Warmest greetings from the Philippines!
We have been so blessed to have a tremendous family, both biological and spiritual, who have traveled the journey of missions with us, some of you for more than 26 years. As you know, this journey has taken us from Micronesia, to Africa, to the US with Hands of Hope Northwest, to the Philippines, and now…another country and ministry are on the horizon. Because you have faithfully journeyed with us, we wanted you to be some of the very first to know of this new chapter of our lives, hearing it from us before reading about it in a mission news article somewhere or over coffee with church friends.
This has been a tremendous 4 years as we have been serving in communications, disaster relief, Work and Witness, international partnership development, and co-leading two church plants, one a motocross race track church and another in the downtown commercial district (Makati) of Manila. The years have literally flown by. We love what we do and daily pray that the Lord will continue to let us be sensitive to where He is at work and give us the strength to be obedient to whatever He calls us to do.
In October of 2016, we were approached and asked to consider a new assignment. It was to serve as the Country Director / Program Manager for Mission Aviation Fellowship in Papua New Guinea (PNG). We turned down the offer. In December we were again approached based on colleague recommendations and again, turned down the offer. In January of 2017, we were yet again approached and asked to please re-consider. We committed to pray earnestly and see if perhaps the Lord was leading us in this direction.
As background, the Church of the Nazarene is one of the major users of Mission Aviation in PNG. Kudjip Nazarene Hospital is our largest mission hospital of its type and the associated Community Based Healthcare and Rural Medicine Programs rely heavily on a solid functioning mission aviation program. We approached our Global Mission Director, Dr. Verne Ward, and Regional Director, Dr. Mark Louw, and asked for their blessing to investigate further the possibility of the Lord leading us to this position. It was realized that this could be a win-win situation for both MAF and the ongoing ministry of the Church of the Nazarene in PNG, and we received their blessing to pursue discussions.
The third week of February, Connie and I traveled to Mt. Hagen in PNG, to interview with the MAF PNG National Board, as well as to Cairns, Australia, to meet and interview with the MAF-International leadership team. The end of February we received a unanimous vote by all involved and were offered the position of Country Coordinator.
We have incredibly mixed emotions. We love what we are doing in the Philippines and the ministry is going very well. But at the same time, God has provided some incredible affirmations and is making it clear that He has been preparing us for this new chapter.
The task is absolutely overwhelming. The PNG Mission Aviation Program is considered to be one of the largest mission aviation programs in the world. There are 127 staff spread across 6 bases. Ethnically and linguistically, PNG is the world’s most complex nation, with about 1,000 people groups speaking approximately 830 languages (20% of the world’s total). MAF’s services are critical (a lifeline) for hundreds of isolated communities (flying to more than 270) where MAF is often the only method of transport for aid agency personnel, government and business leaders, medical evacuations (each year MAF flies more than 500 medical evacuations in PNG), as well as church and mission personnel.
Overseeing a ministry of this size in one of the most remote and logistically challenging countries in the world is beyond human ability. It is for this reason that we have been praying the prayer of Moses from Exodus 33:15, “Then he [Moses] said to Him, “If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here.”
We would truly covet your prayers as the transition unfolds. With all that is yet to be accomplished, we don’t foresee a transition happening until August of 2017. We will continue to make details available here on our blogsite, as they become available.
If you would like to receive email updates as we work through this transition, please enter your email address on the home page of the website. You will receive an email whenever we add updates.
In the meantime, we will be departing Manila on May 4th, to begin our stateside mission speaking tour, which will take us across the Washington Pacific, Kansas and NW Ohio Districts, to Indianapolis for the quadrennial General Assembly, where we are integrally involved with the production of the event, and finally back to Idaho. We get tired just looking at the calendar! You can find the speaking schedule by clicking here.
Thank you again for journeying with us! We so appreciate your ongoing encouragement and prayers as together we take the Good News of Christ to the Nations. Please stay tuned – and keep praying!
Yours and His for the harvest,
Todd and Connie Lou Aebischer
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