Let's break the ice...
Taking the plunge into serving on the mission field can be a little (or a lot!) daunting... it's easy to stand in awe of missionaries.
But if there's one thing the serving MAF families are eager to communicate, it's that they are not somehow super-Christians or fearless crusaders! They'll be the first to tell you that they're ordinary people simply following God's call on their lives - and it hasn't always been easy!
We'd love to take some time to introduce you to a few of your fellow 'passengers' - those who have gone before you. We hope you enjoy finding out a little bit about their background and how they ended up with MAF.
Just so you know, the concerns you're feeling and the hurdles you're facing have most-likely been shared by these guys!
First up, right next to you, are Dave and Becky Waterman.
Dave and Becky Waterman
Dave has had a love of aviation since childhood. At the age of thirteen an MAF stand caught his eye and he read about a need for aircraft engineers. From that point on his course was decided and he started training in airframe and engine maintenance at the age of sixteen. Upon completion of his training he spent two months with MAF in Uganda, and then returned to Gloucester to gain on-the-job experience, and expand his license to include avionics.
Becky grew up in Cornwall and also felt a call to mission from a young age. She has pursued this call within the UK, preaching in a variety of churches and assisting in many church and charity projects, alongside running her own freelance writing and website design business, and writing her first novel, A Year in the Life of Jack Meadows.
The two met in Gloucester and were married in 2010. In 2014 they relocated to Southampton for a new job for Dave. A couple of years later the call to mission was reawakened in their hearts at a conference, and at a conveniently timed 24/7 prayer week Dave and Becky felt God affirming their desire to apply to MAF.
Just head down the aisle a little and meet an amazing young pilot from Northern Ireland: Danny Gill
I was born in the Himalayan kingdom of Nepal to Northern Irish missionary parents. It was there that a heart for mission and a life of adventure was born in me. Witnessing first-hand the impact of holistic Gospel ministry, I saw the great privilege of sharing with people, especially those in rural areas. I also saw the need for access to these areas to make this ministry possible.
For the first seven years of my life, I lived in rural villages that were hard to get to or didn't even have road access. My father was working as the project manager on Hydro power site and my mother a nurse/midwife helping in maternal child healthcare. The construction site often needed large mechanical components; these were often flown in by helicopter. This is where my interest in aviation started and I was bitten by the aviation bug.
My family and I left Nepal when my mother became ill. However, through this time, God revealed Himself to me and I accepted Jesus as my Saviour. After spending 5 years in Northern Ireland, my family returned to Nepal when I was 12 and I was already considering a career in aviation through the RAF. A few years later, several MAF pilots and managers came to Kathmandu to investigate setting up an MAF programme in Nepal. They invited my father to dinner to learn more about Nepal, and Mark brought me along. Once the MAF pilots showed me pictures and videos of MAF's work, I knew that this was what God wanted me to do. MAF perfectly combined my interest in aviation, heart to serve people and work in remote areas worldwide.
From here, I completed my A-levels at boarding school in southern India before moving to Melbourne, Australia, to study a diploma of Mission Aviation. I studied for 5 years at Bible College, also doing aircraft maintenance and finally flight training. During this time, I also worked at World Vision learning which increased my desire to see change and help where I could. I really feel God has designed and grown me for serving. Every step of my training has encouraged me more than I could have dreamed of to be able to serve God in MAF.
Finally, take a moment to meet our last passengers the Alyings
Stewart and Michelle Ayling
Eighteen years working for motor racing teams might seem like odd preparation for mission work in Africa, but apparently not to God! With our children Jack (1999), Harry (2001) and Robyn (2004), we moved to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in 2011 to take up new roles there with MAF.
Stewart was brought up in a Christian family and first made a commitment at the age of 15 during a youth group house party. He had always had a keen interest in motor racing and studied mechanical engineering at Hatfield Polytechnic, with the aim of pursuing a career in motorsport. In 1992, Stewart began working in touring car racing, followed by the Le Mans 24-hour race and later with Jaguar in Formula 1.
For Michelle, our life here is the result of a calling to mission in Africa which she first felt at the age of eight during a school assembly. After coming to know Jesus aged 19, she studied world religions and history at Crewe and Alsager College, then followed this up with a PGCE at Newcastle University to become a secondary schoolteacher.
After meeting in Michelle’s home town of Norwich, we married and moved to Kettering a year later. We joined Christ the King Church soon afterwards and were involved in a variety of activities but particularly in the children’s and youth work.
Feeling God calling us clearly into full-time mission service overseas led us on a brief trip to Tanzania in 2010 to explore potential opportunities to serve there with MAF. Stewart serves as Programme Manager in Arusha, overseeing the office and liaising with other mission organisations and NGOs in the region serving others and sharing the talents God has given us as we assist in MAF’s delivery of relief and development to needy people.
There's a lot more where they came from!
Right now, we have around 27 families serving somewhere around the MAF world. We couldn't fit them all in on this journey, but you can hear from a few more families and the journey God has them on, by clicking here.
That's it for now. In the next email we'd love to introduce you to your flight crew (us here at MAF UK).
See you then!
The MAF UK Team