Your support makes it possible for new airstrips to allow Christ’s love to be shared.
Sometimes change happens gradually. Bible translations take years. Breaking the stronghold of spiritual oppression can take generations.
But there are times when transformation can be seen immediately.
Such is the case when an MAF airplane is finally able to touch down on a new airstrip.
One day a village is totally cut off from the outside world—the next, medical care, education, Bibles, and the hope of the Gospel are within reach.
Around the world, MAF works with partners and isolated people to open and maintain airstrips so that transformation can happen in remote places.
Here are just a few of the many new airstrips being completed.
Itende, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
When the Folmers, a Dutch couple, both doctors, along with their children, moved from Nyankunde to the village of Itende to serve at a mission hospital, they needed a way for MAF to reach them—to receive supplies, medevac flights, and an evacuation option for the family in case of tribal fighting.
Itende’s existing airstrip contained buried mines from wars that had ravaged the region. The only thing to be done was to build a new airstrip.
The MAF team in eastern DRC arranged to get a new airstrip cut out of the forest. After much work the airstrip is nearing completion and soon MAF airplanes will be able to reach Itende and support the lifesaving work the Folmers are doing there.
Construction began on the Kwegono airstrip high in the mountains of Papua seven years ago.
“They had to basically flatten a ridge,” said Daniel Perez, an MAF pilot. “Which makes for spectacular views but tricky winds blow across it later on in the day.”
This airstrip is a 20-minute flight from the town of Wamena, crossing some of the most rugged terrain on the island with jagged peaks topping 14,000 feet.
“There has been significant persecution of the church in this area and we have been in conversation with one of the local church denominations who have expressed a great desire for ministry here,” said Daniel. “We are excited to be partnering with them to encourage these persecuted people.”
Daniel and Kees Janse, the MAF chief pilot in Papua, made the first landing at Kwegono, officially opening the airstrip in March of this year.
The trek into Micaune is rough. The only “road” is just open during the six-month dry season—but even then, making it to your destination is not guaranteed. Public transportation—a combination of boats, ferries, and 4×4 vehicles—is unreliable at best.
Bible translators expressed the need for a working airstrip there—which would open the doors for these missionaries and their families, both with young children, to move to this area knowing they could be evacuated in case of a medical emergency.
When MAF pilot Grady Nace accompanied one of the Bible translators to visit Micaune, he found that the only airstrip there was in poor shape.
“It was an old colonial airstrip that had been abandoned years before,” said Grady. “The regulo (local traditional leader) said he thinks it has been around 50 years since an airplane has landed there.”
The airstrip was overgrown with trees, bushes, and huge termite mounds, and had been rutted up by a large herd of cattle that grazed on it.
“We hired around 200 local people to clear the strip using only handheld tools—chopping down and digging out trees, excavating termite mounds,” said Grady. “All in all, the local people worked really hard and seemed to take ownership of the airstrip.”
This airstrip will allow MAF to support these missionaries and their Bible translation work that will be happening there, along with medical needs that might arise.
La Source, Haiti
Getting to the village of La Source (pronounced “La Suess”) was quite the journey from the capital city of Port-au-Prince before the airstrip was built—hours on the choppy seas, followed by hours on an ATV (or longer by a bigger vehicle.)
But that is about to change.
“We are so excited to report that First Baptist Church in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, partnered with the local people and have nearly completed construction on an airstrip in La Source,” said MAF pilot David Harms.
MAF will be able to deliver help in half an hour.
“The pastor we are working with said many in the community have not been able to visit a doctor for several years,” said Dave Simon, another MAF pilot in Haiti who surveyed the airstrip after traveling there via an ATV. “I am very hopeful for the potential of this airstrip.”
It’s not just MAF staff who are excited about reaching La Source—local pastors, World Vision, and the villagers themselves are so thankful for the new airstrip.
“As our pilot flew out to check the safety and conditions, lots of people came out and were jumping up and down with excitement,” said David Harms.
The team in Haiti is waiting for a few adjustments to be made on the airstrip and for final approval by the aviation authorities. They hope it will be operational by early 2019.
“I sense God’s heart for this community and am eager to watch Him work in ways only He can,” added Dave Simon.
These airstrips are just a handful of many around the world on which MAF airplanes touch down. They’re more than just a patch of grass or dirt carved out of a forest or mountainside. They become the doors of hope flung open as Christ’s love pours into these communities.
Without the support of people like you, these airstrips and MAF staff’s ability to land on them would not be possible. Your support of MAF is bringing immediate and lasting hope to isolated people around the world.
Update: We’re happy to report that the Itende airstrip is now open. La Source is also open now.
Story appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of FlightWatch: