Four Airplanes, One Hangar, Kingdom Impact

It truly takes a village—or a fleet of airplanes, mechanics, and MAF supporters—to bring Christ’s love to isolated people.

 

At MAF’s hangar in Uganda, four aircraft from different Africa programs were recently in for maintenance at the same time—from Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Chad, South Sudan, and Uganda.

While each one waited for its turn in the shop, imagine if they could swap stories of how God was using them to bring hope and the love of Christ to isolated people throughout Africa.

Christian aviation charity pilots fly pastors Bible translation fight Ebola

Four MAF airplanes: top L to R: 5X-MON in South Sudan by Dave Waterman; 9S-EAU in EDRC by Chad Dimon; bottom L to R: TT-BER in Chad by Dave Waterman; 5X-BIL in Uganda by Mike Shutts.

 

Cessna Caravan TT-BER might share about how it took a team of church leaders from Chad to the Central African Republic. The leaders knew the country was going through a hard time, and many were trying to help. But they felt that God wanted them to bring a message of restoration.

“The better way is to take the gospel and heal the heart of man. Then, as the heart is healed the country can be rebuilt,” said pastor Nagueral Toidibaye.

That four-day trip by road (which they’d done previously) was reduced to a half day of flying. The team was able to start their teaching the same day they traveled, wearing the same suits they’d traveled in!

Pastors in Chad bringing reconciliation and healing through Christ

Three pastors with the Eglise La Parole de Vie denomination who were flown to CAR for reconciliation meetings. Photo by Mark and Kelly Hewes.

 

In South Sudan, Cessna 182 5X-MON had a part in a beautiful story, as it delivered boxes of Bibles and SIL team members to the village of Chukudum in preparation for the Didinga Bible dedication. On the day of the big event, other translators, missionaries, and dignitaries began to arrive via MAF flights. They were greeted at the airstrip by a large group of people. Joyful yips, flower petals, singing, and dancing enveloped the passengers as they disembarked the airplanes. Someone presented the group with a Didinga Bible and it was quickly grasped and carried away, held high above their heads as they continued to celebrate.

This New Testament was almost 40 years in the making, slowed by ongoing wars in South Sudan. But finally, the Didinga people will be able to read God’s Word in their heart language!

Bible translation celebration

School girls line the road holding Didinga-language Bibles. Photo by Wes Ringer, SIL.

 

“A lot of logistics were involved in getting people and Bibles to Chukudum at the right time,” said Tanya Spronk, an SIL literacy and education coordinator in South Sudan. “Over a thousand Bibles went out there for the weekend, and MAF went off their routes to make sure to drop enough Bibles and books in time for the dedication. MAF is key to bringing our Bibles out to the communities of South Sudan, because it is too insecure to drive them.”

Not all flights result in joyful outbursts, of course. Some are of a more serious nature, like the ones Cessna Caravan 9S-EAU has been doing lately in the DRC, in the fight against Ebola. Since August of 2018 there have been 1290 cases and 833 deaths reported in eastern DRC (WHO situational report, April 16, 2019). 9S-EAU and the MAF team based in Nyankunde have been transporting vaccines, medical personnel, supplies, and sanitation equipment into the North Kivu province. The outbreak is happening in an area known for violent attacks. In fact, in early March two Ebola treatment centers were destroyed.

Dave Petersen, director of operations for the MAF EDRC program, had just sat down with his morning coffee when he saw an urgent email. A team of 45 medical personnel was being evacuated and they were asking MAF to help evacuate their supplies.

“I saw the email at 6:00 a.m., made a call and was able to be airborne in 20 minutes; I was on the ground in Butembo in another 30,” said Dave. “I took out a full plane of their personal bags as well as 661 lbs of medical files from the treatment centers.”

5X-BIL, another Cessna Caravan, flew an e3 Partners team to help with a church planting effort and discipleship at one of the refugee camps in Uganda. The team said they were overwhelmed at the stories of suffering they heard but were amazed how those stories were always followed by statements of prayer and worship.

“The Christian Sudanese refugees and Ugandan people taught us what true worship looks like,” said one of the team members. “I have never seen people who can so openly worship God and praise Him in the midst of their suffering.”

Christian aviation charity pilots fly pastors Bible translation fight Ebola

Four MAF airplanes: top L to R: 5X-MON in South Sudan by Dave Waterman; 9S-EAU in EDRC by Chad Dimon; bottom L to R: TT-BER in Chad by Dave Waterman; 5X-BIL in Uganda by Mike Shutts.

 

These four airplanes provide a glimpse into how God is working through MAF to bring hope and healing to isolated people around the world. But these flights would not happen without skilled mechanics working behind the scenes to maintain each airplane. And none of this would happen without the faithful supporters who partner with us to share the love of Jesus in some of the remotest places on the planet. It truly takes the body of Christ working together.

 

 

 

 

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