Mud On Faces, Joy in Hearts!

Aviation makes an unprecedented gathering possible

Pilots landing on bush strips know it’s not unusual to get mud on an airplane. But on their faces? As pilots Brent Haberchak, Brad Richert and Andrew Smith flew leaders from 15 people groups to the YembiYembi location, they got plenty of mud on the Kodiaks — and the traditional “mud-on-the-face” YembiYembi greeting!

Mud is part of life in Papua New Guinea, especially in the lowlands around the Sepik River. Mud means wet – and wet means lots of rain, lots of rivers, and treacherous travel. “The rough terrain and river system make it nearly impossible for all of the church leaders to come together for a conference,” says Tim Shontere, YembiYembi church planter turned church development leader. “It is so difficult and expensive that we have never brought all the Sepik church leaders together in one place since we started planting churches 50 years ago.”
“But God is in the business of building up His church.”

“The YembiYembi church had a dream,” continues Tim, “of bringing all of the [Sepik] leaders together for a workshop/conference to be able to network with each other and sit under teaching together.”

The obstacles to such an unprecedented gathering only provided fuel for the fire of the YembiYembi believers trust in God. Location? No problem. They trusted God to help them host the conference and provide meals for everyone — which in the end included 100 extra people who showed up unexpectedly in canoes!

What about the transportation obstacle? Trust God to provide affordable aviation! And when rain threatened to make the airstrip unusable, Tim wrote email messages asking people to petition God for a dry (or at least not too muddy) YembiYembi airstrip to land on!

“God used Ethnos360 Aviation to bring leaders from the different corners of the Sepik Region so that all the church leaders could come together in one place for the first time.” National church leaders from strong churches in the West New Britain Island came and spoke at the conference,” wrote Tim. So did two missionaries, who taught on marriage, family and leadership.

“God punched all of our stomachs with His truth,” said one man.

As the people heard teaching, they compared their lives to it, using their cultural idioms. This man went on to say, “We have failed in some areas as church leaders, but now we have been given God’s talk to straighten us out again. … True, it gave strength to our stomachs.”

Soaking up the fellowship and good messages, the conference goers realized the benefit of air service in facilitating this historic gathering. As one man prayed,

“Thank you, God, for the [Ethnos360 Aviation] plane. “If they didn’t fly those far away leaders into here, how would they come? No way. They would not be here for the leadership conference.”

Another reveled in the joy of face-to-face fellowship: “We got to see everyone’s face for the first time. …. We hear them on the radio, but we never saw them. … We are one team for God. … We are doing the same work but doing it on different places on this ground.”

God uses aviation to do what has never been possible or feasible before. But all the aviation tools — and all the generous donations to make it affordable — are useless without pilots, mechanics, avionics technicians, flight schedulers, parts department and finance personnel to make a flight program work.

As part of an aviation team, you could be a part of God’s work in difficult locations — like for this group of believers. Tim summed it up: “It was great to see them network together and be encouraged! … It was a historic event!”

Investigate your mission aviation opportunities today!

Written By: Ethnos360 Aviation