Generations of Innovation

In 1964 violent uprisings gripped the country that is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Missionaries found themselves in increasing danger and needed to escape before the fighting claimed their lives. Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) played a key role in these evacuations. While airplanes were obviously integral, according to decades-old reports and testimonies, another innovation was also critical to the efforts: the “MISSAVIA” radio.

An early MAF missionary pilot in Papua, Hank Worthington, with a Missavia radio in the background. Photo by Hobey Lowrance.

An early MAF missionary pilot in Papua, Hank Worthington, with a Missavia radio in the background. Photo by Hobey Lowrance.

“Our MISSAVIA was on from 6:30 in the morning to 10:00 every night and coordinated much of the evacuation operation. During those days of crisis, not only the missionaries used the network, but also the United Nations, and the Embassy,” Wes Eisemann, an MAF missionary pilot, wrote in MAF publications dated in 1964.

A few years before this incident, MAF missionaries developed the MISSAVIA radio—a new and unique technology at the time. MISSAVIA paved the way for a network of HF/VHF radios still in demand in remote areas.

“MISSAVIA radios directly met a need that MAF saw in remote locations,” said Tim Dyk, supervisor of the MAF Avionics department. “It was seen immediately that missionaries had no way to make contact with the outside world or to call the airplane if there was an emergency. So, this radio was designed to meet that need—it truly represented ‘overcoming barriers’ and allowed missionaries to serve in remote locations!”

A missionary using a Missavia radio in Papua. Photo by Hobey Lowrance.

A missionary using a Missavia radio in Papua. Photo by Hobey Lowrance.

“For a long time, MAF has looked to leverage simple global technology for the sake of the Gospel,” said Doug Harrison, director of Technical Resources for MAF.

While aviation has always been at the core of how MAF reaches isolated people with Christ’s love, technology has long played a key role. From the early MISSAVIA radios to innovations today that are making it possible for the Gospel to be shared—regardless of geographic or political barriers. MAF is committed to developing technology solutions in tandem with aviation, to transform lives, churches, and communities.


Story published in
FlightWatch 2014, Vol 4.

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