International (MNN) — Mission Aviation Fellowship has an established reputation as an excellent aviation ministry serving isolated people in remote regions around the world. Today, the ministry is celebrating the inauguration of their new president and CEO, David Holsten.
At the heart of MAF, Holsten explains, “Our desire is to show the love of Christ so that isolated people can be physically and spiritually transformed. We do that in a very unique way using aircraft and different forms of technology as well, and that’s kind of our unique part in seeking to fulfill the Great Commission.”
Holsten has been with the ministry for nearly two decades. Back in 2000, Holsten and his family joined MAF and began serving in Indonesia. After raising support and attending language school, they moved to Indonesia where Holsten worked as a pilot and mechanic with MAF.
“Honestly, when we were first given that assignment, we would have been hard-pressed to have pointed on a map where Indonesia was. That was kind of our level of awareness of that part of the world,” Holsten shares.
“In that part of Indonesia, our service was almost exclusively for Indonesians. There really weren’t many missionaries serving in that part of the country. So we worked with a lot of national church leaders, provided medevac flights all the time, worked with local governments and just really partnered with different communities to help their ability to live life in some really isolated areas.”
Eventually, Holsten moved into different leadership roles with MAF such as chief pilot, program manager, and even regional director for Indonesia.
Now that the married father of four is taking on the role of MAF’s President and CEO, Holsten and his family are back in the United States for this new chapter.
Holsten says he is passionate about the work MAF does because, in many cases, it is literally the difference between life and death — both physically and spiritually.
“I have had the privilege of countless times being able to fly an airplane into a remote part of the country to pick up somebody who was critically injured — where there was an accident or maybe they were seriously ill; it could have been a woman who was experiencing difficulty in childbirth. Those sorts of flights are some of the starkest reminders of how critical our service is to the people that we serve.”
He shares, “I had the privilege also of serving missionaries who had been engaged in Bible translation efforts for decades, and then actually [got] to be a part of seeing a new Bible translation delivered to a village and actually handed out to the people who had been waiting for years for its completion.
“That’s a very special sort of thing to be a part of. To see their ability to study God’s Word in their own language and to think critically about what it says and to grow in that is a very special, spiritual impact.”
In addition to medical and biblical outreach, MAF airplanes do flights for things like community development, local government partnerships, and disaster response.
Going into this new season, Holsten is working with the MAF team at their headquarters as well as key leaders overseas to assess how the ministry can improve and grow.
“The world changes and the ways that we were able to come alongside others and serve them in the early 50s looks different than it looks now. The thing I have loved about MAF though throughout the years is that we really have a cultural value of seeking continuously [to] improve. We like to look at what we do and we want to ask ourselves, ‘How can we do this better?’”
However, Holsten emphasizes, the most important things will not change.
“The work of MAF…provides a very tangible picture of the Gospel. We have something that people need in the form of aviation support and it is something that really they would not be able to provide for themselves. That is the essence of the Gospel message.
“At the end of the day, we want the Gospel to be foremost in what we do…. As we come alongside of a person who is physically or spiritually isolated and we step into that place and connect them to the resources that can really bring transformation to their situation, we don’t want to do that just to help them. We want to put Christ before them and we want to be a living picture of what He has done for us.”
Also, Holsten says they deeply value the prayers of God’s people lifting up the ministry.
“Pray that our pilots would be protected while they are flying, that our families in the communities they live in would really be an incarnational witness for the Lord, and that they would be protected as well. [Pray] that the resources our organization needs, that the Lord would continue to provide that.”
Finally, if you would like to give in support of MAF’s Gospel-fueled ministry, click here!
“The Lord has provided great equipment for us, but there are parts that we have to always be procuring to keep our aircraft maintained, fuel, the cost of training people — all those things are just realities. So we would not be able to do that without faithful supporters.”
[Header photo – The Holsten family. Left to right: (back row) Carter and David; (center) Grace, Natalie, and Luke; (front) Zoe. (Photo, caption courtesy of Mission Aviation Fellowship)]