“Change the Ending,” the theme for this year’s MAF Advocate Summit, kicked off on the evening of June 12th and continued through June 13th and 14th at MAF Headquarters in Nampa, Idaho. The first evening and the following two days included presentations from MAF’s HQ staff as well as a variety of live Webinars and videos with missionaries from across the globe.
The presentation in person on the evening of the 12th from Stan and Rhonda Unruh who have been abroad in a wide variety of locations focused on the “Mundane” slogging that “Change(s) the Ending”. Abundant prayer and surprising answers from God, both negative and positive, were parts of their day in/day out. Friendships across culture, and at times high risk were highlights. When asked about a suddenly closed door during MAF’s work in Nepal, Stan simply replied without hesitation God did not want MAF operating fixed-wing aircraft at that time in Nepal. That faith and matter of fact transparency were refreshing.
CEO David Holsten addressed the Advocates on Thursday morning. For a variety of attendees, it was our first live exposure to the new President of MAF. David’s energy and delight in what he does were infectious. I particularly enjoyed hearing a brief synopsis of his meeting with the aircraft executives who are building some of the most heavily used planes in our fleet. Who better qualified to address such an audience about their own product? David’s use of video clips and enthusiasm for their ability to allow people to visualize what we do was encouraging. Visual speaks!
MAF certainly uses some great technology to “Change the Ending.” Alexis Adams’ information on the use of Virtual Reality, MAF’s Oculus Go, at airshows during her Mission2Serve presentation and the inclusion of a brief instruction manual in the Advocate Summit Handbook was cutting edge. (Click HERE to access that handout) Tech Resources’ drone technology from Atalie Snyder and Jonathan Young’s presentation for the mandatory measuring and updating of information required for our remote airstrips was also fun, economical, and good stewardship of time saved.
Director of Ministry Awareness, Mike Snodgrass, focused on the need to feed our souls and to slow down to do it. “Be still and know that I am God,” (Ps.45:10.) and “The Lord will fight for you, you only need to be still,” (Ex.14:14) were two verses Mike asked us to consider. I was reminded of God’s delight in us when we ask Him to go before us. Mike used these passages plus others of Jesus retiring to a solitary place to commune with the Father amid hectic ministry to encourage us to do likewise.
Nearly every session had a live Skype session or video of MAF staff serving overseas. CEO David Holsten’s video with a family serving in a high-risk area talked of security and safe room information. I found the reports from Africa Regional Director, Souleymane Kouyate covering ministry in the DRC, Lesotho, and Mozambique to be of interest, particularly in the face of the multiple cyclones that occurred in the latter two areas earlier this year. Our people are at risk with the continued Ebola outbreaks in the DRC, and how we react to keep families safe was reassuring.
We have Disaster Response people around the world, trained and able to drop their regular ministry areas and respond within 24-48 hours made me proud of MAF. John Woodberry, MAF Disaster Response Manager, detailed the amazing contribution MAF has made to emergency disasters within this last year. Our response time is phenomenal. Often our first on the spot Aerial Assessments spur local governments to gear up with greater speed. Our footage is being picked up by major network news agencies as up to the minute for disaster torn regions.
Ministry Partnership Director Dave Blomberg’s presentation on how “Teachers Change the Ending” reminded us that not all is positive. We have missionary families leaving the field because they cannot obtain a quality education for their children. Our response at the Summit prompted the MAF Teacher Project, an initiative to make Advocates aware of the critical need for teachers and funding for teachers. This need is extreme.
To start each day, we had two different music worship teams made up of MAF headquarters staff. To say they were accomplished is an understatement. Dina Paris and Susan Davis, our Southern and Northern Advocate Regional Managers did great emcee work keeping things moving, but that doesn’t begin to cover the tech crew’s visual and sound work or the background crew that kept us in snacks and meals, and then there are all the excellent presentations that I didn’t mention. Kudo’s to you all for a great MAF Advocate Summit.
By Paul Gibson
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