The Things We Leave Behind

A glimpse at how you help MAF staff leave a lasting legacy


Garth Pederson, a long-time pilot with MAF, handed the keys to his motorcycle over to Dan Grings, who serves in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Dan, a third-generation missionary, plans to use the bike to return to the place he was born in the northern part of the country, and go from village to village to encourage his remote church plants and do evangelism.

Garth won’t need the bike anymore since he and his wife, Jody, will now be serving stateside with MAF.

Jody passed along her keyboard to a Congolese man who leads a church in an isolated region of the DRC. The portable, battery-operated keyboard that Jody once used to teach music lessons, now allows Pastor David to lead his congregation and others in the area in singing praises to the Lord.

Jody teaching band at the American School of Kinshasa.

The Pedersons are leaving a motorcycle and a keyboard in the DRC—but like many MAF missionaries, they are leaving behind much more than that.

The impact MAF staff have is not always obvious, but the Pedersons got a glimpse of how God wove together their lives and others for His glory.

Fruitful words
Many weekends, Leta Kupa, a Congolese MAF chaplain, travels to towns and villages around the DRC’s capital city of Kinshasa. When he arrives, he sets up a projector and a makeshift screen and shows the “JESUS” film—a movie that tells the story of Christ. Hundreds of Congolese people have given their lives to Christ over the years, because of the work Leta is doing. Work that he could not do without a projector.

Years ago, Leta wanted to start showing the “JESUS” film in the Kinshasa area. Jody and Leta knew each other from Nyankunde, where she and Garth first served with MAF over 20 years ago. So she spoke to the MAF program manager at the time to relay Leta’s excellent work in Nyankunde with the film. Because of her recommendation, the program manager purchased the projector equipment Leta needed.

Leta Kupa in western DRC, setting up for a showing of the ‘JESUS’ film. Photos by Mark and Kelly Hewes.

“I never knew you were aware of what I was doing [in Nyankunde],” Leta told Jody in a parting note. “Thank you for your watching eyes.”

“He said he appreciated how I was supportive of his ministry,” said Jody. “I had totally forgotten about it, it was so long ago. It was fun to hear how he appreciated that and remembered.”

Unexpected gratitude
Dieu Donné, a Congolese MAF staff member, read Galatians 6:10 in the MAF hangar in Nyankunde one morning last January. He gave a testimony related to the terrible massacre that happened there in 2002.

Dieu shared how he and other MAF staff and hospital workers had managed to escape the violence and fled on foot through the forest.

They walked for several days until they reached a mission hospital about 60 miles to the south. Dr. Bill Clemmer, a missionary based there, learned of their situation and chartered the MAF Caravan from Kinshasa to try and help them. The pilot flew the airplane to Uganda to purchase supplies for the refugees—bales of used clothing, blankets, machetes, hoes and shovels for gardening, tarps for shelters.

Dieu recalled that Garth was the one who brought the items to them.

Top left: Garth and Dieu. Top right: Garth visiting with Nyankunde refugee children in 2002. Bottom: Garth after offloading materials for the Nyankunde refugees in 2002. Right and bottom photo by Dr. Bill Clemmer.

“I don’t even remember seeing him during that busy visit,” said Garth, who just happened to be there to hear Dieu speak that morning. “Hearing him express his gratitude for that aid created an emotional moment for me as those memories flooded back into my mind.”

Today, Dieu remains a vital team member in Nyankunde, helping with building projects, airplane maintenance, and cleaning and upkeep of the hangar and airport grounds.

Parting Blessings
At the Pederson’s going-away party with their Kinshasa teammates, Kahindo Mbodwam, the wife of a new MAF pilot, shared how she and her husband were encouraged by reading the Pedersons’ prayer letters. Through them the Pedersons had painted a beautiful picture of the impact of MAF’s ministry, which motivated the Mbodwams during their long support-raising period to keep pursuing their goal of joining MAF.

The Pederson’s Kinshasa church family prays over them before they depart. Photo by Jocelyn Frey.

In what seems like a natural next step, Garth and Jody are now mobilizers with MAF. They’ll continue to impact a new generation of MAF pilot/mechanics and IT specialists and their families who are preparing for service.

The Pedersons no longer own a motorcycle or a keyboard, but they do have the knowledge that what they left behind in the DRC is even more valuable. Because of the support of people like you, MAF staff around the world are leaving legacies which extend further than they could ever imagine.


Special thanks to Jaclyn Reierson in west DRC for her help with this story.

1 Comment

  • Denise says:

    What an awesome story and an encouragement to each of us, whether we are on the field, or just someone doing their daily tasks. I guess we may never know just how many lives we touch just by doing everyday, ordinary things for others. Thank you for that reminder! And Pedersons, may you touch many lives as mobilizers. I’m sure your experience on the field will help others on their way to the mission field.

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