In 1945 God challenged a handful of ex-military airmen to overcome geographic barriers to the Gospel. They answered the call with airplanes, forming a flight service known today as Mission Aviation Fellowship. Suddenly, days on the trail changed to minutes in the air. Missionary dreams of reaching people living in remote mountain valleys or impenetrable jungles gave way to the reality of doing it. They rejoiced that the Lord finally enabled them to surmount such formidable obstacles.
But then He presented a new challenge. By the end of WW II both military and airline operations routinely included 2-way radio communications. So, our early pilots, fresh from those environments, automatically integrated radios into their flight service. When missionaries saw our base staff routinely speak with pilots a hundred miles into the bush, they quickly realized the potential for their own work. “That’s amazing. Is there any way we could do that too?” they asked.
“Sure. Here’s how it works,” we answered and quickly found ourselves in communications ministry, installing radios in central offices and remote camps. Runners bearing notes stained with many days sweat gave way to instant conversations with near telephone ease. Today, setting up and maintaining a radio network comprises MAF’s entire ministry in some countries and an important part in others.
But, professional aviation’s demand for mastery of the growing body of information compelled us to adopt computers at the dawn of the digital era. MAF began automating shop, reporting and flight planning tasks. When missionaries saw the boon these strange machines provided to our record keeping, they asked, “That’s amazing. Is there anyway we could do that too?”