MAF’s first Haitian missionary pilot/mechanic shares his story following God’s call

By May 6, 2024

Haiti (MNN) — Zacharie Francois’s story shows God can use anyone on mission for His Kingdom! Growing up in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Zacharie was very familiar with the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) pilots and missionaries. His parents worked as house cleaners for MAF families and had relationships with them.

However, Zacharie had no idea the Lord would eventually lead him to become MAF’s first Haitian pilot/mechanic.

It all started in May 2013 when he had his very first flight in an MAF plane. Zacharie says, “He (the pilot) fired up the engine, and next thing we know, we were flying! You could see a shadow of the plane separating as we took off that day. We flew to the northern part of the country, which is Pignon.

“Throughout that flight, going there, being there, and coming back, God sort of touched my heart and showed me how mission aviation can make a difference in people’s lives. It can actually change the ending of so many isolated people. But beyond that, though, having a Christian perspective in an area can make a big difference.”

Zacharie François, left, on a flight with MAF Haiti pilot Eric Fagerland. Nestor Mercure, an MAF mechanic assistant, is in the back seat. (Photo, caption courtesy of MAF)

Prior to this, Zacharie didn’t know what he would do beyond high school. Zacharie says, “I was already on track to being the first to graduate from high school on both sides of my family. Knowing that my dad only made it to 2nd grade and my mom only made it to 9th grade, I was like, ‘Okay, I’m already struggling to get through high school itself. I don’t think I can make it any further than that.’”

However, with leading from the Lord and encouragement from an MAF pilot’s wife, Zacharie began to consider what it would look like to attend flight school in the US.

Yet, this would prove to be easier said than done.

Zacharie explains, “You had to prove to the US Embassy that you have all the funds in place to be able to pay for [your education]. So that was a challenge. Basically, I had to have all the money sitting somewhere before I could go.

“During that time, that’s when I started interning at MAF has a mechanic apprentice. I joke to people I did everything during my internship except for counting money up until last December! But everything from cutting the grass, washing the planes, passenger receiving, cargo, flight following — you name it, I’ve been through it all.”

Eventually, the Lord opened doors and Zacharie had everything in place to pursue becoming a pilot/mechanic with MAF. He enrolled at the School of Missionary Aviation Technology (SMAT) in Michigan in 2018.

Zacharie’s graduation from SMAT. (Photo courtesy of Zacharie Francois/MAF)

“You’re in and out in 12 months with your full mechanic license, with some missionary mechanic training background, and some very, very high standards,” says Zacharie.

“I graduated [from SMAT] in 2019 and came back to Haiti. Within a year and a half, I was holding the director of maintenance position for MAF in Haiti by interim and also was trying to raise support to do the flight training portion.”

In 2022, Zacharie completed the flight training program at SMAT.

Not long after that, he shares, “In April 2023, I took MAF’s TE and passed, so I was approved as an MAF pilot. Now, I’m going through the MAF internal flight training as we speak!”

As MAF’s first Haitian pilot/mechanic, Zacharie serves as an inspiration and example for other young kids and believers in Haiti. Praise God for faithful brothers like Zacharie for using their gifts and following His call on their lives in the mission field!

We’ll share more tomorrow about what ministry looks like for Zacharie flying with MAF in Haiti.

Meanwhile, is God calling you to consider a life of service in missions? Learn more about MAF’s ministry here!





Header photo of Zacharie Francois, MAF Haiti pilot/mechanic. (Photo courtesy of MAF)

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