A Teen, a Dream, and a Plane

How one boy brought a community together to reach isolated people

A teacher inspired her class to imagine what they could do to impact their world. A 15-year-old student dreamed big, and his family wholeheartedly supported that dream. And the end result was a unique two-day event to raise funds for an MAF Kodiak—a “tool” that will be used to spread the Gospel and help isolated people living in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. When the unusual request came in to the Aviation Resources department about a 9th grader wanting to bring an MAF Kodiak to his hometown so he could raise funds for the ministry, the response from instructor pilots Tim Imbrock and Brian Shepson was, “Wow, that’s pretty cool. We should do that.”

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William Decker, holding photo, with his dad, mom and sisters (right); Brian Shepson left, and Tim Imbrock, right.

They knew the young man was serious and would work to make it happen when MAF Event Coordinator Linda Walker called back a week later. She told the pilots that the young man had found sponsors and raised $1600 to cover the cost of getting the plane there and back; they knew then that it was a “go.”

For William Decker, a World Impact Project for his geography class at Horizon Christian School led him to look for a global mission that included aviation. William is a student pilot working towards his private pilot’s license, and he plans to attend an aviation college someday. A Google search brought up Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), and he and his family learned about the organization for the first time.

The May event involved two days of flights at two locations, the Dalles and Hood River airports in Oregon.

“It took a lot of communication with everybody,” said William, when asked what the key was to pulling off the event.

“The level of excitement and anticipation when we got there was fun to see,” said Tim Imbrock, one of the pilots for the event; the other was Brian Shepson.

About 150 people purchased rides over the two days, from young students all the way up to a grandma in her 90s. It was great exposure for MAF, thanks to the family’s many connections among the farming community, at the airport, and with local churches.

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Left to right: Tim Imbrock, William Decker, and Brian Shepson.

But this was not just a get-acquainted-with-MAF event and a chance to have a flight in a Kodiak airplane. William’s intention was for it to be a fundraiser, and it definitely was. Many of the riders gave donations above the cost of the ride. All told, the event brought in over $6,000 toward the purchase of MAF’s 10th KODIAK, which will become a floatplane to serve the people living along the many jungle rivers of Central Kalimantan.

When asked what he would tell other teens who might be thinking of doing something big like this, for any charity, William said, “It’s a lot of hard work but stick with it.” Imbrock says he was inspired by the family, how they all worked together to support William and to engage their church family and community in his vision. From his mom and two younger sisters who were up at 6 a.m. baking cookies for the event, to the FBO (Flight Base Operations) managers who provided space in their terminal building. They all came together to make the event a successful one.

After returning home late Saturday night, Tim says he was exhausted the next day. “But I don’t think the smile left my face, thinking about the time and energy spent sharing with people about what MAF does. And it wasn’t about the bright, shiny airplane—neither was William interested in the airplane being the focus. It was about the impact this tool will have.”

Photos by Perry Pust.

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