Serving in the RAF during World War II, New Zealander Murray Kendon had the vision to use aircraft to support overseas mission. In 1945, having been encouraged to share his vision by Dr Cochrane, founder of the Movement for World Evangelisation (commonly known as the Mildmay Movement), Murray wrote an article to which a number of servicemen responded.
Among them were pilot Jack Hemmings and engineer Stuart King.
The fledgling MAF team spent months in research and discussion.
Hundreds of letters went to missionary societies and requests were subsequently received for MAF to help around the world.
But, the operational data required to establish an overseas flight programme was unobtainable in the UK.
‘Every day confirmed that the only way to get necessary information would be an on-the-spot survey,’ recalls Stuart.
‘In view of the vast areas and the isolation of so many
places, a plane would be essential.’
Sponsored by the Mildmay Movement, a Miles Gemini aircraft was delivered in August1947 and named ‘The Mildmay Pathfinder’.
The Pathfinder’s tour of the UK was the final stage of preparation ahead of the first MAF survey of Africa.
It had a two-fold purpose: familiarisation of the crew with operating the aircraft (‘I wanted to know what spare tools and parts we might need to carry,’ Stuart shares) and to raise awareness of MAF among church congregations.
Flying the length and breadth of the UK, the tour covered 3,600 miles!
There were events in more than 33 locations, with packed meetings at the airfields and more than 150 people given short joyrides in the Pathfinder.
‘There was great interest and enthusiasm,’ Stuart remembers, ‘with a number of people becoming life-long supporters.’
More than 20,000 people heard about MAF, with approximately 12% of those committing to pray for its future.
From its beginning, home-based supporters have played a crucial role in praying for and enabling MAF’s work. We thank God for your partnership and dedication to the vision over so many decades.
Story Stephanie Gidney Photos MAF archive