I love my job working as MAF’s communications officer in Uganda. What I love the most is being able to meet with partners and hear and see what work they’re involved in and to observe lives being changed.
While on the northern shuttle flying on LDR with Pilot Dave Forney, I was able to listen to Dr Richard Barnor’s life and death ordeal which has made him more convinced that flying with MAF is definitely his first choice over travelling by road.
The Work of Hope and Grace International
Before telling his ordeal, here’s some background information about his work. Hope and Grace International is led by Richard’s surrogate parents who have been in Africa since 1977 and have always flown with MAF.
Their organisation works in 29 refugee settlements offering discipleship & pastoral training, feeding programs, distribution of seeds and training from drip-feeding specialists. Dr Barnor has visited Uganda 6 times in the last 4 years and each time flown with MAF. ‘In 2016 I visited Bidi Bidi and there were 60,000 refugees just arriving. Within weeks it had swollen to 300,000 and NGO’s were trying to contain cholera. I saw a queue of children lined up for water and I noticed a lady pumping water for the children. The lady spoke perfect English and had been teaching in South Sudan. She explained to me that she lived in the states and had graduated from Indiana University with a masters in post-secondary education but when South Sudan gained independence she wanted to help her country. Here she was at the front of the line pumping water for those kids. I observed so many children running around and wondered how many women like her were in the settlements helping to educate the refugee children. I shared this story with the President of the worldwide Taekwondo organisation I’m involved in and we started the WT Humanitarian Foundation. We build educational facilities and approach educated women to come and help educate child refugees.
A Child Soldier’s Life-Changing Imprint
One individual that stands out to Dr Barnor out of all his encounters was a child soldier he first met in 2016. ‘He can’t ever talk to me without crying when he says, ‘Can God really forgive me after all that I’ve done?’ He was taken as a child soldier at the age of 8 till he was 22. Barnor’s spiritual parents took him under their wing and he’s become extremely effective bringing the gospel to many in the settlements. He now leads 80 discipleship groups each with 15 refugees he personally disciples.’ Dr Barnor went on to say something that resounds very strongly with me, ‘It’s the goodness of God that brings people to repentance. Missionaries and NGO’s in the camps have gone to just love the refugees and this is changing them.’
Why I will always choose to fly with MAF
The week before I met Dr Barnor, he was travelling by road to Adjumani. It was raining heavily when the van’s tyre blue out. ‘The van spun out of control and flipped over. We were in the middle of nowhere so were trapped for 10 minutes before anyone came along. The locals had to smash the rear window for us to crawl out. I wasn’t meant to be flying with MAF today but because of the accident I feel safer and we also no longer have a van.’
The safety of MAF’s flights and how much more they’ve been needed throughout this extended wet season we’ve been experiencing in East Africa is inestimably valuable to so many that fly with us every day.
Jill Vine, MAF Communications