Ministry builds relationships with Mozambican villages through medical aviation

Mozambique (MNN) — The African country of Mozambique is marked with extreme terrain — everything from high plateaus and coastal lowlands to mountains in the west. The Niassa Reserve in Mozambique is about 42,000 square kilometers — comparable to the size of Switzerland — and particularly difficult to traverse.

(Photo courtesy of MAF)

Steve Simpson serves as a program manager with Mission Aviation Fellowship. The MAF Mozambique aviation team consists of six pilots in Nampula, a city in northern Mozambique. “A lot of what we’re doing is just trying to reach isolated people, and that’s really what the mission of MAF is — reaching isolated people for Christ.

“Currently, one of our big initiatives in Mozambique is the flying doctor initiative which is in…the Niassa Reserve,” says Simpson. “It’s home to about 35,000 people living in 40 different villages spread across the region.”

MAF Mozambique’s flying doctor initiative is still a pilot program. They’ve partnered with a Christian Dutch doctor and nurse, flying them into three target villages of about 1,200 people with MAF’s larger caravan aircraft.

“We’re flying into those areas, bringing in the medical team, and providing medical care. It’s an area as remote as you get really in Mozambique, very little road access. Especially during the rainy season, roads and rivers fill up and it’s very difficult to get around. To get to this area by car and visit the villages and come back, it’s about 45-50 hours of driving time, and we can do this whole thing in less than four hours in the caravan [airplane].”

Going into these remote villages is also opening doors to potentially talk about Jesus Christ, but it’s first going to take time to develop relationships.

(Map courtesy of Operation World)

Simpson explains, “In this culture when you’re poor and isolated, no one really cares about you. So we can come in and say, ‘Hey, we care about you. We love you,’ and just help them in any way we can.

“Over time, I think that [trust] builds, and you have opportunities to show the Jesus Film and present the Gospel. But at this point, it’s at a very early stage and it’ll take a while to build trust.”

For now, as the MAF aviation team serves these villages with the flying doctor initiative, they’re making personal connections.

“For me, it’s about flying into these villages and just hanging out with the people and hanging out with the kids — especially the kids. They can kind of be a little bit neglected and to have a pilot come in and pay attention to them is a big deal.”

Simpson says, “This last flight I did up to the village of Gomba, I brought a soccer ball with me. I actually bought this about a year and a half, two years ago thinking, ‘Okay, when I go there, I’m going to bring this soccer ball.’ I went out there and brought it out and the kids’ faces just lit up. We were playing a game of soccer and just hanging out with them.”

As MAF Mozambique works with the medical team to serve villages in the Niassa Reserve, please lift up this significant outreach to the Lord in prayer.

Simpson asks, “Just [be] praying for the hearts of the people in those villages that we’re going to, that God would just open their hearts to us and to the Gospel. [Pray] just for stamina for our team here. Living in a country like Mozambique can be difficult at times and challenging, so just [pray] for a sense of rest and peace for our teams as we’re doing these flights.”

(Photo courtesy of MAF).

Currently, the MAF Mozambique team is looking for another medical doctor to work with them.

“Our goal within the next two to three years is to expand this program to reach over 13,000 people. So in order to do that, we really could use another medical doctor to come serve in northern Mozambique. That’s one thing we’ve been praying for a long time and seeking, that God would bring someone who is interested in flying with us and just being a part of a team and reaching isolated people for Christ.”

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