A fresh start

A fresh start

We caught up with MAF Liberia Avionics Engineer, Mark Newnham, in this exclusive interview!

About you

‘I’m Mark Newnham, my wife is Sarah and we have three kids – Amy, Josh and Abigail. Josh and Amy are nine and ten, and Abigail, our little baby, is three. We’re from the Medway town of Gillingham, Kent, and we’re working with MAF in Liberia!’

How did you and Sarah meet?

‘Sara grew up in Nigeria for about six years of her life and then, when her parents came back to the UK, they settled in Gillingham. We met at the same church there.’

MAF plane in hangar

What’s it like working in a brand new MAF programme?

‘Very different! I came from Uganda having been there for ten years. We’ve gone from a big programme with 18 international families to a small programme with just 3.

The nice thing about a small programme is that you tend to get involved in everything. In Uganda I’d fix planes because I’m an engineer and there were other people to do everything else.

In Liberia, I can be helping load passengers and freight in the morning, and then be doing paperwork and other things during the day. Being Chief Engineer there means there’s manuals to amend and parts to order as well!’

Ebola had been rampant in Liberia around the time you joined the programme. Did you have any fears about that?

‘I think my mum did [laughs]. Yeah, I mean I knew that MAF was monitoring the situation and things had been delayed because of that, but we knew it was safe when MAF and other organisations were sending people in.’

Ebola clinic in Liberia

How’d you come to know God?

‘I was brought up in a small church in Gillingham. So I’ve always gone to church and had the routine of going to church. But I was always taught that it’s a personal commitment that needs to happen.

When I was 11, I just realised for myself what God had done for me – then I wanted to make Him my saviour and follow Him.’

What got you interested in engineering?

‘I didn’t really like school – I endured it. I always liked fiddling and fixing things, and that sort of got me on a course for some kind of practical job.

At the end of school, I got an apprenticeship with GEC Marconi. I continued an interest in engineering through that apprenticeship, and then worked for a bit afterwards.’

Monrovia coastal view

What led you to joining MAF?

‘After Sarah and I had been married for about 1½ years, we felt that we needed to look into missions as a couple, but didn’t know where to start.

We wrote to ten organisations asking, “Can you use us?” Three replied – one said, “No” and two said, “Yes, but you need specific training in a certain area”. One of those was MAF. We did the interviews and things just seemed to flow. That was clearly the course God wanted us to take!’

What does Sarah get up to?

‘We’ve only been in Liberia for two months but she’s been kept busy with the children. She’s a speech and language therapist and she loves working with children who have special needs. Hopefully, she’ll be able to get involved in something like that.’

What do you love about MAF?

‘I love the fact that MAF is helping other missionaries. There are people out there who are called to preach, teach and evangelise, and MAF helps them do that better by getting people around safer and quicker.’