GOD in the Unknowns

Zach and Hannah Wilkinson share how God is preparing them for mission aviation

BY: TRAVIS K. KIRCHER
MAF Advocate

If you follow Zach Wilkinson’s Instagram account for any length of time, you’ll quickly discover three things.

Zach and Hanna Wilkinson

He loves aviation. He loves photography. And most importantly, he loves his new bride, Hannah.

The latter is obvious as the pair speak on a conference call from their apartment in Wichita, Kansas. When Hannah is jokingly encouraged to “spill the dirt” on Zach, she giggles, and Zach replies, “She knows me better than anyone.”

Both Florida transplants – he from Bradenton, she from Daytona Beach – they have differing views of the Kansas climate. He likes snow. She doesn’t. “I did live in Colorado for, like, two years of my life,” Hannah says. “But then I came back to Florida. So I mean, I know what cold is like, but I still don’t like it. I don’t want it to snow. I want it to warm up.”

“I miss a lot of things from Florida, but Wichita is okay,” Zach says. “Kansas is pretty cool. The sunsets are really nice, they’re just not over oceans. That’s the big difference.”

But in the coming years, Zach and Hannah both say they hope to make an even bigger move to even more diverse climates – leaping not just states, but continents – as they deploy to the mission field: Zach as a missionary pilot, and Hannah as a nurse.

The aviation bug

Missionary aviation wasn’t always a part of the equation in Zach’s life. In fact, for a while, aviation was little more than a childhood hobby.

“I had airplane toys, and built models, and had airplane wallpaper,” Zach recalls. “Warbirds, mainly, were my favorite. My greatest interest was World War II aviation.”

Then came his first airplane ride. Or rather, his first ride in a small, general aviation airplane. (“I had been on commercial flights before that, but I don’t really count those, as those aren’t really airplane rides,” Zach explains. “Those are like bus rides in the sky.”)

That flight – a biplane ride at the Fantasy of Flight museum in Orlando – came when Zach was around 14 or 15 years old.

“It was pretty cool,” Zach says. “It was an open-cockpit airplane. It was a nice, cool, sunny Florida day with good visibility and the perfect sky. And I liked being low to the ground – relatively low to the ground, compared to most airliners – and being able to see everything real well.”

Zach with his dad

It proved to be a bonding experience for Zach and his father, who accompanied him on the flight.

“My dad had an interest in airplanes, but he was never a pilot,” Zach says. “But he kind of encouraged that in my life: he took me to air shows, and I think he enjoyed having a son who was into airplanes.”

Growing up in Bradenton, Zach’s family was also devoutly religious.

“I grew up in a family who knew Christ, and they encouraged me in my walk to follow Christ,” Zach says. “I’ve kind of always grown up knowing great Christian people and having good leadership and good peers and good family – grandma and grandpa, and really everyone.”

As time wore on, Zach busied himself with church and school activities. Aviation – at least in the sense of pursuing a pilot’s license – was not part of the picture.

All of that changed during Zach’s junior year at Bradenton Christian School, when, on a lark, he decided to take his first flight lesson. As before, his father came along for the ride.

“I took a discovery flight in Florida – the Sarasota airport there, which is right near Bradenton,” he says. “ It was in a [Cessna] Skyhawk. I had a good time. We were going along the coast and saw the beautiful coastline. It was easy for me and I went on to take more lessons.”

It was then that Zach was unwittingly bitten by the aviation bug – a malady that claims so many other victims, as well as their wallets. Upon graduating high school, Zach quickly enrolled at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach.

The Behal detour

For anyone seeking a job in aviation – particularly during a pilot shortage – the “obvious” career path leads straight through the airlines, but Zach wasn’t so sure.

“As I learned more about airline flying, I didn’t dislike it, but I thought, ‘I don’t know if I really want to do that kind of flying for the rest of my life,’” Zach explains. “Because the airlines are a very one-path, very vertical direction. I mean, you build hours, you go to a regional airline, you go through a mainline carrier, and when you’re 65, you retire. I wanted more opportunities to do a broader scope of aviation, and also tie in my faith with that.”

Zach’s prayers would be answered when he ran into Brian Behal, a recruiter for Mission Aviation Fellowship, during a career fair at Embry-Riddle during  Zach’s freshman year. Behal introduced Zach to MAF’s mission of “sharing the love of Jesus Christ through aviation and technology so that isolated people can be physically and spiritually transformed.”

Suddenly for Zach, a whole new world was opened up. “I may be biased in saying it, but I think the type of flying that the missionary pilots do – from a pilot’s sense – is way cooler than flying in airlines,” he says. “The airlines – I made that quip earlier about being a bus driver in the sky – whereas the mission aviator, they are directly involved in helping people who desperately need help and who otherwise don’t have forms of transportation. And you’re flying through mountains and valleys and you might even be a seaplane pilot and land on lakes and rivers. You’re always invested in people’s lives and communities, moreso than just an airline pilot.”

“To me, that’s like the greatest combo you could ever do, is do something as cool as flying airplanes, but also serve and seek the lost with that capability.”

As the years went by, Zach says he would continue to attend career fairs at Embry-Riddle. Each time, he says he would walk past the airline representatives and head straight for Brian Behal at the MAF booth. As time wore on, he obtained his private pilot’s license, his instrument rating, his commercial rating, his multi-engine endorsement and his CFI rating. There was, however, one thing that troubled him – one thing he lacked.

MAF prefers that its missionary pilots also have an Airframe & Powerplant (A&P) mechanic’s rating – something Zach didn’t have. And as his college career was rapidly coming to a close, it was something Zach would have neither the time, nor the resources to pursue.

It was a problem Zach – and God – would revisit later.

Romance in the sky

Hannah Wilkinson

Meanwhile, God was raising up another of His Florida children – and her life

was about to intersect with Zach’s.

Nineteen-year-old Hannah Apking had been working at Chick-fil-A and was about to graduate with an associate’s degree in sciences from Daytona State College.

“I had to work a lot,” Hannah says. “I didn’t get a lot of school done because I had to work a lot.”

“She got her associate’s debt-free because she is super-cool,” Zach says.

“That was always a goal of mine too,” Hannah says. “Like, I never wanted to go to a university right off, and I didn’t want to get into a bunch of debt.”

Zach had recently graduated from Embry-Riddle and was flight instructing, when a friend of his – who knew he had an interest in photography – asked him to take aerial pictures of two airplanes: a Cirrus and a Cessna Skyhawk.

“So on a particular day, we were doing a photo mission with a Cirrus and a Skyhawk,” Zach says. “And, well, simply enough, the pilot of the Cirrus brought his girlfriend along for the photo mission, and his girlfriend’s friend was none other than Hannah. So Hannah was there. So when I met them at the airport to jump in the plane, there was Hannah. I met Hannah.”

She was 19. Zach was 23. They hit it off. The next day, the four of them went bowling. Zach asked her out two weeks later.

As time blissfully wore on, their relationship deepened. They both shared commonalities: a strong Christian family heritage, and a desire to serve and help people – Zach through missionary aviation, and Hannah though nursing.

“I always preferred science and stuff, more than everything else in school,” Hannah explains, recalling her pull toward a nursing career. “But later in high school, I needed to pick a career, but I didn’t know what to do. But I kinda wanted to help people. I felt like that’s what I should be doing. I just felt like that’s where I was supposed to be headed.”

Before long,  Zach knew it was time to propose. Hannah says she kinda-sorta knew what was going on, because Zach dropped a MAJOR hint when he went to buy the ring.

“Like, a month before, Zach was like, ‘Hannah, I’m gonna go on a special errand,’” Hannah laughs. “And I’m like, ‘Why would you tell someone that? Why would you tell a girl you’re going on a special errand?’ So I knew what he was doing, pretty much.”

Both Zach and Hannah recall how the proposal happened:

“It was very simple, because I’m pretty sure that’s how both of us preferred it,” Zach says. “We were on a beach at sunset, and we were the only people around. It was pretty cool.”

“Yeah, it was simple,” Hannah says.

“It was simple,” Zach repeats.

“But good,” Hannah reiterates.

“But good.”

Hannah says, again, there were tell-tale signs of what was about to happen.

“I was surprised but I kind of thought it was happening, because I saw, like, a little square box in his pocket,” she laughs. “But I kept telling myself that it wasn’t happening because I didn’t want to get my hopes up…”

“…in case it was a gumball or something,” Zach explains.

It wasn’t a gumball – and the two were married in Aug. 2017.

The Hillard-Parris detour

After graduating from university, Zach continued flight instructing, racking up flight hours and fulfilling a contract to do so for Embry-Riddle. Which was not a problem, because he says he fell in love with teaching.

MAF Advocates

“The impact that it has on the individual is what I enjoy so much,” he says. “You can be a part, really, of someone achieving their dream. That might be a little bit cliché to say that, but helping people achieve their goals, and genuinely wanting someone’s success was my everyday job. And airplanes were in the middle, so it was a spectacular combo, you know?”

At the same time, his relationship with MAF deepened. During an MAF event at the College of Missionary Aviation in Florida, Zach and Hannah – before they were married – met Regional Manager Dina Parris and MAF Southern Region Coordinator Scott Hillard, both of whom pressed him to join MAF’s advocate team.

“I actually got a ride on the Kodiak because I signed up to be an advocate,” Zach laughs. “I don’t know if they bribed me, but that was included in the deal. Scott Hillard gave up his ride on the Kodiak for that particular day because I agreed to sign the advocate paperwork. It was God connecting me with MAF even closer at that point.”

 

The God detour

But last year, Zach’s contract with Embry-Riddle ended, and things got real. Really real. Remember the A&P rating MAF wants its missionary pilots to have? Zach still didn’t have one – and as far as he could tell, he had no prospects for getting one.

“I didn’t know what to do,” Zach says. “That was the big, empty unknown:  how was I going to become a mechanic? I had really exhausted all of my options. Going to school wouldn’t really work. It was really the scenario where I could have a different job and could make enough money, but would never have enough time to go to school. Or I could go to school, and I would have to take out large debts and loans and I wouldn’t be able to work.”

It seemed as though Zach was going to have to set his dream of becoming a missionary pilot aside – at least for now. Maybe for a long time. Maybe for a really long time. So instead, he spent eight months courting Textron Aviation in Wichita – a company he had previously interned with, hoping to land a position as a factory training pilot there. It wouldn’t give him any mechanics experience, but at least he might make enough to go to school for it later.

“So for the longest time, I thought that was it – that was the path for me because the mission aviation thing just wasn’t going to happen right now,” Zach says. “But God was working in the background, of course, as He always does. And when I least expected it, He opened up another opportunity and it was perfect. I had completely taken God’s ability to make things happen out of the equation. He taught me a lesson, I guess, is what I’m saying.”

On a lark, Zach decided to go to the “Experience MAF” event in Wichita. That’s where MAF advocate John Penny introduced him to Joel Mugglin of Mid-Continent Aviation Services (MCAS). Mugglin explained that he needed to hire a pilot – one who could work in the mechanic’s shop as an apprentice, eventually getting an A&P.

“There’s a lot of cool things put together in this. They have a Kodiak. I like Kodiaks,” Zach says. “They have a mechanic’s shop, and I could work in the mechanic’s shop and receive the experience I need to become a mechanic. So all of a sudden, in a matter of one month, compared to my, about, eight months of talking with Textron and thinking that that was the option for me, God gave me every single little thing that I needed.”

Zach

Then in a surprising turn of events, Zach was offered both jobs. In the end, just before he and Hannah were married, he chose the MCAS position, which, like the Textron job, is also in Wichita. Now, he says he is flying, while at the same time earning experience to ultimately get his A&P rating – and getting paid to do it. He says this will take about two years. At the same time, Hannah will be going to school to pursue a nursing degree. They hope to be ready to deploy to the mission field within 4-6 years.

“So it was an excellent turning point,” Zach says. “When in life, there is an open area of unknowns, that’s where God does His best work, because that’s where He is.”

Where will they go? Zach and Hannah say they aren’t sure yet. Indonesia sounds intriguing, since Zach flies Kodiaks and that’s where Kodiaks hang out. But Africa and the Congo are interesting too. Then there’s Haiti, where they could stay close to home.

“We’ve got a map that I put up in our apartment that I just kind of stare at every once in a while,” Zach says. “I’ve put up pictures of MAF events and people who I’ve met…and there are pictures of the Kodiak and the MAF calendar is there, and little quotes and things and some Scripture. And I put pushpins in all the countries where MAF-US has bases…just so I can be mindful of how many different places are in the world.”

Wherever they go, Zach says he wants to leave it up to God’s plan, because by now, he says he’s learned that God knows what He’s doing.

“He’s got a good plan,” Zach says. “And it’s way better than mine, and He’s given me plenty of evidence that this is the way I need to go.”

TRAVIS K. KIRCHER is an advocate for MAF, based in Louisville, Kentucky. He can be reached at tkircher@maf.org.

Advocate Summit 2018 – What’s Your Why?

The deadline for the Advocate Summit is fast approaching!  Please pray about joining us June 6th, 7th and 8th. Visit HERE to register before the deadline, May 18.

What’s your Why? 

1 Samuel 12:24 reads, “But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.”

What’s your Why?  Why do you serve the Lord through MAF? Wednesday evening, June 6th we will kick off the Summit with a Welcome dinner at MAF headquarters.  The following two days (June 7 and 8) we will hear from MAF staff from all over the world as they share their Why. Our annual Summit is a unique opportunity to share challenges we as Advocates face, how we overcome those challenges and develop new skills to equip us as we serve. We look forward to seeing you this June!

New Resource! – 2018 Fact Sheet

The 2018 MAF Fact Sheets are now available! Click HERE to order copies on the Resource Order Form.

The Fact Sheet highlights how the Lord is effectively using MAF around the world and is an excellent resource for your upcoming Ministry Opportunities!

Mission to Serve: Haiti

Consider joining us October 19-26, 2018, for a Mission to Serve the MAF program in Port au Prince, Haiti!

Mission to Serve: Haiti is an incredible opportunity for volunteers, advocates and pastors to get a true feel for the culture and people of Haiti while serving the MAF staff and program. Gain valuable insight into the conditions, challenges and opportunities MAF Haiti faces on a daily basis.

To learn more and reserve your seat for this unforgettable opportunity to bless the MAF team in Haiti, visit Mission to Serve: Haiti.

MAF Podcast: Flight Follow

Since the inaugural flight with Betty Greene, MAF has countless dramatic events of missionaries as they serve in remote, isolated places around the world. Listen to stories from Ecuador, Indonesia and other locations MAF serves to share the love of Christ through aviation and technology so that isolated people may be physically and spiritually transformed. Click HERE for more information about Flight Follow.

Connecting Around the World

Connect.  That’s what the title of this newsletter is and what we’re all about as Christians, isn’t it?  Our first step in our own walk with Christ is to Connect with Him by accepting the grace of salvation through a believing faith.  Almost immediately we begin Connecting with other believers, our new brothers and sisters in the family of God that we learn from, lean on and get support from on our new journey.  Then before we feel we’re ready, we are in the situation of trying to help others make the same Connection that we’ve made as we try to explain the hope that is now inside of us.  Jesus summed up this purpose in John 17:18 “As you sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.”

Sandy and I have had the wonderful blessing of being in different communities along our life journey, in many different places around the world and our current path has landed us in South Korea.  We’ve started attending the International English Church (IEC) congregation in the city of Jinju and have made many wonderful new life friends already.  We accepted an invitation from Pastor Scott Robinson to use the whole Sunday sermon time last November to talk about MAF and our time in the DR Congo.  Afterwards, the church leadership felt led to support MAF in some way so we suggested a church to missionary connection with the Mbodwams, currently serving in DRC.  We wanted to promote a connection with those around the world that are also engaged in connecting others to the Father.

David, Sandy, and Edina

Sandy has made many connections with women, both expatriate and Korean.  Every Tuesday, she is a part of an International Women’s Group and met Edina Yoo, one of the Korean ladies who had started the group over twenty years ago.  She shared with Sandy about her own Christian walk as leadership in her church, her ministry teaching Korean to Vietnamese students, and her ministry at the Christian radio station.  As Sandy connected with Edina, sharing about MAF and about life as a missionary in Democratic Republic of Congo, Edina became so excited that she contacted her producer at the station.  Sandy met with Edina and the producer, Mr. Daniel Kim.

 

David and Sandy with station producer, Mr. Daniel Kim

God used these connections leading us to be interviewed for a radio broadcast in the Jinju studio of FEBC-Korea (https://www.febc.org/south-korea).  FEBC-Korea was founded in 1956 to broadcast the gospel to North Korea, China, Russia, and Mongolia, countries where missionaries were not allowed.   Today they have several stations that also broadcast Christian programming to local areas, the Jinju studio is part of the southeast corner of Korea with around 5 million population that includes Busan, Korea’s second largest city.

The broadcast lasted about 25 minutes with questions and answers and a song by Sandy.  In preparation, we answered a written questionnaire so we would know what kind of questions they would ask and to give our interpreter Edina time to look up any new vocabulary.

In case you’ve been wondering what it’s like to be interviewed on the radio, below is the pre-interview questionnaire we filled out.  The actual transcript would be a subset of what we wrote in preparation since you only speak a sentence or two at a time and wait for the translation.  We just ran out of time to say everything, but this gives you an idea!

FEBC– Korea, Changwon Station – (Jinju Branch)

 

⦁ Recording date: 2018. Mar. 20th. 7:00 P.M

⦁ Participants (4 people)

Program Director; Manager Mr. Kim, Dae Eun (Daniel)

Main speakers: Mr. David Francis, Mrs. Sandy Francis

Translator: Mrs. Yoo, Nam Ae (Edina)

⦁Broadcasting length: 20~ 25 minutes

 

< Dialog >

Introduce yourself (both) and about your family?

I’m David Francis and this is my wife Sandy.  We were married in 1986 and have two children, a son and a daughter.

Your occupation?

I am currently an aerospace engineer and Sandy keeps busy with womens ministry in Sacheon.

How did you come to Korea, Jinju?

 My company is working with KAI on a new airplane project.

Is this the 1st time in Korea?

No, we were here before in 1996 on a similar project, the T-50.  Then we lived in Daejeon. (Work and Obeying God’s leading)

Will you introduce MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship)?

Mission Aviation Fellowship’s purpose is to share the love of Jesus Christ through aviation and technology so that isolated people may be physically and spiritually transformed.

 MAF is a non-denominational technical support ministry that provides air transportation to over 600 Christian and humanitarian organizations in 33 countries.  Their fleet of 130 aircraft makes a take off about every 6 1/2 minutes somewhere in the world to support the vision that all people have access to both the Gospel and the resources that advance God’s kingdom. 

 But since their founding in 1945 just after WWII with light airplanes, MAF has grown and provides other new technologies like radio, email servers, and satellite based internet connections.  Missionaries use these tools to get to the field faster, increase their effectiveness in their own specialties and feel connected back home. 

Let’s go to your stories as MAF’s missionaries.

 From when and what made you decide to dedicate your life to God?

DAVID:  I met some Christian friends and accepted Christ as my savior in secondary school at a youth revival.  I had always loved airplanes and aerospace since childhood and had been saving money to take flying lessons.  I received my private pilot’s license in high school and planned a career in aerospace, but was also very interested in missions work around the world that I was hearing about at church.  The only missionary work I knew about was either translating the Bible, starting a church in remote village or being a doctor.

 During secondary school my brother gave me this book called “Jungle Pilot” that told the story of Nate Saint, the pilot with MAF who was martyred with Jim Eliott and others by the Auca Indians.  This story showed me that missions work needs all kinds of skills and talents, even aviation!  I committed to serve God through full time service as a missionary pilot.  I contacted MAF and found that they were still serving a variety of organizations around the world, so I never really looked anywhere else.

 SANDY:  My father was in the military so I moved a lot. In an Air Force chapel at the age of 5 during a Sunday School assembly program, I asked Jesus to come into my life. When I was a teenager, I asked Jesus to be not only in my life, but Lord of my life.  What a blessing to have God protect me and guide me growing up!  Now that I have children, I definitely pleased that they have accepted Jesus at an early age!

 During my college years, I met David at a local church.  We were best friends first which gave us a strong foundation for our marriage.  While we were dating, David gave me the “Jungle Pilot” book to read telling me that this was He felt God calling him to be a missionary pilot.  Now think about it, in the book the pilot dies leaving his young wife with babies in the jungle.  Wouldn’t you want to run and marry him? 

 I never felt a call to Africa or into missions, but I did tell God that I would go wherever He would call me – in this case wherever he would call my new husband.

 Josh 1:9  “Be strong and courageous, Do not be afraid, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

 The first place that He had us go was to Fort Worth, TX where David became an aerospace engineer.  And we had a plan!

 Prov. 16:9 says “The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”

 Our original plan was to work about 5 years, David would build flight time and then join MAF.  But God directed our steps and we were in Texas for 17 years and had our 2 children, Suzanne and John David.  We travelled overseas for work and missions until God opened the doors for us to join MAF in 2004.

Why did you choose DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo)?

We told MAF we would go where ever they needed us so they assigned us to DR Congo, in the capital city of Kinshasa.  We went to France to learn French and then to Congo in 2006.

David, What did you do mainly at that time?

Every day we went to our base at the airport in Kinshasa where we flew the small airplanes into the small villages.  We had five airplanes from 4-seats to 10-seats.  The days that I wasn’t scheduled to fly I worked on maintenance of the airplanes as I am a mechanic also.

Tell us the difficult moments – Flight, urgent moments, shame moment etc—

The flying can be challenging because of weather and the long distances, so planning was important.  There is also so much need and hardship of the people but it’s impossible to help everyone you meet.

Were there miraculous moments in your flight?

There was one memorable flight on 5 June 2007.  We had a call from an isolated village clinic that they urgently needed medicine for a little girl but the weather was not good because of clouds and light rain.  I picked up the medicines anyway and prayed all the way there for God to hold off the rain and clouds, the clouds seem to pull away as I flew!  It was exciting to hear the missionary on the ground call on the radio “I hear you” just about the same time that I saw the airstrip next to a river!

Sandy Francis’ singing.

“How Great Thou Art” Carl Boberg, who had recently quit his job as a sailor to be a pastor, wrote the words when he was walking and a thunderstorm started. After the storm, everything was calm and peaceful and he heard the church bell ring.  With God through the storms of lives, we can know He is in control and have that peace.   It has been translated, sung, and loved in many languages all over the world.  What a reminder what a great God we serve!

How does your organization MAF get support?

MAF raises funds in 3 major ways; 1) the headquarters in the US seeks major funding to buy the airplanes and repair parts, 2) each program like ours in Congo charges some money for the operating cost of the flights like fuel and landing taxes, and 3) each MAF missionary family has to raise their own support team for their living expenses like salary, health insurance and kids education.

Do you have your favorite bible passages giving you an energy for your living?

David: Phil 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

 Sandy: Jer 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Last, do you have some words to want to talk Korean Christian listeners?

Please pray for missionaries and if you don’t personally support one, go find one through your church or an organization like MAF.  Even if you can’t support them financially, you can pray and write letters or emails of encouragement.  Consider going yourself, God can use you no matter what your spiritual gifts!

We will pray for you. What are your prayer needs these days?

Continue praying for Congo because of the current political unrest and violence.  Our daughter and her husband are there in Kinshasa.

Closing comments by Program Director.

 We don’t know yet what connections this broadcast might make, and may never know this side of heaven!  We have been truly blessed to make these new connections and new friends in South Korea and are looking forward to more connections as God prepares our path ahead.  Pray for us to be faithful when these opportunities come along, that we will recognize them and are ready with Spirit filled words at the right time!

Kansas Aviation Day

Last fall, I contacted a fellow pilot/mechanic to inquire about the dates of the 2018 Kansas Air Tour.  The Women’s Air Race Classic is out of both my and my Aircoupe’s league, so this sounded like a good alternative.  Kansas is my home state and I love chasing the horizons on the prairie.  The Air Tour is one of the annual events the Kansas Commission on Aviation Education (KCAE) organizes.  It just happened the committee was planning to meet the following week in a nearby town and Spence is a member so he invited me to come along.  Why not?  It involved aviation!

The KCAE, was established by Executive Order of  Kansas Governor Andrew Scheoppel in 1945. The mission of the private, non-profit organization is to develop and encourage educational and vocational programs that promote the aviation industry in Kansas to young students.  It is a registered Kansas not-for-profit corporation and works in concert with the Kansas DOT Aviation Division.  The meeting discussed 2018 proposed activities, as well as the scholarship fund for the year.  When the Kansas Aviation Day at the State Capitol in Topeka came up, my ears perked up:  an opportunity for the MAF message?  hummmmm…

Kansas Aviation Day is an annual event held at the Capitol Building in Topeka. It is a gathering of Kansas legislators, aviation manufacturers, suppliers, organizations and businesses of all sizes.  The purpose is to highlight the economic impact of aviation in Kansas on the State – currently over $20.6 Billion (yes that is a big number!).  Since MAF’s fleet is made up of a lot of Wichita built aircraft, I asked at the meeting if MAF fit the criteria for the event.  I was assured with the longtime connection to Cessna and Beechcraft,  MAF would be welcome.

I discussed it with my fellow Advocate Wing members and found MAF had indeed been at previous Aviation Days.  So we sent in the application, and I headed to Topeka for the March 1 event.  The display was erected, materials laid out and a computer set up with continuous MAF videos playing.  I used an “elevator pitch” to respond to the question, “what is MAF?” using the mission statement to  “Share the love of Jesus Christ through aviation and technology so that isolated people may be physically and spiritually transformed” then adding, “we are here today is to demonstrate another way in which Kansas built aircraft are used around the world”.

This year, 42 exhibitors attended ranging from the military to schools to the NBAA.  Of course, Textron (Cessna and Beechcraft) and Bombardier (Learjet) were there as well.  Many other non-profits were represented including Kansas Pilots for Christ, the EAA, and the Kansas Aviation Museum.  It was the largest turnout of both exhibitors and visitors.  Visitors included students on school tours, legislative staff, state representatives, other visitors touring the capitol.

MAF booth at Kansas Aviation Day

Of those I spoke with, there were many who were not aware of MAF, allowing materials to be shared and contacts made.  Yet, the thing that stood out to me as a new Advocate, was the number of people who knew of MAF, had family or friends who had or were working with MAF or at least knew of the story of its beginnings.  The admiration for the work this organization does is deep and wide in Kansas.  State legislators stopped to say thank you.  There was even a person who had just that week heard one of our pre-field pilots speak and was visibly excited about the MAF mission.

Between this, and my recent trip to the Sentani base in Indonesia, the generational scope of MAF continues to shine.  Like on a multi-generational farm or ranch, plowing, sowing and harvesting continue but now those who have been “raised on the farm” are joining in along with us new folks.  We are privileged to build on the wisdom, experience and legacy of those who have gone before.  I am honored to be a witness and co-laborer.

By Nancy Cullen

Advocate in Wichita, KS

The Old Becomes New

We live in a world today that in essence, is driven by electronic means. Everything is electronic: electronic maps, electronic books, even our Bibles are electronic, and pastors are increasingly using iPads and the like for their sermon notes; yes, paper is a thing of the past. At work, we have completely removed all paper technical manuals and have gone paperless. Access to the technical manuals, service bulletins, work instructions, etc. is now all web-based. Oh sure, most will call it a quality of life upgrade as the new technology is here. “…and knowledge shall be increased.” (Daniel 12:4)  Others still will say \ we are saving the planet by our decreased usage of paper and even going completely paperless in some areas. “Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit, wherein I dwell…” (Numbers 35:34) But is it truly an upgrade and are we really saving the planet?

After many discussions with our daughter Rebecca, we found she is fully integrated into the electronic age: Google Maps and GPS, Facebook, Amazon Kindle, all at her fingertips with her device. She started out as an avid reader of hardcover books from the library. That time passed when she entered the world of electronics to compete with the rest of her peers. But what if the battery on a given device gets too low? What if the power goes out? What if the GPS loses its signal? Can she read a paper road map or comprehend a compass? When the power went out in our neighborhood for a period of time which exceeded the life of Rebecca’s cell phone flashlight and all the other rechargeable lights around the house, guess what was around to save the day, or in this case, the night? Yesterday’s oil lamps and candles.

Where am I going with this? Well, as MAF Advocates, we are out in the world sharing the MAF story and sharing the love of Jesus Christ, and we do it through any and all personal interactions, group settings and all forms of today’s media. We look for opportunities and openings utilizing the technology of today, but have we forgotten about yesterday? There is ample opportunity in yesterday’s medium such as newspaper or magazine ads, posters, radio interviews which has happened a couple times recently; billboard signs and something as simple as a telephone book listing and ad.

Wichita is home to a regionally published Christian Business directory or telephone book, which has accepted our request for MAF’s phone number placement and ad. Just another way to get the word out, by using yesterday’s old as today’s new. Yesterday’s old is just as pertinent today as it was back then, and it provides a forgotten, yet wide open field for us. It is a new medium for us to let people know who we are, where we can be reached and most important of all, who we work for, Christ Himself.

And to answer Rebecca’s question, “well, what happens when your old compass fails?”  Then we have reached the end of the age; the earth’s magnetic poles have shifted or completely disappeared, the planet is toast and Jesus is on His way, so rejoice!

By Advocate Todd Wolfe

Wichita, KS

Sun n’ Fun – An Advocate’s Experience

I would surmise most Advocates have very little experience within church outreach ministry.  Before being an Advocate, I certainly didn’t.  Having worked in sales, I’ve been accustomed to rejection and disappointment.  But the past few years have taken a serious toll and recently I have, sadly, wanted to call it quits.  In January, I received an inquiry about participating at Sun n’ Fun.  Initially, I thought, “how can I do this when right now I want to quit?”  After spending much time in prayer and in the Word, I came to the conclusion, “what else am I going to do with my time, as I am semi-retired? Besides I love being around MAF.”  So reluctantly I accepted.  A few weeks later, I read an email requesting Advocates attending Sun n’ Fun be videoed for the Advocate Summit answering the question “WHY”.  For me there was no way I could respond…

Sun n’ Fun came packed with challenges.  I left at 6 am to get to the San Jose Airport.  Not having traveled through this airport, I inadvertently parked my car in short-term parking ($22 a day).  In a connection stop in Denver, Alexis was to be on my flight to Tampa.  Airline difficulties caused her to miss the flight, so I proceeded alone. I landed in Tampa at 5:30 pm and was blessed as someone was there from MASAFL with a car for us to use.  Due to his schedule, he wanted to take me to his house in St. Petersburg; give me the car keys and have me pick up Alexis at 11:15 pm.   I have never set foot in either of these towns.  My time was blessed as I spent hours at the Tampa airport reading Hudson Taylor’s “Spiritual Secret”, a great missions book.

Now I am not going to bore you with all the other challenges or trials as there were many.  Instead I wish to focus on how I was blessed.  The host couple I stayed with were up when I first arrived after midnight.  The entire time I was there they were truly a blessing and such godly people.  The first morning of attendance was set-up day and all hands were on deck.  Not just MAF people, but also those working the other missions organizations (JAARS, Agape, Ethnos 360 and several others; including MASAFL who supported all these agencies).  Set-up can be quite challenging but many hands working together makes success easy to accomplish.  What I also observed was how each of the other organizations worked to assist each other.  Tools, parts, cleaning tools, ladders, physical assistance were all shared.

The body of Christ was functioning like nothing I had ever seen.  This scene existed at every function I attended whether it was the various meals hosted at the MASAFL tent provided by local churches where everyone intermingled like a large family gathering or Monday evening when I attended an opening night dinner hosted by Victory Church, with everyone including all the various host families, volunteer members from MASAFL, mission agency attendees as well as members of the local congregation ate.  To say I was awed would be an understatement.

Activities the next day, as we started Sun n’ Fun, were an incredible boost. Countless interested people worked their way through first visiting each agency’s airplane and then stopping by the various displays or trying out the flight simulator.  The Lord’s presence was all around and many were blessed. In leaving Sun N Fun, I felt as if God had just plugged me back in.  I was ready to re-engage my role as an MAF Advocate.  If you are experiencing doubt or feeling discouraged I encourage everyone to come to the table.  Come to the June Summit and be prepared to be recharged.

 

 

Mission to Serve: Haiti

Consider joining us October 19-26, 2018, for a Mission to Serve the MAF program in Port au Prince, Haiti!

Mission to Serve: Haiti is a unique opportunity for volunteers, advocates and pastors to get a true feel for the culture and people of Haiti while serving the MAF staff and program. Gain valuable insight into the conditions, challenges and opportunities MAF Haiti is currently facing.

To learn more and reserve your seat for this unforgettable opportunity to bless the MAF team in Haiti, visit Mission to Serve: Haiti.