> What does a missionary pilot do?
> First, let me give you a brief history of this area. Almost 100 years ago missionaries came into the region of Borneo (which is now Malaysia and Indonesia on the island of Kalimantan) to reach the tribal villages with the Good News of Jesus. They lived amongst the villages, gave training to local leaders and built churches in each village. The missionaries have slowly moved out of the villages over the past 40 years as the Indonesian churches have been established and grounded in faith. Most of the villages here are Christians, not the national religion of Islam. That is due to years of mission work.
> MAF (Missionary Aviation Fellowship) has been established in Indonesia for 60+ years and here in this region for more than 40 years. MAF allows the Gospel, and basic, life-sustaining services into this primitive and otherwise inaccessible region of Indonesia. From their base in the city of Tarakan, they fly to about 25 villages. They have established relationships with these villages and are their source to the outside. Without a plane for transport and supplies, it would take weeks to months of walking through the jungle to reach a town that could offer medical help or supplies.
So what does a missionary pilot do each day? Paul heads to the MAF hangar about 7 am to get a “schedule” for the day. His flying will include medical evacuations, taking supplies to remote villages, transporting people from village to village or to the mainland, or whatever else may come up. The key to the schedule is flexibility.
Isaiah and I had a chance to ride along on a Medi-vac flight with Paul. We flew into a village with a VERY small landing strip (that had a large dirt wall built at the end of the landing strip!) to pick up a man that had fallen off of a roof and had a major head injury. The man was transported back to the main city of Tarakan where he is receiving medical care at the hospital.
Donnie also had the chance to fly along with Paul for a day into two of the three regions that MAF serves in the interior of Borneo. He was able to see how Paul not only uses his skills as a pilot, but manages the tasks of flight crew and control tower often as well, as it was necessary to make a decision to cancel a scheduled flight due to the build up of some serious thunderstorms in the area. (All without the help of Radar.)
Paul has the opportunity to put the Gospel into practice each day by helping the interior people through aviation. “I want to encourage people through personal relationships, including strong cross-cultural friendships that will glorify God.” says Paul. Paul and Beth have spent time interior getting to know people in their homes and creating a bond of friendship. Paul is a local celebrity bringing supplies and being a lifeline for the people that live interior. Watching his job, I may just ask for an autograph!
As we have seen a glimpse of their life here and what it looks like to be a pilot here in Indonesia, we are reminded of the verse, “Let us hold unswerving to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Hebrews 10:23-24.