Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Wings of Hope Restored

Jacques Akasa Umembudi, a United Methodist missionary pilot for Wings of Caring Aviation, flies a plane over the Congo from Tunda to Kanaga. Image by: Paul Jeffrey

A few minutes into the flight the engine just stopped. The small Cessna piloted by Global Ministries missionary Jacques Akasa Umembudi did not have enough air speed or altitude to glide to a safe landing. Hitting a house and several trees, the plane finally came to a stop. The impact had forced open the small cargo door while wedging the other doors shut. Bleeding badly from a head wound which would require multiple stitches and a couple of weeks in a hospital, Jacques took stock of his four passengers and got them to out of the plane to safety. Although he left frightened, bruised and battered, God flew with Jacques that day.

The Wings of Caring aviation ministry of the Central Congo Conference provides hope and help to thousands of people. Serving as an air ambulance; transport for Bishop Yemba, missionaries, doctors and volunteers; and a supply line enabling emergency medicines, food and other items to be delivered where needed, the loss of the plane was devastating. It was painful to hear Jacques tell the story and show the pictures of that fateful day. It was difficult to imagine the many who would suffer from the loss of help the plane’s crash represented.

God is good. UMCOR, thanks to many donors, was able to direct $150,000 to providing a plane so that Jacques could fly again. A used airframe was purchased from the North Katanga Conference, a rebuilt engine was found, tires and new rubber all around will be purchased, other missionary and volunteer pilot/mechanics have offered their labor to build a “new” plane. Tools and upgrades to the hanger and workshop servicing the plane require additional donations, but God will provide what is needed through his faithful children. The Wings of Caring ministry will take wing once again. It has been an overwhelming experience for Jacques and those of us who know him well.

By Sam Dixon, Deputy General Secretary, UMCOR
Watch a video of Sam Dixon sharing a story about Aviation Ministries.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Making a Difference in the Darkness

Boxes of UMCOR relief supplies are ready for shipping to bring hope to those most in need.
With a small pin light attached to my key chain, I finally found the emergency lantern on a table in the middle of the Depot. It was a routine work day at the new UMCOR West Office in Salt Lake City. However, when the rain came on quickly, accompanied by a strong wind, the electricity was suddenly gone and we all stood in complete darkness; things were anything but routine.

After regrouping, and with lantern in hand, we made our way through the darkness to the volunteer space to take any early lunch. I didn’t see him do it, but one of the volunteers placed the lantern in the middle of the warehouse while we ate. When I walked out into what I knew would be utter darkness, I couldn’t help notice that the one little lantern had shed a light on the entire 22,000 square foot warehouse! The scriptures came alive. I was reminded of the opening of John’s Gospel, “What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” - John 3b-5

That afternoon became a powerful reminder to me of the invaluable work that takes place here at UMCOR West and at UMCOR Sager Brown. With overwhelming generosity and countless hours of work, volunteers assemble and ready much needed relief supplies which are sent to people in need of light in the midst of the darkness of disaster. Be it a tsunami in Samoa or a typhoon in the Philippines, UMCOR is there to bring the light of Jesus.

As a people of faith, I am convinced that we have been given the wondrous responsibility to continue to spread Christ’s light into the world. With places like UMCOR West and UMCOR Sager Brown, the people of the United Methodist Church are making a difference in the darkness. May God continue to bless us and our calling!

by Brian Diggs, Director UMCOR West Office and Depot, Salt Lake City, Utah