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Count the Elephants

Conservation flights provide unique opportunities

MAF pilot Jon Cadd has flown 300 feet over jungles in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) more times than he can count. His passengers—park officials, game wardens, and conservationists—keenly spot and count elephants, buffalo, hippos, rhinos and even mongooses and pythons.

These are some of Jon’s favorite flights because they’re not just a chance to see wildlife. Flights like these provide unique opportunities for MAF pilots.

“We probably have the most ‘Kingdom conversations’ with people that sit with us in the airplane that are going into the jungles of the Congo,” said Jonathan de Jongh, an MAF pilot in the DRC. “Many of us pilots have experienced impactful conversations in the cockpit with different organizations that initially seem to have nothing to do with MAF’s ministry.”

A large part of MAF’s early vision was to “fly the missionary.” And while that remains a key focus, many MAF pilots understand their roles encompass more than that.

“I’m not just a taxi driver,” said MAF pilot Jon Cadd. “I am here to be a witness—to be an incarnational presence. To do that, I need to be around non-Christians.”

Jon Cadd pilots an MAF aircraft in eastern DRC. Photo by LuAnne Cadd.

Opportunities to share the gospel are not the only reason MAF partners with conservation efforts. Stewarding creation is an important aspect of MAF’s ministry and a biblical mandate for followers of Christ.

“God gave us the responsibility to take care of the earth. I want to take on that responsibility,” said Jon.

And sometimes MAF pilots get a glimpse of the impact they have through these flights. A few years after Jon sat around a campfire with two park officials in Zimbabwe, he had the chance to reconnect with them. They had accepted Christ as their savior.

“You don’t always know the impact you’re having,” said Jon. “Everyone has their piece in the equation.”

This story appeared in the spring 2021 edition of FlightWatch. Read the entire issue here:


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