Twenty years on the field. Three countries. Seven evacuations. Political unrest. Ailing parents back home. Brad and Kristian Westom encountered different struggles while serving as an MAF pilot/mechanic family. When these struggles arose, they sought out wise people who had experienced similar things.
“There were a few times along the way that we were looking for those kinds of people, and we were glad when we found them,” said Kristian.
Brad and Kristian recalled their first evacuation out of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and how helpful it was when another mission organization with a counseling ministry in the DRC debriefed them after the incident—helping them process what they had been through.
During their last field assignment in Lesotho, they began to sense the Lord was pointing them in a different direction than aviation.
“We felt like God was leading us into something more ‘people oriented’—more discipleship and mentoring,” said Brad.
After the couple organized a worship conference for the local Lesotho churches, some of the young adults approached Brad and asked if he could teach them the Bible. So Brad started meeting with them weekly.
Soon he realized that the excitement, or blessing, he normally felt when flying was the same way he felt when he was talking with these young men.
“The Lord was really doing something in my heart,” said Brad, “and Kristian was having similar experiences.”
“The Simply the Story team came out and I did the training with them,” explained Kristian. “That was a neat tool that I started using—telling Bible stories, having people ask questions, and discipling through that.”
When MAF leadership asked them to join the newly formed member care department at headquarters, there was only one other couple on the team.
The Westoms understood the value of caring for staff, and with the Lord’s prompting, and much prayer, they came aboard in 2013.
Brad is a member care specialist, and Kristian connects with new and visiting MAF families by hosting dinners at the Westom home.
They work on building relationships with the new MAF missionaries right from the start, before they ever leave for the field.
“We’re trying to plant some seeds,” said Brad, “so they’re more prepared when they get overseas and have struggles.
“Because they’re going to have struggles,” says Brad. “And when those struggles come, they’re already going to know somebody they can talk to.”
The Westoms are looking for others to join their team. If you’d like to help encourage MAF staff around the world through the Westom’s ministry, visit maf.org/Westom.
Story appeared in the January 2018 issue of FlightWatch.