A pilot connects church planting and evangelism to the rural church in Indonesia

By March 23, 2012

Indonesia (MNN) — Brian and Holly Underhill, along with their
children, Hattie, Isaac, and Eli, are missionaries with Mission Aviation
assigned to Indonesia as a pilot/mechanic family. 

As a pilot, Brian has seen
a lot of unusual cargo. Aside from transporting dignitaries and medical
emergencies, he's carried mail, livestock, plants, crops, food stuffs, parts,
motorcycles, and hope.

You may ask, "What does all that have
to do with what a missionary is supposed to do?" Missionaries have long gone by a stereotype
of intrepid travelers, living in and
among the people they're serving, teaching, and a host of other pictures. 

That's really not unlike what the
Underhills do…they just do it with a plane. Brian says they have a three-pronged approach to ministry in Tarakan and to the isolated people of the interior. They share the love of Christ through serving communities, supporting churches, and showing compassion.

As they've gotten to know people
better, Brian noticed that "the people of the interior are always
looking for people to come and share with them, to preach, to come and speak in
their churches. "

After seeing the enthusiastic response
to a men's conference in the remote village of Long Layu, another idea
formed. Brian says, "We held a seminar at the
Bible school that we serve. I have a friend who's a teacher with Crown
Financial Ministries. I took a friend of
mine who's a businessman here–he served as a translator. And I took another
friend who does Information Technologies work with MAF." 

Crown Financial Ministries? What could they teach in a region where
people live on a couple of dollars a day? As it turns out, quite a lot, says Underhill. "The concepts that
Crown teaches are what
the Bible teaches about wealth and possession. It's really above culture." The financial concepts
will help support churches to come.

Another priority for Underhill is his work with Wilfinger Bible College. "We provide
transportation for them. They're
completely cut off from the outside world. A 10-minute flight for them can mean
a three-day trip on foot and by canoe." The school is strategic to evangelism and
discipleship in the rural areas. "Their unique position in Indonesia is that they train, specially,
people to come from village areas that will then go back and
evangelize their people."

There will come a time when foreign
missionaries will not be needed in this area, but until then, MAF pilots like
Underhill are still needed to serve many transportation needs of the national
churches in Kalimantan. "This is a remote place that they're living in.
It's become a center for evangelism and training for pastors and evangelists
all over the region."

However, being a small rural school
with a big reputation has its own trials. "Their school is in a bit of a difficult time right now. They rely
on churches from outside in the larger city areas to help them provide the
funding for this school. The teachers at this school haven't received a
paycheck for the last eight months."  

The school is supported
by the indigenous church. Without it,
training for pastors and other church leaders will be extremely difficult for
the rural villages. Underhill says, "It sort of felt like my job, after going
there, was to raise awareness for this school, that they can continue
to operate. It's very unique in the position that it is–there's not another
school located in a setting like this."

The recent seminar proved to be a shot
of encouragement to the staff. Underhill says
you can pray for the staff, for better cooperation from the national church, and for students to continue coming. Ultimately, "It's just like anything: pray, give,
go. Some people can pray, other people
can give in the way of financial support, and other people get to go. That would be my encouragement. Which of those things will you
do? In what way will you be involved?"

To learn more about the ministry of Mission Aviation Fellowship, visit www.maf.org/mnn.

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