Eternal Significance

Decades of service left a lasting impact for one MAF pilot and the people he flew

By Gene Jordan


Gene Jordan, MAF’s public relations ambassador. Photo by Lem Malabuyo.

My parents went to Ecuador as missionaries in 1951. As a kid I heard about the “MAF airplane, flown by Uncle Nate, in the jungle.” When I was three years old, I got to fly in his little yellow plane, which would one day be the most famous missionary airplane. His story, and that of the other four missionaries martyred in the jungle in 1956, was very familiar to me; it helped shape my life.

Gene Jordan with Nate Saint in 1954. Photo courtesy of Gene Jordan.

Throughout my high school years, I jumped at every opportunity to catch a bus from the Ecuadorian highlands down to the jungle where MAF operated. At the hangar, I weighed loads and fueled the airplanes. I washed mud off the planes at the end of the day and helped prepare for the next day’s flights, all with the hope of getting a ride in an MAF Cessna.

That hope was fulfilled! I flew with MAF pilots Dave, Glen, and Olie. I watched how they used their aviation skills to help people deep in the Amazon rainforest. I observed their tender care for the wounded and sick as they transported them to the mission hospital. I witnessed the pivotal role MAF played in knitting together different mission organizations, each with its unique ministries, working with different language groups in dozens of small, isolated, jungle communities. The common aim of each of these ministries was to introduce precious jungle people to their loving Creator. I decided to pursue a vocation with eternal significance: missionary aviation.

I joined MAF in 1977, after flight and maintenance training, and was assigned to . . . Ecuador! For the next 22 years I flew the jungle skies as pilot-in-command, where previously I had been a passenger.  Those early MAF pilots were my models as I learned to appreciate what it meant to serve God through aviation.

I flew hundreds of flights for missionaries. Fresh vegetables, diesel fuel, medicine, and mail from home were all delivered by MAF planes to jungle stations. With a missionary hospital near the MAF hangar, I flew more medical emergency flights than I can remember. Community development flights meant clean water and rustic elementary schools. Baby chicks, the occasional live calf or a kerosene refrigerator were not unusual cargo. Jungle school kids who memorized Scripture verses were rewarded with a flight out to a week of camp, where they learned more about God and how He loved them. I flew the “JESUS” film to dozens of villages where, for the first time in their own language, people saw the gospel story.  Passengers who previously worshipped evil spirits were now indigenous community church leaders.   MAF would pick them up from their villages and fly them to a more central community to experience Bible training with other leaders. The MAF airplane was the linchpin of jungle ministry!

MAF pilot Gene Jordan with Anita, an exceptional passenger. Photo courtesy of Gene Jordan.

On a recent trip to Shell, Ecuador, a young woman approached me. “I used to fly with you when I was in the sixth grade. You made the airplane go down very quickly. I remember screaming with excitement! I watched you fly the sick people from my village to the hospital, and I decided that I, too, wanted to help them through medicine. Now I run the first aid clinic in my community. Do you want to see it?”

Her pride was obvious, but my gratitude was greater, because I knew that her story has been replicated in other remote villages, not only in Ecuador, but in many other countries where MAF serves.

Today the MAF hangar in Shell includes members of the Shuar and Achuar tribes. The director is a young man who attended my wife, Lynn’s, Good News Club as a kid. MAF continues to serve in the eastern jungles of Ecuador, where there are established church communities among the Shuar, Quichua, Achuar, and Waodani people. Those who once lived in spiritual darkness now have the Bible in their own language. Young people who flew with MAF as children are now Kingdom leaders in their churches, schools, and health clinics, and as an MAF pilot, I had the privilege of being a part of this transformation.

Even in our digital-fast world, MAF planes continue to be tools that facilitate and accelerate the care of physical and spiritual needs of people isolated by jungles or mountains throughout the world. While I’m most proud of my little corner of the Ecuadorian Amazon, I recognize that none of this would have been possible without the many of you who stand behind MAF with your gifts and prayers.

One day “a crowd from every tribe, tongue and nation” will sing together that “salvation comes from God, and the Lamb.” That’s why MAF does what it does!


Story appeared in the May 2020 FlightWatch, a special 75th anniversary issue:


  • Brian says:

    Well done, Gene! Your diligent service to the Lord is remarkable. May we all serve with such persistence and joy.

  • Alton Harrison says:

    To Gene, a devoted servant who walked glorious for years with God. Mission flying must of been WOW, WOW!

  • Jan says:

    God bless you and your family. Thank you for faithful service and ministry.

  • I am one of hundreds of grateful recipients of your amazing understanding and commitment.
    Scotland is a place you must visit – oh MAF is here too!
    Blessings always.

  • Perry Pust says:

    Gene, what an awesome legacy and accomplishment! So grateful for not only your service but also for your able and effective help to mentor and care for so many other MAFers. Enjoy your transition to retirement!! Welcome to the club.

  • Judy Schneider Arvidson says:

    Gene, how great to read about your ministry. My mother (Dorothy Stam Schneider) was a cousin of your mom, so that makes us 2nd cousins. My parents were missionaries in rural Alaska in the 1950’s and 60’s, and on our wall as I grew up were photos of many missionaries in the family, including Gene & Ruth, and you and your sister. We prayed for you.

    My husband and I were able to have a nice visit with your mom in MN some years ago, as my dad’s second wife, Helen Lewis Schneider, was a friend of your mother. All those dear folks are in heaven now. Enjoy your retirement and may God bless you & yours!

  • Don Anderson says:

    Thank you Gene and Lynn! Thank you for following God’s direction and being faithful in your service. My son & I had the privilege of visiting MAF and Nate
    Saint’s homemade in Shell in about 2006. We were working with the local orphanage. I was moved by the Christian heritage represented there. I have fond memories of my visit to Shell and to MAF. Thanks again for sharing Christ via MAF. Now enjoy your retirement!

  • Dave Schlener says:

    Thank you Gene for being such a faithful and talented servant. You have been a positive role model for decades!

  • Kazuko McColley says:

    To Gene:
    Thank you for your many year’s dedication as a pirot for MAF.
    I have been attending to Des Moines Gospel Chapel in Des Moines, Washington. Dr. Jay McCully had been attending to our church (he and his wife passed away last year), he is the brother of McCully who was murdered inEcuador.

  • Rich Bukee says:

    Thank you for faithfully serving the Lord on this leg of your journey. May God continue to bless you with seeing His wondrous works in your future service.

  • Sue Kort says:

    Thank you, Gene, for using your love of flying to share the love of Jesus with so many others in Ecuador.

  • Mary Kay Sapp says:

    We praise God for your ministry. May God continue to bless you and make you a blessing.

  • Gil S says:

    Gene, While I only got to meet you at the end of your service career with MAF , I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to meet you. I will forever remember you and what you continually teach me about the love of Jesus , people and MAF . Thank you . You make a difference in my life

  • Stephen Travis says:

    Great is your reward in Heaven, Gene!

  • Jim Allen. says:

    Gene, So many memories. Thanks so much for your faithfulness and your friendship. It was a privilege to spend many hours with you in the air and on the ground. May God continue to bless you in these retirement years.

  • Sharon Crowley says:

    Thank you for your willingness to serve people with the love of Christ. May God continue to give you other opportunities to bring Glory to Him!

  • Daniel McGinty says:

    Praising our Lord for your many years of service and safe flying. I’m a pilot too. Began in 1977 and earned the Private lic in 78. I was blessed to teach at the school of missionary aviation in El Cajon CA where Dave Ringenberg was one of my first students. I’ve read Through Gates of Splender and jungle pilot. Wow what amazing stories of service to the Lord by people like you. If I don’t see you on one of my visits to MAF I’ll look you up in Heaven. Well done Gene I hope you write a book.

    His peace and joy


  • Bob Birkey says:

    Gene such a wonderful example of following Jesus where He leads you. May you experience God’s Blessings in your retirement from MAF. Asking our Good Shepherd to give you many years of Blessings as you continue to follow Him.

  • Stan Derksen says:

    Well done, Gene! Thanks for taking our kids to school (although Irene almost had a heart attack when you buzzed the airstrip with our kids on board). I thought it was pretty cool. May God continue to bless you in retirement.

  • Ron & Anne DeVries says:

    Dear Gene (& Lynn)
    We thank the LORD for our paths crossing down here (even Sun n Fun, right?) and we’ll sing with you up there!! Thanks too for being there for Bruce & Wendy! Love y’all, Bro.
    Keep on keeping on for Jesus!
    Ron & Anne DeVries

  • Mark McLean says:

    Well done, faithful servant! Impressive and heart-warming story — thanks for all you’ve done! Hope to see you around the PNW

  • Julie LaQuey says:

    Thank you, Gene, for your years of faithful service and being an example of the joy that accompanies obedience to God’s call! My husband and I met you at a President’s Summit, and you were so kind to share one of your books with us. Thank you for continuing to pour into so many people like our family. We thank God for you!

  • Marie Rascoe says:

    What a blessing to read of your faithful service to our Lord. You are the real heroes of the faith. Praise God for your willing heart to be used by God and and make a difference in kingdom work here on this earth. Blessings to you and your wife in your retirement.

  • Robert Hanover says:

    Thank you for being so kind and understanding. You were a great blessing to me. You asked me to stop by when we had returned in 2021 and I was not able to make that happen. Sorry! Also, if you are ever in New England and near Bradley Airport I would love to treat you out for some good New England pizza!
    -Rob Hanover

  • Imbi Dawa says:



  • Alessandro Dondoli says:

    Dear Gene, my congratulations from Italy for your many years of commitment spent for the well-being of the poorest and most isolated peoples in the world through the work of the MAF

  • Richard Downeyeaglerock81252 says:

    Thanks Gene, I really appreciate your history with MAF. Back in the early 90’s Max Myers, who was the director at that time helped my wife Jan and I learn of and go fly with Air Serv Internationsal in Mozambique Africa. This being an organization created by MAF in the 80’s.

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