The start of construction on the MAF Family Center has begun! The official groundbreaking took place on October 29th. This facility will be a multi-purpose building for our staff and families in training, who may live on campus for up to three months. It will provide a children’s center, library/study, exercise/fitness room and gathering areas for coffee, meals and fellowship. The Lord provided all the funding for this new building earlier in the year, but it has taken a few months to get building permits and plan approvals in place. Thankfully, construction can start now with a completion date in May 2020.
October has been a disappointing month weather-wise in Kansas. Fall, specifically October and November, is usually is filled with color and calm days, great for flying and outdoor project wrap up. This season’s weather has been pocked with several cold snaps that kept us fighting to get things done. It has almost had a breathless feeling about it.
I am not fond of being “pushed” by the weather or anything else for that matter. I prefer being led, and endeavor to let the Holy Spirit do so, but even in that, we have an adversary and “the resistance” that fusses with the flow of things seems ever-present. Time for a mind shift.
That is when I ramp up my focus on the Word, Jesus, and His voice. One way I do this is by watching MAF videos. Aside from the excellence in which they are done (and they are), they pull me out of the pressure of the moment into a much wider and bigger place. A Kingdom place. A place where lives, families, villages, even countries are being changed.
Countries! In reading about some of the program changes, I was surprised at the reason: several areas ministered to by MAF have outgrown their need for the ministry we offer. Wow.
- Isolated people have come out of isolation.
- The church is healthy and can continue.
- Roads have been built.
- People can read.
- Medical help is available through other avenues.
And MAF was a part of that. I know it is not easy letting go. There is a major disruption to those who have poured heart and soul into these places. But this transition is healthy. Kids grow up. They graduate and move out. In this case, MAF is the one moving out, but the image is similar. So, advocates, pray for these transitions:
For wisdom as moves are made
For a fresh vision for those who are moving out
For the indigenous church to thrive
As I let go of the autumn season’s shortfalls, and head into the Holidays, I am grateful to be a part of what the Lord is doing throughout the earth through MAF. Happy Holidays!
By Nancy Cullen, Advocate in Wichita, Kansas
I find it beyond wonderful that Jesus’ birth announcement went out to the Shepherds. It appears in Luke’s record of Jesus’ birth. The announcement did not go out first to the powerful, to the ruling elite, to the rich, beautiful, or gifted. Instead – it went out to shepherds – the very bottom of the societal ladder. Yet, it is to this rough bunch that the heavenly host appears with an announcement that can hardly be believed. “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you’.”
Jethro listened to the night as he stood silently on watch. The crickets were singing as usual, and some of the sheep in the flock were grazing with a few calling once in a while to their lambs and the lambs calling back. These were the normal night sounds of a flock, and Jethro knew them well.
Tonight he was not only watching over his flock, but he was also watching over the flocks of the other shepherds gathered around the campfire in the bowl-like depression below him. Jethro was still a young man, but he had earned the responsibility he carried on his shoulders this evening. For seven years he had worked with the men who sat about the fire below, and for seven years he had profited from the patient knowledge of these men. In turn, he had slowly earned their respect as he went about his duties by day and watches at night without complaint. As his flock had increased he had been able to begin selling a small portion of that increase. Without the help of those below him, his start as a shepherd would have taken much longer. Although they were only shepherds, Jethro owed them much.
Five flocks were gathered together this evening. For two days, they had grazed the hillsides to the south, but tomorrow they would move farther to the eastern hills. There was good grazing there according to Daniel, who had gone to look yesterday. He had only returned late in the evening; and because of the length of the trek, he had not spoken until this morning. Jethro had been on the middle watch that evening and had actually been a little startled by the silent Daniel who had appeared out of the darkness and cast himself down on the ground to fall asleep almost immediately. It had not been until the following morning that he had told the other shepherds and Jethro about the excellent grass he had found on their eastern flank. Tomorrow they would begin their move toward that new ground.
Jethro moved a few yards to the west. The sheep were very quiet tonight. Actually, the sheep were never totally quiet. In a small flock or large, there were always animals that were grazing and calling to one another. But on this night, there were very few on their feet and moving about to feed. It made for an easier watch. Fewer movements to catch your eye meant less walking about to make sure there was no predator. But even as Jethro watched, one by one, the last stragglers knelt down to chew their cud. Jethro could count on one hand the few times he had ever seen a flock totally at rest. It was just not very common, but it was noteworthy when it happened.
The quiet increased as the sheep contentedly lay about him. Then, as if that very quiet had been commanded, a silence fell about the flock. Jethro sharpened his watch, but there was nothing to see. Even the breeze dropped off. The stars overhead seemed to take on a new luster against the night sky, but Jethro noted that the moon had not yet risen. Silence like this almost always was the harbinger of trouble, change, something new on the wind. Yet nowhere in the sea of wool before him did he see or sense trouble, only – the silence. Even the crickets had stopped their chirping. Jethro found himself holding his breath in expectation of – he knew not what!
Then – a glow illuminated the small depression where they camped. At first, Jethro hardly noticed it, but in a mere second, it touched every corner and enveloped them all. Indeed, it seemed to cling to their clothes and outline each person present. Jethro cried out a warning and those by the fire quickly awakened the shepherds already asleep. Great fear and awe swept over them all.
Immediately, a figure appeared in their midst, a tall figure with wings furled, and the radiance that surrounded him set the entire clearing ablaze. It was both wonderful and terrifying at the same time. Several of the men cringed and fell on their faces crying out in terror. And then – then the angel spoke, “Do not be afraid. For I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
And then, a wonder of wonders, suddenly the night sky lit up with the Glory of the Lord. From horizon to horizon it – it just exploded, and a great company of the heavenly host was suddenly revealed, and they filled the sky to bursting with rank upon rank upon rank of angelic beings! And they spoke saying the wonderful message over and over again, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” And their words were the words of men, but their speech held more than music. It was the melody of heaven itself, beyond the mere announcement, beyond beauty, beyond glory. And it echoed and echoed again in Jethro’s heart as it repeated itself over and over. But even as Jethro was swept away by the wonder, that great joy that accompanied the words spoken broke out on each man’s face. It overcame them all so that they could not stop smiling as its very beauty and meaning overcame them and their hearts sang with a joy that was unexplainable.
And then the angels were no more, and the Glory of the Lord that had shone around the shepherds and even through them – it faded. But the presence of heaven that had shown itself before them continued to reverberate in their hearts. That holiness, that righteousness of the heavenly host, the angelic joy that had filled the night sky, it remained – almost physical. As one they stood, still gazing up at the stars overhead for long moments, still totally enthralled.
And then a young shepherd, a boy actually and the youngest son of Jason broke the silence. And in his joyful enthusiasm, he cried out, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has told us about.” And immediately voices from around the camp echoed in agreement. Quickly they broke camp and hurried off for each knew that Bethlehem was just a short distance away, just beyond the horizon.
In later years Jethro never lost the wonder of that evening. For as they approached the stable, again he experienced the very presence of heaven in his heart. Its rightness – it touched them all as they gazed at the scene. For it was just as they had been told. The babe lay in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and his mother – Mary – listened in quiet attention as they spoke of the angelic announcement which had drawn them to the stable. And Mary’s husband Joseph, quietly thanked them for their praise of God over the birth of the child.
Jethro had gazed at the child in rapt wonder, such a dark-haired surprise! And even as he looked at the sleeping bundle, the child quietly awakened and Mary gathered him into her arms. Jesus – that was what they were told his name was. And as Jethro watched, the baby looked at him, met his eyes, and Jethro extended his work-roughened little finger. The baby, Jesus, reached out through the swaddling clothes which Mary had loosed and grasped it. Even in later years, Jethro had no words for that moment in time. He seldom re-told it, but on those rare occasions when he did, those who listened were struck with amazement at the glow of joy the shone from his weathered face.
And Jethro remembered how they had told all they encountered that night of what the angels had told them. And all they told were amazed. And slowly, reluctantly even, they had withdrawn from the stable yard and returned to their flocks in the field, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen – for the joy that was almost beyond grasping, for the message that was for all people, “A Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”
By Advocate Paul Gibson
HOW TO HELP WHEN YOU FEEL HELPLESS
My stomach churned as I scrolled through Facebook, watching a video of dark water flowing through streets and destroying buildings and bridges. My friends in Papua, Indonesia posted social media updates on deadly floods that hit after nights of heavy rain. I was deeply saddened and shocked to see photos of a familiar place rendered unfamiliar. So many people—including people I know—lost their homes and loved ones.
This year has been particularly difficult and uneasy for the Indonesian province of Papua. Massive flash floods, earthquakes, landslides, political unrest, rioting, and all the usual issues—sickness, poverty, lack of education—plague the island in a seemingly never-ending wave of hardship.
Meanwhile, I sit in my peaceful dorm room in downtown Chicago, feeling so very distant from Papua, the place where I grew up and called home. I get messages from my friends who still live in Indonesia, I read the latest news reporting on the various dilemmas Papuans faces, and I’m conflicted. I don’t know what to do.
I feel guilty for being in America, in a relatively safe and comfortable setting, gaining a wonderful education while my Papuan community struggles to survive halfway across the world. Helplessness looms over me as I wonder, “What can I even do to help? I’m not physically there; I can’t help with flood relief efforts; I can’t relate to the people who are terrified through all the rioting. I can’t actively serve in the way my friends who work with MAF in Papua can.”
It’s true – I can’t physically be there, but God is teaching me to be present in prayer. Though I’m sometimes tempted to believe prayer isn’t as powerful as it is, God hears. He hears our cries for justice and peace to reign, for physical calamities to cease, for families to be reunited in the chaos.
And so I pray. I pray for my jungle home, for the broken and beautiful place that is Papua. I pray our Lord Jesus will somehow work good through the horridness.
No matter where we are in the world, we must remember to lift up our brothers and sisters around the globe through bold prayer. We may not have the capacity to physically be in the same place as those who are hurting and oppressed, but we can still pray, send financial help, and encourage those seeking to make things right again.
As I go to classes and stroll down the streets of chilly Chicago, my mind drifts back to my friends in Papua and the many tragedies afflicting that rugged, remote island. I could let hopelessness overtake me, but instead I am thankful the same God who hears my prayers in America is the One who moves and comforts in Indonesia. He is the same God who calmed the storms on the Sea of Galilee, the same God who empowers us to serve courageously, the same God who will make all things new and “wipe every tear from their eyes.”
By Grace Holsten
In the September issue of the Connect, Advocate Bill Koss recapped Experience MAF: Chicago. Bill championed this event from the beginning. As his article reports, Bill started over a year before the event making contacts to ensure it’s a success. A success it was! I encourage you to check out his article. (If you missed it, HERE is Bill’s article)
Have you thought about hosting an Experience MAF event in your area?
As the MAF Events department looks to the future, we hope to continue to partner with Advocates in this way. We want to equip you to host an event to not only encourage you in your advocate ministry but also to raise awareness and engagement with MAF in your community.
Here are two things to consider to get the ball rolling:
- WHO – Who would you invite? What connections are you building that would be interested in learning more about MAF? What new connections can you make?
- WHERE – Where would you host the event? Is there a publicly accessible airport or airstrip near you? Do you have connections with a local FBO or private hangar? Are there accessible bathrooms and parking?
If you have answers to these questions, let’s talk! If you don’t, now you know where to start!
In the coming months, we will be publishing an Experience MAF Event Template. This template will assist in the event planning process and clearly outline your responsibility as the Advocate and the responsibility of HQ, as well as a timeline for everything from securing food for the event to marketing materials distribution.
By Alexis Adams, Events Manager
I find it fascinating how the Lord directs my attention in my work as a MAF Advocate. I always assume this direction is first and foremost a prayer assignment and I take it as such. Recently it has been Myanmar. It was through the weekly MAF Prayer Points I became aware of the MAF project in that country.
My knowledge of this country is minimal. I know a great Uncle was posted there during WWII when it was Burma. He was a part of the US Army Quartermaster (https://qmmuseum.lee.army.mil/WWII/mules_of_mars.htm) who used mules to move supplies. He told great stories about his adventures.
One of my air traffic colleagues made a short term missionary trip in the 1980s to (then) Burma. Then there is a missionary friend who made a trip to Chin Provence around 2005. Now, MAF-I is partnering with other like-minded people in building an airport. There is a project page on Facebook with great information. (Click HERE to view it!)
Then this week, I was reading the September Voice of the Martyrs magazine and an article about the early missionary days in Burma, now Myanmar, appeared.
“A Perilous Proposal” outlined the life of Adoniram Judson and his proposal to Ann Hasseltine in 1810. A letter to her father asking for her hand in marriage read:
“I have now to ask whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in the world; whether you can consent to her departure to a heathen land and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life; whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean, the the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death? Can you consent to all this, for the sake of Him who left His heavenly home and died for her and for you, for the sake of perishing, immoral souls for the sake of Zion and the Glory of God?”
Goodness! The article goes on to document their work in bible translation and hardships in living among the Burmese people. (I tried to find a link to the article, to no avail). It is quite sobering.
As I pondered the bit of information I have on the MAF Myanmar project, I realized this project is yet another step in the persistent love of Father to isolated people. Just as His heart called the early British missionaries, so He continues to call. He sees these people and loves them. We are a part of Him seeing and responding.
This is, organizationally, a MAF-I project through MAF UK relationships, but MAF US is supporting as we are called upon. We are one Body, working to the advancement of His work, His heart of Love.
By Advocate Nancy Cullen, Wichita, KS
Matthew and Carolyn Monson serve as Program Manager for the MAF Lesotho program. They shared in their recent prayer letter:
Amazing things can happen when you say “yes!” to God. For years we watched patients struggle when a flight was cancelled or delayed. Sick, tired and traveling long distances was worsened by the fact the patients could not return to the hospital and were forced to sleep outside without food. Some of our staff tried to help when they were at the hangar, but we knew we could do more. After prayer and searching, God led us to a solution. Only two minutes from the airport was a small apartment we converted into a patient house. After some repair, cleaning, painting, furnishing and providing food, the house was a great place for the patients to rest and be cared for.
Already blessed by the physical relief and with time we can now spend sharing the Gospel with our hurting patients, we didn’t realize God had more planned! Although we serve the Ministry of Health, we have never been graced with a visit from the Minister. The Minister heard of the patient house and he unexpectedly requested to hold a press conference and thank us for our initiative. The time spent with all the officials and media was incredible. We were able to share our love for the Basotho that flows from Christ. May God use this meeting as a large building bloc for the future of MAF in Lesotho, all because we said “yes” to the Lord.
MAF Advocates, did you know there are video clips easily accessible and available to use as you share MAF at events or on social media?
Go to: hub.maf.org and click on VIDEO or here is a quicker link: https://hub.maf.org/category/video
You will also find great stories you can share in your ministry opportunities!
We’d like to hear from you—which one do you like best?
Which one do you use most to effectively share the message of MAF?
By – Dina Parris
ADVOCATE WING SOUTHERN REGIONAL MANAGER
My husband, Josh, and I always had the desire to go on a mission trip. We had talked about it for years and how his electrical experience could be a good fit, but never really had the right opportunity to present itself, enabling us to get involved. Now that I work at MAF, the door of opportunity is larger than I ever imagined possible. As soon as I heard Alexis share in chapel about Mission2Serve I knew I was going. I talked with Josh and couldn’t wait to sign up for the trip. I heard we would be going to Ecuador and I knew it was meant to be. My good friend Joanna was the one who led me to MAF initially and her family will be moving to Ecuador to serve with MAF! I just knew this was exactly what I was supposed to be doing… then I got word the trip had been delayed until the following year. NOOOO! I was so excited, ready to go, eager to do God’s work. I was disappointed but thought the timing must not be right.
Alexis asked me to go to Haiti instead. I didn’t feel a connection to the Haiti trip like I had with Ecuador, so I wasn’t sure that’s where God wanted me. I prayed, talked to Josh about it, and waited, not feeling 100% sure. Then I asked Alexis “what are the needs for this trip?” and when she responded saying they needed an electrician I knew we had to sign up. I was worried because we decided late in the process and didn’t have as much time to raise funds to go. I decided it was in God’s hands, I would do my best to raise the funds and prayed it would all come together. By the grace of God, He showed favor and quickly blessed us with full funding. I am still in awe of how it all worked out. I tell you this part of the journey because it’s easy to be discouraged when things don’t go as you have planned, but remember God’s plan is far better than your own!
So we were off! We headed to Haiti on September 20, 2019! We didn’t exactly have the smoothest time getting there, several flight delays and a missed connection flight, but we rolled with the delays and eventually made it safely to Haiti. At the Miami airport, we had the privilege of meeting two different teams of people traveling to Haiti. They told us they loved MAF and how we make it possible for them to travel to remote locations quickly and safely so they can help people. It was amazing to see how MAF was impacting people even before arriving in Haiti!
I want you to understand the experience I had was so different than what I had expected and completely outside my normal self. God provided me with amazing peace and tranquility throughout the entire trip, despite the unrest that was prevalent. From the moment we landed in Haiti, it was clear the city was in turmoil. There were riots and protests during our entire stay. Roads were blocked with tire fires, there were gunshots, protests, people throwing rocks, but through it all God provided. He cleared paths and provided safety for us getting to and from our needed locations. And yet despite that, we were able to complete the work we went there to do. We had a team of 7 people and stuck together closely for the entire trip. We were able to really get to know each other, pray, work, eat, and my favorite of course.. laugh together! I was so moved by each person we encountered, whether it was a MAF staff or family members or a Haitian resident, I enjoyed each conversation as it shed new light and perspective of Haiti and what MAF is accomplishing. There is no one specific moment that changed me, but rather the combined experience of each day and each encounter has had a lasting impact.
At a church service we attended, a lesson was given during the Sunday School portion of the service. To see people respond with such passion and excitement to know God and understand the Bible was refreshing and inspiring. I loved the questions they asked and their desire to know more. When we were working, we met a neighbor. He was very friendly and would come out each day to say hello to us. He always had a huge smile and seemed happy to see us. A man at the Hangar who had such sadness describing their leader and turmoil in their country, jumped with joy shouting “praise God” when I pointed to the sky and told him we have only one leader and He has you covered. He almost knocked me over with his excitement and love for Jesus. I could go on and on, but I will end this story with this…
The world we live in will always have turmoil. There will always be riots, protests, and roadblocks along the way. The good news is we will also always have God to lead, guide, and use us for His work. It’s a privilege and honor to serve with MAF and now I can say from experience we truly are sharing the love of Jesus Christ through aviation and technology so that isolated people may be physically and spiritually transformed.
By Katie Moen, MAF Print Shop Coordinator
A wise MAF missionary once shared with me, “Blessed are the flexible, for they will not be bent out of shape”. This has proved true time and time again, especially with the Haiti Hangar Project.
In mid-September, the hangar door arrived at the port in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Praise God! Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, it is still sitting at the port. Increasing unrest in the country has caused delay after delay in moving the hangar door from the port to the MAF hangar.
A few weeks before the Mission2Serve team was scheduled to depart for Haiti, we received word the hangar door would not be ready for installation. We went back to the drawing board and decided it best to split into two teams: Team One would continue on as scheduled to complete other projects and Team Two would wait for confirmation the hangar door was ready.
Team One arrived in Haiti on September 21 and had a most excellent adventure! Advocates Mark Turpin and Marv Brown arrived a few days ahead of the team to prepare the projects. Our main focus was a non-operational MAF guest house in need of some TLC. Advocate Scott Schoonmaker, MAF Canada Development Officer Ed Voth, MAF-US Print Shop Coordinator Katie Moen and I cleaned, scrubbed, and painted our little hearts out. Because of the unrest in the country, it was difficult to move around the city. Most often our team stayed in place at the MAF guest house. Josh Moen, Katie’s husband and journeyman electrician, was able to spend a few days at the MAF hangar preparing the electrical wiring for the hangar door. One morning the entire team made it to the MAF hangar for a quick peek before collecting food and supplies to spend the day with David and Erin Simon in anticipation of increased protests.
Our team returned to the US on September 28, and even though we weren’t able to complete the project we had hoped, we were encouraged by the sacrifices our MAF families make to serve in the hard places in this world. We were able to spend time with each family during our visit which was by far the best part of our time there.
Team Two is still on hold. Please be in fervent prayer for the country of Haiti and the safety of our staff. Before the hangar door is released, paperwork needs to be processed. Often times, customs workers are not able to make it to their office due to roadblocks and protests. Once the paperwork is processed the container with the hangar door needs moved a short distance from the port to the MAF hangar. The last update I received is the short distance is currently unsafe to travel.
We trust God is in control and will continue to grow us in flexibility.
By Alexis Adams, Events Manager