Denton going from athletics to aviation

By Matt Hill
STAR STAFF
mhill@starhq.com

   For the last several seasons, recent Cloudland High School graduate Caleb Denton has performed at a high level on the baseball field and the basketball court.
   Now that he's graduated from high school, he wants to fly airplanes so he can tell people around the world about a higher power.
   That trek will start for Denton this fall when he attends Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. After a couple of years there, Denton will come back to Carter County to attend Moody Aviation to learn how to be a missionary pilot.
   Denton felt he was receiving a call to missions in high school. A mission trip out of the country gave him the thought of be a missionary for life.
   "I guess the first call to missions was on a mission trip to St. Croix," Denton said. "It helped me to see how God needs missionaries."
   Denton is already gearing up to go out on the mission field. He was accepted into an aviation program this summer.
   Denton has been practicing at the Elizabethton Airport, where Moody Aviation is located.
   Denton is enjoying the experience, and already has a good amount of time in.
   "I fly for two hours on Monday and two hours on Tuesday," Denton said. "I have a total of 28 hours in right now. I just started this summer, as they just opened up the aviation program."
   A lot of Moody students go to Moody Bible Institute in Chicago for four years, but the aviation students go to the Chicago campus for two years, then go to the aviation school for three years.
   Denton knows he's in for a challenge, because the aviation school requires extensive training.
   "The training is so hard," Denton said. "The instructors tell a lot of the students that they're just not cutting it, and tell them to leave."
   Denton seems determined to make it through the training, and he also knows the risks involved.
   As we know, flying an airplane is very dangerous. People who fly are definitely risking their lives every time.
   But that doesn't bother Denton. Denton is strong in his faith, and believes there's a better place after this life for Christians.
   "There comes a time when you have to die," Denton said. "It's part of God's plan. If I do die, I'm assured of going to a better place."
   Denton feels called into missions, and he's not going to let the risks involved interfere with that call.
   "I'm answering His call," Denton said. "To deny what He has called me to do is to turn against God. I have to answer the call."
   Denton is very sincere in his faith. With all the tales about teenagers these days on drugs or in trouble with law, Denton has kept his eyes on God to guide him through the teenage years.
   Denton cherishes his relationship with God.
   "My relationship with God has to be closer than the relationship with my own family, as much as I love them," Denton said. "It's a relationship that I can't live without. If I didn't believe in Him, I wouldn't be flying to another country."
   Denton stood out on the athletic fields at Cloudland, but he kept sporting events in perspective.
   After Cloudland's Region I-A basketball semifinal loss to Hancock County that ended Denton's basketball career, a reporter asked Denton about the defeat.
   Denton said it was a horrible feeling, but it wasn't as bad as the feeling of not being a Christian.
   Denton wants people to know that basketball and other sports are just games, and that we have to keep our eyes on God.
   "A lot of people see me as just playing ball," Denton said. "That is just something we have for here on earth. It means nothing to me. The guys were saying after that game that was the worst feeling of their life. If they knew there's a chance at Hell, it wouldn't be the worst feeling. I want people to know that it's just a game, and that it is really nothing compared to eternal life."
   With athletes for the most part being the most recognizable students at high schools, Denton admitted that it gave him an opportunity to minister to other students.
   "Younger kids look up to the older guys that play sports," Denton said. "Being a Christian is the best example you can set."
   Denton's favorite Bible verse is Matthew 28:19, which says "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father, and of the son, and of the Holy Ghost."
   Denton doesn't know exactly where he will be called to, but he's ready to answer the call to missions when it comes.
   "I'll go wherever God calls," Denton said.