experience on an aircraft carrier, “In a panic I jammed the throttle up. Too late! I shot off the deck and dropped like lead…My life flashed before my eyes.” [1] Frank had many “Top Gun” fighter pilot experiences!  It seemed with every close collision with death, Frank would question if God was trying to get his attention. On one such occasion, he was driving back to base, very late at night after hours of drinking a lot and raising Cain. He fell asleep at the wheel of his car but managed to wake up in time to slam on brakes, coming to a stop in a ditch.  As the dust began to settle, he looked up and saw a sign that his headlights were shining on. In large black letters was written: “The wages of sin is death.”  He marked this event as a “star” from God to get his attention. Like the Wise Men who were guided by a star to the place where Jesus was born, there were several “stars” that guided his life. [2]

The book flowed at a fast pace with humor when speaking of his reckless lifestyle, while most chapters will make you ponder and consider the “stars” in your own life that represent a reminder of God’s precise grace and action at the perfect time.  With Frank, some of those “stars” just caused him to try harder to be a better person…he did not know about grace being a free gift of God.

The authors wrote the book as if Frank were telling his own story, which made reading the book even more enjoyable and enthralling.  During the military career, Frank had the nagging thought that he should go to seminary so that his life would be more pleasing to God. While in seminary, he discovered the incredible good news of Jesus Christ. The book is filled with innumerable lessons in life.

There was the humble beginning of Briarwood Presbyterian Church, PCA meeting in a store-front, and is now a mega-church in Birmingham, AL. It is worth mentioning that Frank Barker was one of the “fathers” of the PCA (Presbyterian Church in America). Throughout the book, there are glimpses of a family learning to trust God for money to pay bills or learning to be thankful for cream of wheat for dinner when it was the only thing they could afford…because of their enormous generosity to give from their income.  You’ll read about his passion to reach the kids in the city and students on college campuses (He established Campus Outreach, a ministry to college students) and how God is faithful to answer prayers. When there was a need, Frank prayed and God provided.  I do not believe that anyone can read this exciting and moving story of lives lived for the kingdom of  God without becoming a better person through the experience. [3]

Flight Path is a fascinating read about a humble man broken to the will of God, chosen, called and guided each step of his way by our great God.  Frank Barker is an example to follow.


[1]  Page 14 | [2] Page 28 | [3] Page 10


A few months ago, my husband and I had the wonderful privilege of hearing Dr. Frank Barker share his life story to a group of college students who are involved with Campus Outreach, in Indianapolis, IN.  Frank Barker is the founder of Campus Outreach, which had its very humble beginning at Briarwood Presbyterian Church. So It was very thrilling for all of us to hear him retell some of those very funny yet scary hair-raising experiences but most importantly, to hear him tell of God’s grace rescuing him over and over again.

A note about Campus Outreach:

Each Campus Outreach region sits under the authority and supervision of a regional church. Campus Outreach partners with numerous denominations that are healthy, Bible believing, evangelical, Gospel preaching, and reformed in their doctrine. These Regional Churches provide a crucial source of accountability, leadership and a substantial percentage of the resources for the region’s effective existence.

Campus Outreach is not a para-church organization, but rather an extension of the church on the college campus. As a result, the ministry at each campus is connected to a local church near that campus. This provides our Campus Staff and students the opportunity to partner with that church by bringing non-Believers and Believers alike to sit under the teaching of scripture. It also provides connection with the larger body of Christ and instills value for belonging and partaking of the Body of Christ.

My husband and I are grateful for the opportunities we’ve had to meet Campus Outreach Staff and college students while living in Jacksonville, FL, Charlotte, NC, and Indianapolis, IN.



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