Missionary aviators have part in Bible translation

By August 2, 2010

Papua (MNN) — There are thousands of people around the world who can't read one word of Scripture in their own language. According to Wycliffe Bible Translators, there are still more than 2,000 languages globally without the Bible in their heart language. Unfortunately, many of the people who speak those remaining languages live in remote parts of the world — places like Papua, Indonesia.

Mission Aviation Fellowship has a base in Wamena, Papua. According to MAF's Mike Brown, they recently had the privilege of flying for a Bible dedication.

"We just had a Bible dedication in the Kimyal language, [in a village] about a 25-minute flight from where we are in Wamena. We were able to fly in many of the previous missionaries who worked [with] that tribe."

The translation was about 15 years in the making.

While MAF flew in people to celebrate, they also helped the missionaries in the days, weeks and years leading up to the dedication. Brown said, "MAF has been part of their support throughout the years, bringing them into their place of service, supplying them as they were working on the translation. The final flights were to bring the Bibles in, to give to the people."

According to Brown, the delivery flight was moving. "When they heard the noise of the airplane, just a shout went across the valley, and people just started cheering and just praising the Lord that the Bibles were coming," said Brown.

The villagers took the first box of Bibles, said Brown, and marched them all the way down the airstrip and back.

While this is exciting, Brown tells us, "There are still some unreached tribes on the Island of Papua, and we definitely have been involved in reaching these new tribes."

However, MAF is facing challenges since many of the ministry organization's airplanes run on aviation gasoline, which is difficult to get in this area of the world. Brown said, "AV gas is very expensive. I believe it's over $13 a gallon right now in Papua. Then we have to ship it to our interior bases for flying. So that is our major cost."

MAF hopes to reduce those fuel costs with the addition of the KODIAK airplane, which runs on jet fuel. "We have one here in Papua now," said Brown. "And that's going to be replacing our [Cessna 206] and allowing us to serve the people with the turbine aircraft. It's performing well and doing the job we expected it to do."

According to Brown, Papua faces another challenge. He said as many missionaries retire, visas aren't always renewed. He says that means Indonesian people will have to pick up the slack in the translation process, which is a good thing.

You can help MAF by adopting an airplane. For $1 a day, you can adopt a plane and help open the doors to the Gospel in places you'll never go. If you'd like to help, click here.

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