Thursday, May 15, 2014

How Airplanes DO Make A Difference

     They say a picture speaks a thousand words, but the picture that you see here also cries a thousand tears. At first glance, it’s difficult to tell what you are seeing in this picture, and that’s because what you’re seeing is absolute destruction. Quite possibly the most tragic single event in modern history is the “Boxing Day Tsunami” that happened December 26th, 2004.

     This tsunami happened in the Indian Ocean, and was triggered by one of the most massive earthquakes ever recorded. This generated a series of gigantic tidal waves that in some places were over 100 feet tall. In the span of several hours, over 230,000 people lost their lives to the destructive forces of this tsunami. And for those who survived, life would never be the same.

Epicenter of 2014 "Boxing Day Tsunami"
     While the giant destructive waves hit many countries all around the Indian Ocean, the hardest hit country was the closest country to the epicenter of the earthquake- Indonesia. And the hardest hit province in Indonesia was Aceh.  As you can see in the picture above, nothing is left of what used to be a village. Other than the road, the only man-made object that is recognizable, is the hero of this story - the airplane. The plane you see is from a ministry called Mission Aviation Fellowship (or MAF for short). This plane was stationed in a nearby province of Indonesia, but after the tsunami hit, was quickly and easily relocated to Aceh to help in the relief efforts.

     One of the biggest challenges that the relief organizations faced right away is how to get the relief aid to those who needed it. The roads were either destroyed or completely covered in debris, so ground transportation was not a viable solution for quite some time. However in areas where a small strip of land or road could be cleared, airplanes could easily get in and out to bring food, water, clothes, medical supplies, and other essentials to those who desperately needed it. And this airplane, among many others, stayed for months and flew constantly to provide that aid.

     Quick tidbit of info here - Indonesia has the highest population of Muslims anywhere in the world. The Aceh province has traditionally been a very closed Muslim area of Indonesia - meaning hostile to Christianity. But in the aftermath of the tsunami, the Muslims were not around to help out with the relief efforts. So when the Indonesians looked around and saw that it was the Christian “infidels” that were helping out in their time of need, this helped to open the door to the Gospel in this area. All this because airplanes owned by Christian missionary organizations, flown by Christian missionary pilots were there to show the love of Jesus.

     Fast forward 9 years, and after a long life of ministry, this airplane has seen better days. To the secular world, the airplane is scrap, or at best, good only for spare parts. But a ministry in Coshocton, OH (you guessed it, MMS Aviation) is able to provide service free of labor costs, to get this airplane back to prime operating condition. In June 2013, during my evaluation week, I was able to do some work on this airplane (see 1st pic below). Now after close to a year of servicing and modifications (done by others at MMS), this plane is nearly ready to begin serving in ministry again, and helping to make it possible to share the love of Jesus with those who are so desperate for His love. This is just one example of the type of project I will be able to work on at MMS Aviation, and of the kind of impact that can be made using airplanes to help spread the Gospel. Will you be able to partner with us in this ministry, and help make it possible for me to serve at MMS Aviation? Through your regular financial giving to support us in ministry, this all can be possible!

During my evaluation week last year, I am helping to install
a new wing spar carry-through on this "Tsunami Hero"
This picture was taken 2 weeks ago.  Though it doesn't look like much,
this same airplane is nearly ready to begin serving in ministry again.

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