The MAF Blog: Worldwide Pulse

Posts Tagged ‘africa’

Caring for the Sick, As Jesus Commanded

Posted on: September 30th, 2014 by John Boyd  |  1 Comment

The recent outbreak of Ebola in western Africa has brought attention to the sad state of healthcare in that part of the world. But those who spend any time in Africa are keenly aware of its inadequacies. Few hospitals and doctors … limited access to immunizations, or fear of them … illnesses caused by lack of clean water … and so many other challenges.

PC12 flights to combat Ebola 03Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) works in several parts of Africa, and medical flying is an important part of what we do. In the small southern Africa country of Lesotho, 73 percent of MAF’s flights are of a medical nature. More than 23 percent of Lesotho’s people are infected with HIV/AIDS, the second highest rate in the world. The life expectancy is just 53 years, compared to the global average of 70 years. MAF works in partnership with the Lesotho Flying Doctors Service, supporting the work of doctors and nurses at 10 clinics in the mountains. We are constantly flying nurses to the clinics, along with the food they will need for the one, two, three, or four weeks that they will be on duty in the mountains.

Likewise, in Mozambique, MAF was instrumental in founding the MozMed flying doctor service. MAF transports these Christian healthcare professionals to the villages of Moma and Gurue when they administer vaccines, conduct exams, perform dental work, and treat the sick and injured. Emergency medical flights are a common occurrence for all MAF pilots.

In recent weeks, MAF has played a key role in the efforts to contain an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. MAF’s dedicated team has flown eight loads of medical supplies and personnel to the Boende region of the DRC, in Equateur province. On the return flights, we carry out Ebola samples for analysis. There are no paved roads between Boende and Kinshasa, and without MAF’s services, help would be very slow in coming to these suffering people.

Several people have asked me if these Ebola flights are dangerous. Yes, there is a risk, although MAF has a plan in place to control that risk. But this is what we are called to do: to bring hope to the lost and suffering. Sometimes that hope takes the form of doctors, nurses, syringes, and IV solution … accompanied by the prayers of the MAF staff who have committed their lives to God’s work.

As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.” — Matthew 10:8

And each time God uses an MAF flight to save a life, that flight is lifted up by the prayers of the ministry’s friends and supporters who intercede so faithfully. You know who you are. To you—and our Lord Jesus Christ—I am most grateful.

Constant Change and a Constant Savior

Posted on: August 12th, 2014 by John Boyd  |  1 Comment

007460-HQ-DG-Personnel-NateSaintTwenty years of constant change. That’s one way I could describe my experience with MAF.

Over the years, Tanya and I have moved many times, living in nine different countries. That’s a lot of change! But more importantly, the world and this ministry have drastically changed.

Christianity looks different than it did just decades ago. It’s no longer a majority European and North American religion. Early in the 20th century, two-thirds of the world’s Christians were in Europe. Now, only 25 percent are European, and nearly as many live in Africa.1 This means that past missionary efforts are bearing fruit. It also affects the way we “do missions” as MAF serves fewer western missionaries and supports more local evangelists and teachers ministering among their own people.

Antagonism toward Christianity is on the rise. Even as Christianity grows and spreads, so do ideologies that are hostile to our faith. And this hostility isn’t just in Asia and Africa. Even in America, those who embrace secularism and atheism look with distain upon followers of Jesus.

The internet and mobile technology have changed how we communicate, do business, and minister. Rather than living in isolation, today’s missionaries remain connected to their families, friends, and ministry organizations. Some post their experiences online, even daily! Likewise, such electronic communication is an exciting tool for sharing the Gospel in the remote areas of the world.

MAF pilot tripp flytheAviation tools have also changed. The larger, more advanced airplanes available today permit MAF to operate much more efficiently and effectively. Modern technology, combined with MAF’s internal safety standards, allows the ministry to operate with a high level of safety.

A new generation has assumed leadership at MAF. The “pioneer” MAF missionaries have moved on, leaving big shoes to fill. MAF’s current leadership team must develop mission strategies in a world that is more “global” in the sense that what happens in one place can immediately impact others. More than ever, mission organizations must work in partnership to most effectively build God’s kingdom.

Amid this rapid change, I take comfort in knowing that one thing will never change: our Lord Jesus Christ. Scripture tells us that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). We don’t need to fear the inconsistency in this world because He is there to provide comfort, guidance, and rest for our souls. His Great Commission is still relevant and it’s exciting to think about the miracles and transformation that will be seen and experienced by the next generation of MAF missionaries.

I took you from the ends of the earth,
from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, ‘You are my servant’;
I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:9-10

1 Pew Research: Global Christianity – A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian Population. http://www.pewforum.org/2011/12/19/global-christianity-exec/

Family Near and Far

Posted on: June 25th, 2014 by Jill Holmes  |  Leave a comment

Jill Holmes speaking at her church in Mozambique.

Jill Holmes speaking at her church in Mozambique.

Recently I was asked to share the message at our local church here in Mozambique. The Sunday morning I was assigned happened to be Family Day, which is unlike any U.S. holiday. I had the opportunity to talk about the importance of family, our responsibilities to family, and what it means to belong to the family of God. I mentioned to the congregation that although I left my family when I moved to Africa, I instantly had family when I got here because of the relationships we have with our brothers and sisters in Christ. I love to think about the family reunion we will have when we get to heaven and how there will be people from every nation and tongue together worshipping God.

But, there is still something about your own family. I can’t say that I’m currently homesick living here so far away from my family, but this time of year it really feels like we are missing out on a lot. We have family members graduating, getting married, having surgery, going on family vacations—and when you aren’t there, it feels like it didn’t really happen. Family members grow and change while we are gone, and so do we. When we reunite, we aren’t the same people anymore.

How do you reconcile the importance the Bible puts on family with the clear call from God to leave your family to go live on the other side of the world? I am so thankful to have family members that are supportive of the work we do and cheer us on from afar. I also thank God for the technology that lets us stay connected regularly. Thank God for family!

Fighting the Wind

Posted on: June 11th, 2014 by Justin Honaker  |  Leave a comment

035155-Lesotho-PP-2010Q4ACircling the remote mountain airstrip I see both windsocks standing straight out, indicating lots of wind. My onboard GPS is talking to me and I don’t like what it says. Around 20 knots crosswind, I calculate. My heart is thumping and my palms are sweating. My hopes for landing are not high.

The day’s scheduled flights are canceled on account of strong winds. We leave medical emergency flight requests open on a case-by-case basis. A request for a teenage girl in need of a blood transfusion comes in around noon. At her particular airstrip we are able to take a lot of wind, so it’s an acceptable risk.

Trying to line my Cessna 206 up on final, it looks like I will exceed that acceptable risk. If I don’t land, I fly home and other arrangements will have to be made for the patient. I cannot let that compromise safety, however. The left rudder pedal is slammed to the floor; the airplane is at its maximum control input. If I can keep the airplane flying straight down the runway, I can land. And if not, I’ll need to return home, without the patient.

I’m barely keeping the airplane straight, definitely at my maximum personal limitations, and chuckle as decision time rapidly approaches. “This isn’t going to work,” I think out loud. But as if on queue, the airplane locks itself straight with the runway and on centerline. I pull the power, expecting to reject the landing at any moment, but trying to give the landing every opportunity. I touchdown firmly and apply heavy braking. I am down and safe on the ground!

My passenger/patient is not doing well. I tell her it will be a very bumpy ride but that she is less than an hour from the hospital. She seems too sick to understand, or care. Getting airborne again, I radio ahead for a wind report. My heart drops with the reply: it will be another landing, right to maximums. By God’s grace, I’m able to land again safely, and the girl makes it to the hospital.

It Takes A Village – Part 2

Posted on: May 14th, 2014 by Kimberly Baker  |  Leave a comment

Continued from an earlier post

Working on the Lebakeng airstrip. Photo by Matt Monson.

Working on the Lebakeng airstrip. Photo by Matt Monson.

Despite our best efforts to alert government entities, healthcare workers, and the villagers about the possible airstrip closure if someone didn’t take ownership and fix it, nothing had been done—that is, until now.

On April 24, 80 community members, several clinicians, and ten MAF staff (about half of our team) met together in Lebakeng to make the needed repairs to the airstrip. The community recognized the need and the benefit and invited us to help them, not the other way round. The cost? Two flights and enough food to feed everyone. A small price to pay when you consider the number of lives that will be saved by keeping this airstrip operational. We worked shoulder to shoulder fixing the airstrip and making enough food for the crowd.

After the work was done and everyone was fed, we presented the Gospel and gave out audio and hard copies of Bibles in the Sesotho language—one for each village represented. Over 20 were given out that day and more were needed! We believe some there were hearing the Good News for the first time!

Hearing the Good News in Lebakeng. Photo by Matt Monson.

Hearing the Good News in Lebakeng. Photo by Matt Monson.

We praise the Lord for this partnership and pray that news will spread to other communities in similar circumstances. We are thrilled for this opportunity to partner with the Basotho—to work side by side and to hopefully give them a sense of purpose and ownership of this lifeline for their community. And it gives us the chance to share the love of Jesus in the most practical of ways. To give our time, two flights, and a meal in exchange for lives saved… lives that will have more time on this earth to hear about Christ. This is what our ministry in Lesotho is all about!