‘A very, very fulfilling time of ministry’
In that part of the world, where an airstrip rather than a road often runs down the middle of a village, people have great respect and appreciation for the work of pilots, “which is very humbling,” David says. Over the years, more than one baby was named after him.
“That was a very, very fulfilling time of ministry, of being able to see the airplane used as a tool that really could bring life-saving health,” he says. “And that was true physically and spiritually.”
One day David flew boxes of newly printed complete Bibles (Old and New Testament) in the Hupla language to a highland village in Papua. The Hupla people already had the New Testament, but now they had the rest of the story.
“I get excited thinking about what it’s going to be like for them to see God’s story of salvation that begins in Genesis,” he said at the dedication ceremony. The Hupla Bible took 40 years of Bible translation led by a Scottish missionary.
“That was very special to be able to be there,” David says.
Taking the Helm in a New Home
When a vacancy opened for MAF’s next president/CEO, an internal search brought David’s name to the fore. After much prayer, he and Natalie made the decision to leave Indonesia in 2018 and relocate with their children to MAF headquarters in Nampa, Idaho. As they landed with 10 suitcases of all their possessions, bought a home, and sent their kids to American schools for the first time, the transition to Idaho’s vastly different culture and high desert climate was daunting.
“But it’s become a home for us, and every day is a new adventure of learning new things,” he says.
“God has given us one life to live on this earth, and I don’t want to look back on that life with regret. I don’t want to think, That was an unknown, uncertain thing, and I was too afraid to pursue it. My experience at Moody helped to equip me with a deeper understanding of God’s Word and to better live a life without regret.”
In this new season as the leader of a missions organization, David prays that the next generation of men and women will answer the call to serve in difficult places for the sake of the gospel, living a life without regret.
“Mission work is a life of sacrifice,” he explains. “You have to give up relationships in a certain way, certain conveniences and comforts, and you enter into a lot of unknowns. I believe Christ followers need to be challenged to do that.”
God’s Call: As Present Today as Ever
MAF works with 500 Christian and humanitarian organizations worldwide, supporting mission endeavors even in restricted access countries. With 200 missionary staff serving overseas and in the US, the ministry operates 47 light aircraft from 14 bases in eight countries out of Asia, Latin America, Eurasia, and Africa. These planes fly more than two million nautical miles a year in support of indigenous churches and evangelists for a range of needs, including disaster relief, medical care, and community development.
“We operate the only flight school in a southeast Asian country,” David says. “And every student is sitting 18 inches from a Christ-following flight instructor. That’s just one reason why we need mission aviation—so we can continue to do that type of ministry."
“I’m praying that I can be used to stir people’s hearts to look beyond their present environment and consider the situation that others are in and to realize that God’s call for us to go into the world and make disciples is as present today as it’s ever been.”