Historic structure helps aviation ministry in Indonesia

By March 11, 2009

Indonesia (MNN) — Boats float. Some specially-equipped cars float. Some planes float. But what about an airplane hangar? You wouldn't think it could float, but Mission Aviation Fellowship now has one that does.

MAF Program Manager in Kalimantan, Indonesia David Holsten says, "An engineer from Holland helped us design a floating hangar. It is comprised of Styrofoam encased in cement — about 350 tons of cement." And it floats!

MAF had been using small docks to aid in their work. However, Holsten says it's not easy to maintain an airplane on a dock. "If we drop a tool, it goes right to the bottom of the river. We're out in the sun, and in a tropical area, that's fatiguing. With this full-size hangar, we'll be able to lift our planes out of the water and maneuver them inside the hangar, allowing us to do inspections on the plane and make needed repairs."

Holsten says this isn't any old project. "To my knowledge, this is the first time we've had a system like this. So it's created a lot of interest from other programs, as well as local Indonesians. They really couldn't believe a building made of cement could really float."

This new facility will also help medical patients. Instead of having to carry them on a stretcher for 200 yards upon arrival, ambulances will be able to pull right up to the aircraft.

The new project also gives MAF a unique opportunity in the community. Holsten says, "This new hangar has created interest from the community. Residents ask, 'What are you doing?' And our guys are able to tell them. So it has opened doors for witness and ministry."

Even before the hangar was operational, it was having an impact. "While working on this project, one of the workers became a believer," Holsten says.

Once the nearly $300,000 project is completed by the first part of the summer, it will enable MAF to be even more effective in its ministry and better stewards of the resources God has given them.

Pray that God will provide even more opportunities to share the Gospel.

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