For millions of people around the world, there are no roads, no doctors, and no 911. There's only Mission Aviation Fellowship.
MAF uses their fleet of over 130 aircraft to reach communities in need – delivering medical services, disaster relief, and sharing the love of Christ. But without people to pilot their planes, those services, and supplies cannot reach their destination.
Right now, there is a worldwide need for missionary aviators. That’s why MAF plans to double the number of pilots flying for them. But to have more pilots, they need more training facilities.
That’s why they’ve launched the Next Generation campaign – raising funds to expand Prairie Aviation Training Centre (PATC) in Three Hills, Alberta.
Dallas Derksen is the Director of Prairie Aviation Training Centre, affiliated with Prairie College. He says that because they’re located close to the Rocky Mountains, their training program goes above and beyond.
“Our program focuses on mission aviation, discipleship, and spiritual growth of our students. Not only do they acquire a spectacular skill set, but they also grow in their faith.”
Derksen adds that the partnership between Prairie College and Mission Aviation Fellowship enables students to “serve God here where we are, and to see our students make a difference around the world.”
President and CEO of MAF, Brad Bell, reflects on his experience on the ground with missionary aviators.
“I was in South Sudan, flying with one of our Canadian pilots, stopping at remote villages. In one of the villages, I was talking to the charge nurse. She was holding a baby… and told me that because of the solar panel equipment that MAF had flown out, she wouldn't have to hold a dying baby in her arms again.”
Bell explains that, before MAF’s lifesaving delivery, the power in this village would frequently fail, the oxygen pumps would fail, and the babies they had in their NICU department would no longer have oxygen.
“The babies would… pass away,” shares Bell, his voice breaking slightly. “The charge nurse was so excited that now they would have continuous power and the oxygen pumps would not fail again.”
MAF was able to play a part in this story by providing lifesaving electricity in such a remote place.
Chris Ball is Chief Pilot for Mission Aviation Fellowship in Kenya and South Sudan. He adds that MAF also distributes free Bibles through the churches and local communities. He shares about the discipleship and growth he’s witnessed.
“It’s just exploding. When the chief gave his life to Christ, all the villagers listened. And when his sons accepted Christ and were baptized, it opened the gates. It’s unbelievable.”
He reflects that the greatest reward is knowing that the Gospel’s going out and people's lives are being saved.
“That's what keeps us going. That's the whole reason we're here.” To bring help, hope and healing through aviation and to see isolated people changed by the love of Christ.
Lowell Deering is VP of Operations with Mission Aviation Fellowship. He notes that MAF is looking for aviators who are independent and adaptable.
“We need people who can work in remote communities, and to fly into remote airstrips. People who are going to be dealing with different cultures and weather conditions. Working closely with people with limited access to basic necessities such as food, medicines and school supplies.”
He notes that many communities can only be reached on foot or by plane – and because of the global shortage of missionary aviators, these communities continue to be completely unreached, or may not have been reached in the last 50 years.
“We need people who are willing to take the gospel there.”
Marijn Goud is a Pilot Mechanic with MAF, based in southwest Africa.
“God brought me to Mission Aviation Fellowship,” shares Goud. “In 2019 there was a big drought here in Angola, and there was one specific area where an airplane had not landed for over 30 years. We had some contact with people on the ground, and they told us the local people had repaired their airstrip so that we could land and bring them food.”
Goud says they were able to deliver more than a ton of food.
“Bringing hope to places where there's no hope… it’s just an amazing thing. There's nothing like it.”
Matthew Marples is a second-generation pilot with Mission Aviation Fellowship, and he spent a lot of time flying to remote villages with his father. He recalls one pivotal moment in New Guinea when he was young.
“We stopped at this tiny village in the middle of nowhere… and there was a small Bible college, entirely dependent on MAF flying in their staff, supplies and students to stay operational. And it was thriving! I realized that through the support of our generous donors and the work at MAF, we played a key role in the success of the college.”
Matthew’s father Richard Marples explains just how remote these villages truly are… and the difference he has seen MAF making in the lives of the people there.
“You literally cannot get there. There are no rivers, there are certainly no roads. So it's walking, or nothing. And some of these places it takes days to walk to.”
He shares a story about one woman who was in labour.
“Five men from her village carried her three days through the jungle to get her to the closest runway so we could pick her up and fly her to the nearest hospital.”
He adds, “We're not doing it for money. We're not doing it for business. We're doing it because Jesus sent us to do so.”
You can be part of helping to expand MAF’s impact faster and farther. To learn more or to give now, please visit https://maf.ca/nextgeneration.