I recently got to see the movie Ends of the Earth. It is a film produced by and about Mission Aviation Fellowship; it tells their story in the context of assisting Ethnos360 church planters. In the end, the Wano people are able to do outreaches because of the aviation support provided by MAF. It’s a story of the whole body of Christ working together so that all might hear the Good News. (And it gives a glimpse into a place very similar to where I serve as a support missionary.) If you get to see it, you’ll be both encouraged and challenged.
The following account is another engaging story of how aviation and missions are intertwined. It was written by Summer Zimmer, of NTM PNG Communications, about a tribe in PNG.
Long before missionaries moved into Mibu in 2002, somewhere around the summer of 1989, the Mibu people developed a vision for building an airstrip in their mountainous region. They had a desire to market the coffee and oranges they grew. In the beginning, they used digging sticks and bamboo stretchers to haul dirt away. Eventually, the government provided shovels and wheelbarrows. In those beginning stages, the work would stall without organization or leadership.
During this time, the missionaries flew in and out of Mibu using a helicopter or hiked 12-18 hours in from neighboring airstrips. The first church in Mibu was born in March 2006 and has multiplied to 12 churches with two active outreaches. As the leaders of the church began to imagine how an airstrip would benefit the church financially, in emergencies and for ministry travel, they took ownership of the airstrip project, transforming the landscape by hand. They also prayed for their efforts to complete the airstrip. Those outside the church mocked their efforts and found their prayers to be silly.
However, this past year, the airstrip project made great strides through the addition of geogrid and drainage pipe to strengthen the surface. Rural Aviation Agency, a subsidiary of Missionary Aviation Fellowship, was able to advise and lend a crew with compacting equipment. Finally, on October 14, 2021, the Mibus were able to rejoice in their accomplishment and God’s response to their prayers as a plane successfully landed in Mibu! Ten villages in the area will benefit from the airstrip, not only in exporting market items, but also in receiving needed medical supplies and being able to get people out of the mountainous region to receive emergency medical care. Many of the people throughout the area who have seen God’s intervention are now interested in hearing about this God that the Mibus love.