Those who are more familiar with MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) know that there’s more to it than just an aviation service. MAF is made up of Christian professionals from all over the world, supported by individuals and churches to “share God’s love through aviation and other technologies”. Pilots and staff living and operating in the communities of Yirrkala, Elcho Island, Milingimbi, Ramingining, Lake Evella and Numbulwar support and participate in local Christian ministry in various ways. The “Homeland Outreach” is one of them.
One example are the outreaches to homelands such as Garthalala. The following is a reflection from a MAF pilot who was involved in this particular outreach event:
It wasn’t until I turned my head and looked beyond the crowd of amazingly loud voices, blanking like a rolling wave the attention from anything but itself, that I noticed for a precious instant Multhara’s bright and spontaneous smile.
Her glance, invigorated by an unusually powerful, yet meek burst of joyful abandonment, instantly communicated a sense of approval and blessing. Maybe even a speck of motherly pride.
The kids had been patiently waiting for their favourite song to come up on the screen; growing more confident and participative as the tunes rolled by and the tantalizing ring of the guitar became less tentative and more fluent and reassuring.
And there it was: a magical moment worth writing about! One of those that let you know you are not wasting time and effort.
Outreaches to places such as Garthalala and Bremmer Island have become a regular activity in the program of MAF Arnhem Land. It is heralded as the most visible representative of a series of efforts by MAF to connect with the Yolŋu Homelands of North East Arnhem Land.
Outreaches involve having a team of people and resources available. There needs to be an available pilot with an available plane. It is also helpful having other MAF staff to help pre organise and attend the outreach event. Most importantly though is finding local Aboriginal Christians who are able to come along with the team to share the messages in local language.
In Arnhem Land it is very important before an outreach is organised and planned, that permission is obtained from the homeland for the visiting team to run an outreach event.
The outreaches are either run overnight or during the day. The Aboriginal people prefer to fellowship under the tree and during the night hours.
“Sharing the Gospel message, encouraging and fellowshipping with the people we serve are missiological fundamentals we want to engage in whenever we have the resources and the opportunity to do so.”
“Pilots, engineers and other MAF staff all need to see and to know what affect their labours in the technical world of aviation has – particularly in a place such as Arnhem Land where, due to a scarcity of missionaries, we are amongst the main representatives of Christ to the local people. Making the resources available and creating the opportunities is what Integral Ministry – as we call it – is about. That’s why we do Outreaches: we have the resources, we have the opportunity, it allows us to more completely reach the people with the fullness of the Gospel – so we do it!” MAF Pilot