What Does A Country Director Do?

The Vital Role… Part I

Folks often understand the roles of Pilots, Engineers, Accountants, Mechanics…but what about Country Directors? We’re often asked, “What do you do?”

Since 2017, Connie and I have been serving as the Country Director for MAF in Papua New Guinea. Last year, MAF New Zealand wrote a great article on the Vital Role of a Country Director. Here are excerpts from that article….

Like the captain of a ship or the conductor of an orchestra, Country Directors often work in the background – yet they play a central role in each of MAF’s overseas programmes. MAF is a guest in each country we operate in, and our ability to stay there often relies on the Country Directors. They build and maintain strong relationships with national churches, NGOs, host-country officials, local leaders and government departments. They communicate a clear sense of vision and purpose to get these groups ‘on board’ with the vision and work of MAF. Finally, leading by example, they set the Christian tone in the MAF work environment and make sure the whole team is heading in the same direction.

Ian McBride, served in Arnhem Land from 2006-2010. He believes that the key focus of the role is, “setting the culture’ of a programme, with a strong focus on pastoral care of the team. He likens it to wearing many different hats – along with the ability to switch hats, depending on what is happening on any particular day.”

Doug Miles (along with wife Yvonne) who has most recently served as Programme Director in Arnhem Land says that, “…the role is about teamwork and ensuring the team functions to its full potential. A highlight is seeing the impact we are making on the people we serve.”

Bill Harding, who is currently Director for International development for MAF International and who previously served as a Country Director in Kenya from 1996-1999 says, “A few things about the role have changed, but it remains hugely challenging and rewarding. At a professional level you are running a small business using a ‘developed world’ technology in a developing country, which brings many challenges. You oversee the people and systems which ensure the operations are safe and compliant with local authorities. You lease, buy, or build housing and hangar space, manage budgets, ensure the import of aircraft parts and fuel is assured, not to mention pilots, engineers, and other staff. You manage a range of staff, some of whom are international, come are local, some are highly trained while others are learning and growing. Above all you are aiming for the team you lead to most effectively respond to the need of access to bring help, hope, and healing. “

“At a mission level you are leading a group of Christian missionaries called by God to ‘take the road less travelled.’ They are typically determined and resilient, with hearts of gold, but they come from different cultural, denominational, and personal backgrounds, so they may see the world and God at work in it very differently. “

“Along with management there is a pastoral care element because unlike a normal employer, the mission takes responsibility for spiritual wellbeing. the physical welfare of the team is a challenge too, if you are in a place where car jackings and break-ins are the norm. “

Connie doing blood pressures for the team members on Friday – a regular occurrence as we show Care to our team!

Bill continues. “At a personal level it means being flexible with people and adaptable to circumstances. The scope of the work that I undertook on any given day ranged from grand things like talking to the United Nations about access to South Sudan or deciding on a new hangar design, through to trying to find out who’s gone home with the keys to the MAF van, which is now urgently needed to pick up a visitor from the airport or sorting out the blocked toilet in a neighbouring MAF house because it’s late at night!”

Bill Harding in 1996, preparing to show the Jesus Film

In Part II of this blog on the vital role of Country Directors, we’ll focus a be more specifically on the role in the, “Land of the Bird of Paradise,” Papua New Guinea.

Home Assignment Dates Set – We’re On Our Way!

I lift my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth…the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore! Psalm 121

It’s hard to believe that our last formal Ministry Partnership Tour was in 2019, this due to the challenges associated with Covid! But…praise the Lord, those days are over and we are headed to the US in July for our 2023 Ministry Partnership Tour. We’ve just been able to finalize the dates, secure programme management coverage, and purchase the tickets!

We are working on the schedule now and would so appreciate the opportunity to be able to share with your church, small group, family, or personally, about the tremendous work that MAF is doing in one of the most remote nations in the world. Below is just a small sample from one of our flights around Easter.

We would so greatly appreciate your prayers as we: pack up our home to be used by others while we are gone, finish the 5-year strategic ministry plan, host a leadership summit of 32 participants (both from inside and outside the country), prepare for a Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning (MEAL) team who will be arriving in May for a month, complete our 5-year Civil Aviation Safety Audit for our Engineering Department (8-12 May), work on budget submissions, and prepare to depart to the US in just a few short weeks!

As I was out walking the runway this morning, pondering the above list that needs to be completed before we can step on the plane, my mind went to Psalm 121. I’m so glad that the Maker of the heaven and earth is carrying us along, every day, and every step of the way!