Ministry Spotlight: Juan Carlos and Johanna Portillo

The Portillo family.

For over 20 years, Juan Carlos and Johanna Portillo have served with MAF as a pilot mechanic family in three MAF affiliates—organizations that were founded by MAF but now are operated by local people. They began their ministry in 1998, working as national staff with MAF affiliate AGAPE in Guatemala. They later joined MAF-US in 2007 and served with Alas de Socorro (Wings of Help) in Mexico, and MAF Suriname.

In 2018, the family returned to Guatemala, where they are currently stationed. Juan Carlos, who serves as director of maintenance in Guatemala, will soon take on the role of financial advisor to all five of MAF’s Latin America affiliates and hopes to create greater unity among them.

“I’m excited to be able to continue building the Guatemala program in regard to safety culture and strategic planning, to build upon their already strong connections with the communities as they use the flight service and Bible training programs to edify the church,” Juan Carlos shared. “I am excited to stay connected with the affiliates and share about the strengths each one has so that all can benefit and grow.  My desire is that they can feel connected to each other and to MAF, and we can all work as the body of Christ for the body of Christ.”

The Portillos are also entering a new stage of life as empty nesters now that their three children, Rebekah, Benjamin, and Hannah have launched into the adult world. They are looking forward to this season of new opportunities for service in Guatemala.

Juan Carlos is from Monterrey, Mexico, and accepted Christ at age 6. After reading the book Jungle Pilot as a child, he felt God calling him to be a missionary pilot like Nate Saint. He completed theological training and pilot and mechanics courses in Guatemala and the U.S.

Johanna was born in Guatemala and immigrated to the U.S. with her family at age 7. When she was 20 she dedicated her life fully to Christ. She and Juan Carlos met at church in Los Angeles, and together committed to serving the Lord through missions.

During their time in Guatemala, Johanna has worked with a local orphanage and with their church’s ministry to families who live by their city’s landfill. Johanna said she has been asked by the MAF staff to teach them English, and to that end she is pursuing a certification in Teaching English as a Second Language.

The Portillos are looking for financial and prayer partners to join their team. “It would be such an awesome blessing to receive new donors,” Johanna said. “This is where God wants us still. This is where we are by his provision, because that is what God has been doing throughout our 23 years of service.”

Juan Carlos added, “It would be an encouragement for us to know that people see value in what we’re doing and they’re willing to partner with us.”

Would you consider supporting the Portillos as they seek to see lives changed by the love of Christ, in Guatemala and throughout Latin America? Learn more at


A shorter version of this story appeared in the fall 2021 edition of FlightWatch. Read the entire issue here:

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