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Read the MAF News Release regarding this announcement.
Last Friday, as I was getting ready to leave, I picked up the Kleenex scattered around my desk. It had been a near-tears kind of day . . . week, actually. There were extra Chapels, with regional directors sharing, board reports, and a special devotional message. And then, there was a new set of prayer letters from the field that showed up in my inbox. It was a week full of stories––stories that spoke of God’s faithfulness: hearing about the work of our missionaries and how they’ve impacted others for Christ; learning of one pilot’s reunion with a young cancer survivor whom he had flown numerous times for treatment. These are the things that tug at my heart strings and point to a God who exists outside the box, who is actively involved and working through His people in some of the most remote places in the world.
It’s the Job
In the normal course of my work week, I might be led to tears, but I’m just as likely to have joy . . . even laughter. And it seems I have had my share of both extremes lately. My job here as Resource Coordinator means that I get to gather and read stories from the field, or do research for something I’m going to write. So last week, in between the tears, I was also receiving delightful stories about babies that have been named after our pilots or their wives in the field. Some of these have been so sweet, and some have been just plain funny . . . thus the occasional laughter emanating from my cubicle. (And thanks to those responsible for this. You know who you are and I won’t name names.) I look forward to writing about that at a later date.
Bring it On
I suppose an emotional rollercoaster kind of job is not necessarily a bad thing. It just means that what’s happening in the field, and the reports we get in Chapel, well, it’s all powerful stuff. God is at work, and I am just so thankful to be connected in some small way to what He’s doing around the world through MAF. And the more laughter or tears, the stronger the story we can share with our readers and supporters. So I say, bring it on! Hit me with your best story. I am ready and waiting with Kleenex in hand.
What about your job has you laughing or crying?
“I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” —Matthew 25:40 NIV
When I speak publicly about the work of MAF, I often use a phrase that captures the heart of what MAF’s ministry is all about: “Demonstration and Proclamation.” And oftentimes, I am asked to explain what that phrase means to me.
Jesus did far more than preach when he walked on the earth. The signs and wonders that accompanied Jesus’ ministry were often miracles born out of a desire to meet people’s physical needs. People were hungry, so Jesus multiplied loaves of bread and fish to feed thousands of these hungry folk. People were ill, so Jesus healed them, enabling them to walk, see or hear. People were out of wine at a party, so Jesus turned water into wine to avoid an embarrassing situation for the party host.
If we truly consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:34-40, we realize that the Gospel is as much demonstrated through the way we live out our faith as it is proclaimed in the way we tell others about Jesus’ death and resurrection. What that means for MAF is that before our people in the field ever share the Good News, they are already living it, breathing it. They show God’s Love to people in isolated parts of the world, before they ever say a word. Airplanes delivering vital goods like food or medical supplies tangibly demonstrate God’s love. Then after MAF pilots and missionaries have developed a trustworthy relationship with the remote people groups they are serving, they have an opportunity to proclaim the Good News—and share it more powerfully.
That’s what “demonstration and proclamation” means to me! That is what MAF is about.
The HCJB mission hospital in Quito ran a research clinic at Zappallo Grande, a village in Ecuador’s coastal jungle. Previously, a 12- to 18-hour drive positioned the doctors for an additional four-hour canoe trip to reach the village–if the river cooperated. Now, we fly them there in 45 minutes.
Thursdays we delivered the team to Zappallo where they focused on finding a treatment for River Blindness (Onchocerciasis) — a disease spread by fly bites that causes total, irreversible blindness in millions of people worldwide. Sundays we brought them back. While there, the doctors radioed us when they were ready to collect patient blood samples. If the weather looked good, we approved the collection. Forty-five minutes later, we arrived with ice-filled coolers, packed the samples, and flew back to Quito. A waiting car delivered the coolers to the lab.
The system worked well, but one day I asked the director, missionary Ron Guderian, “Is there anything more we can do to help?”
He laughed and said, “No. Unless you can fly a generator there. It would really accelerate our work, but it’s too big for the canoes.”
“Let’s take a look,” I said.
I measured the monster and over the next few days visited equipment dealers in Quito, searched the web and finally calculated that it weighed 850-900 pounds. If I left all extra seats and fueled for a one-way flight plus reserve, I’d be within both the airplane’s center of gravity and weight limits. I could refuel for the return flight from our cache in Zappallo.
So, we drug the beast from a groaning truck bed into the airplane. After securing the load, I pushed the tail of the Cessna 206 down to the ground, then let go. This test alone wasn’t enough to determine the aircraft’s center of gravity, but offered a good confirmation of my calculations. The tail rose quickly. Nothing left to do but recheck the weather and fly.
That generator dramatically improved the Zappallo clinic’s research. Ron estimates that they developed a River Blindness treatment two years sooner than their highest hopes.
As I travel all over the world each year conducting business for MAF, I have the privilege of hearing amazing stories about how God is using MAF to transform lives in some of the most remote locations on earth. These testimonies from MAF personnel and ministry partners serve as a constant focal point for me, reminding me why MAF does what it does.
In the past, my opportunity to share these stories was limited to monthly letters and periodic newsletters. Now, that is all about to change.
With this blog, I am excited about creating a new space to offer up some of my thoughts about the ministry of MAF, as well as other incredible testimonies of how the Lord is transforming lives. I am eager to share insights into what God is doing through MAF as our faithful missionaries take the Gospel and tangible expressions of the love of Jesus Christ to isolated people.
These are exciting times for MAF and I look forward to opening another window for you to see how God is working and moving around the globe.