The Kohers land at Boise Airport in Idaho, US (credit: MAF US)
Last week, a judge lifted travel restrictions and authorised passports to be returned to pilot Ryan Koher and orphanage volunteers Willem du Plessis and Eric Dry, allowing them to finally leave Mozambique
Ryan Koher – a pilot /engineer for MAF partner Ambassador Aviation – has finally returned to his native America with wife Annabel and their two children for an extended break with wider family.
Ryan breathes a sigh of relief:
‘It feels great to be back! A load has been lifted that I didn’t really know I had, but it’s been a really restful time even though it’s been a really busy schedule.
‘It’s just been great to be back and visit everyone at MAF who have been praying for me, and visit our home church here in Idaho. It was great to reconnect with a lot of these people, meet a lot of new people, and to share a little bit about how God’s been working in our lives.’
Ryan Koher – pilot/engineer for Ambassador Aviation
The South African orphanage volunteers Willem du Plessis and Eric Dry, who were also wrongfully detained in Mozambique, have also received their passports and have been granted permission to travel.
Regardless of their newfound freedom, the investigation is still ongoing and the case is yet to be dismissed.
Just before leaving Mozambique, Ryan had been working in Ambassador Aviation’s hangar as an engineer but was not permitted to carry out pilot duties.
Ryan’s lawyer is continuing to monitor the case and is waiting for the prosecutor to conclude the investigation. The Koher family and MAF US have asked for continued prayer for the case to be dropped and for Ryan to be free from any prosecution.
The next deadline for Ryan’s case is in June 2024.
The Kohers reunite at the hangar in Nampula, Mozambique (credit:Jill Holmes)
29 March 2023 – Ryan reunites with his family
Following nearly five months of separation, Ryan was finally reunited with his family on 29 March in the Ambassador Aviation hangar in Nampula, Mozambique. Under the terms of his provisional release, Ryan had to report regularly to Mozambican authorities.
Ryan’s wife Annabel, and their their boys Elias and Hezekiah, were taken to the Ambassador Aviation hangar near the main airport terminal in Nampula for a private welcome before the family tucked into a hearty dinner.
Ryan returns to the family home in Nampula, Mozambique (credit: Ruth Harrison)
After more than four months of wrongful detainment, Ryan, Willem du Plessis and Eric Dry were finally released from Machava Maximum Security Prison on 14 March. They were granted a provisional release but had to remain in Mozambique.
Ryan thanked his supporters shortly after his release:
16 March 2023 – MAF statement
‘Mission Aviation Fellowship is pleased to confirm that pilot Ryan Koher has been granted a provisional release from prison in Mozambique.
Koher, an American pilot, along with two South African men, Willem du Plessis and Eric Dry, also detained, left prison late on Tuesday afternoon. They have been held for more than four months.
They are required to remain in Mozambique and the case is still ongoing. We are continuing to learn more about next steps in the case from our legal counsel.
Ryan has talked with his wife, Annabel, and his two boys multiple times now and he is doing well.
The executive leadership team of MAF expresses its thanks for all those who have been praying for Ryan and his family. We ask for continued prayer that the final outcome will be a full release of Ryan from any charges and trial.
MAF is grateful to the courts in Mozambique for this decision. Out of respect for the legal process in Mozambique, MAF will make no further comment at this time.’
On 3 November, American pilot and mechanic Ryan Koher who works for Ambassador Aviation Ltd (AAL) – MAF’s partner in Mozambique – flew into the coastal city of Inhambane in southern Mozambique to meet two South African colleagues.
Willem du Plessis and Eric Dry had brought Ryan essential supplies destined for an orphanage near Montepuez in northern Mozambique. This was nothing new as Ambassador Aviation had been conducting annual supply flights to this orphanage and others since 2014.
During a routine airport security scan on 4 November ahead of Ryan’s chartered flight, police officials took a special interest in the supplies, which included vitamins, over-the-counter medication and food preservatives. None of it belonged to Ryan.
The flight bound for Montepuez in Cabo Delgado raised more suspicion since conflict in the region is rife. There is a general mistrust of foreigners who handle goods in the area.
Before the supplies were even loaded onto the plane, the police seized them and detained Ryan, Willem and Eric on suspicion of terrorism and supporting insurgents. The three men were originally imprisoned in Inhambane but have since been relocated to the Machava Maximum Security Prison near Maputo.
To date, no formal charges have been made.
For the first time in nearly three months, Ryan’s wife Annabel and their two young sons, Elias and Hezekiah, were able to speak to Ryan over the telephone on 24 January. It’s given the family a real boost says Annabel:
‘It was encouraging to hear Ryan’s voice and to know that he really is doing well considering the circumstances. Waking the boys with Ryan’s voice on speaker and seeing their huge smiles was such a sweet moment. I feel an increased sense of peace and steadfastness as we continue praying and waiting on the Lord. Those nearly two hours will be cherished until we next talk or when he is released.’
Ever since her husband’s arrest, Annabel has been leading prayers for Ryan’s swift release:
Hundreds of people from around the world will join forces on MAF’s special day of global prayer and fasting on 15 February.
MAF does not support insurgents
Contrary to the unfounded allegations, Ambassador Aviation has actually helped people in the past flee from insurgent attacks says David Holsten, CEO of MAF US:
‘Ambassador Aviation has long sought to care for those who have been harmed by the insurgency, including evacuating innocent residents following a March 2021 insurgent attack.’
In 2021, Ambassador Aviation evacuated over 800 people from Afungi and provided food, medicine and emergency relief when insurgents attacked Palma, Cabo Delgado Province in Mozambique’s north eastern corner.
As the region recovered from the attacks, Ambassador Aviation flew in health workers to care for people from late 2021 to early 2022.
‘Ryan Koher did nothing wrong. His wife and children deserve to have him back, and the orphanage in northern Mozambique need the supplies he was trying to deliver when he was wrongly detained.
‘I urge Christians around the world to pray for Ryan’s safety and swift release and call on those in power both in Mozambique and here in the US to do everything they can to resolve this wrongful detainment.
‘This situation has been very challenging for the family. We fully believe in Ryan’s innocence, and we are all praying that this issue will be resolved very soon with the case dismissed and Ryan released.’
David Holsten, CEO of MAF US
A criminal investigation is currently underway and Ryan’s lawyer is doing all that he can to remedy the situation as is the US Embassy. The Mozambican government has been obtaining various documentation from the orphanage involved.
The prosecutor has ordered AAL’s plane to be safely transferred into a hangar, but with one of two aircraft now out of action, AAL’s medevacs and humanitarian assistance have been seriously hampered.
Annabel and their two children have since returned to the US for safety. Ryan – who has worked for AAL in Mozambique since December 2021 – spent Christmas in prison away from his family who stayed with Annabel’s mother in Nampa, Idaho. Annabel and the children are also being supported by Annabel’s siblings and her home church.
‘God is with me’
The conditions at Machava Maximum Security Prison are better than the previous prison in Inhambane. Ryan has access to personal hygiene items including soap, which he is sharing with other inmates. He has however, been bitten by insects resulting in itching. The team are doing all they can to get him the right medication.
There has been no interrogation or physical mistreatment. Ryan’s lawyer, US Embassy officials and several Ambassador Aviation staff including Senhor Coelho and MAF Country Director Rolland Trempert, have been able to visit Ryan.
Ryan has been writing to MAF US through the US Embassy about how he has been faring in prison. Here are some excerpts:
‘I am doing well and in good health. The prison did a special meal for Christmas. They had beef and Coke Zero instead of the normal beans and chicken feet.
‘Senhor Coelho and the embassy brought lots of books this week, which I’m really excited about.
‘I try to exercise every day – just some jumping jacks, push ups and squats. I still spend most of my day reading the Bible – it’s a real ‘page turner!’ One of the men here let me borrow his Portuguese Bible in exchange for one of my English ones – I’m using it to improve my Portuguese.
‘Whatever path God has me take, he has a work for me to complete and I need not fear in the face of suffering because I am united with Christ. These things are very comforting to me because I know he will be with me and has a purpose in it all. Please pray that he would help me conduct myself in a manner worthy of the Gospel so that I will not be frightened by those who oppose me.’
Ryan has since finished reading the Bible and has even been able to share some encouraging words at the prison church service. Annabel says some of the guards have been sympathetic:
‘A guard saw our story on the news and was impressed by our mission work – he told Ryan to keep praying. Ryan said that this was the second guard to say this. Ryan told both guards that God has been with him.’
In Ryan’s latest letter, he shares that some fellow inmates perceive him as a ‘very strong person’ and that they think he is in the military, but Ryan says his demeanor is all down to God:
‘I told them I’ve never been in the military and that I’m really not a strong person, but it’s because I have thousands of people praying for me. I don’t have any strength in myself, but the Lord sustains me and by His grace, I am able to stand. God should get all the glory, as I claim none for myself.’
Ryan Koher – pilot/engineer for Ambassador Aviation
Fortunately, Ryan is able to eat breakfast with the two other detainees, Willem and Eric. Together, they also spend one hour outside every day enjoying each other’s company, sunshine and fresh air.
Please continue to pray for the release of Ryan, Willem and Eric. If you would like to let Annabel know that you are praying for Ryan and the family at this difficult time, please feel free to email your messages of support to: email@example.com You can also write to Annabel addressing your letters to: Annabel Koher. PO Box 47, Nampa, Idaho, 83653. United States
Please use #prayforpilotryan on your social media channels to garner wider support.
Ryan and Annabel Koher (credit: Stuart Boyd)
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