'I said sorry to God for my impatience'
David’s story | Serving remote people groups
“As a young person, I’d always wanted to help people and lead a purposeful life. I volunteered at St John Ambulance as a teenager and I really enjoyed it, so I applied to do nursing at university. It made sense, and nothing else jumped out at me. But then a friend invited me on a 6-week mission trip to Cambodia. We helped out at a Bible school, in a very remote, isolated area. It was a big turning point in my life. I realised how great the needs of the world were – seeing children without food, and seeing how hard it was for the people to become Christians. I felt God was calling me to work with isolated and remote people groups.
Afterwards, I deferred university and I went to Bible College, which was amazing. I felt convicted by the huge blessing it was to be born in Australia, and the options for ministry. I just had to have a willing heart. As I prayed, the organisation Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) kept coming up. They used planes to connect remote and isolated people without hope. Perhaps I could be part of that.
But I knew that pilot training was expensive and you had to be smart. I was not wealthy and I was daunted by a higher level of academics. I knocked on some doors, not expecting it to work.
Unexpectedly, I was accepted into a Bachelor of Aviation. I was really excited. But it was a five-year commitment and it cost $150,000. After a while in the course, I found out that MAF runs a practical, missions-oriented Commercial Pilot’s License course in Mareeba, North Queensland.
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Initially they didn’t have FEE-HELP, so I couldn’t do it. I dropped out of uni and started working in a variety of jobs to earn money. I was miserable. One night I was praying, opening my heart to God, pouring out my frustrations.
I had thought my life would begin when I started mission work. God showed me that the people in front of me were important.
The next day, I got a call from MAF. They had organised FEE-HELP and I could finally start flying. I felt sheepish. I said sorry to God for my impatience.
I moved to Mareeba and began the course. It was really intense – 200 hours of flying and exams. But it was amazing to see God provide, especially through a network of families who looked after me. I got my commercial license and I was about to go to Perth to do an instructor’s course. But by then it was March 2020. There was a global pandemic and the need for fresh pilots was non-existent. All my work fell through.
It was hard. I spent the next six months applying for jobs and getting rejected. I was back living with my family and volunteering. Over the next year, though, I realised I had begun to idolise flying. I had thought my life would begin when I started mission work. But instead, God allowed me to slow down. He showed me that the people in front of me were important, that I could appreciate loving people in the present rather than hanging out for the future.
After two years, a group in PNG got in touch with me. My flying was really rusty by then, but they needed a young pilot to help them out for a month. I packed my bags and went.
We fly into a remote community and the kids come running out.
It was really hot. We were eating crackers and tuna and spinach. The flying was great, but even better than the flying was getting to know the long-term missionaries. They’d been living there their whole lives, without reliable electricity, running water, air-con, seeing death and brokenness first-hand. They were wonderful. It made me wonder whether I could do it. My heart was selfish. Then one day I saw a family whose daughter had passed away because the air-strip was in disarray. The need was so great. How could I not be part of it?
After that I started raising support, and I moved to Arnhem Land to fly with MAF earlier this year. We connect the communities, flying people to health clinic or to funerals. We take nurses out of Gove and teachers and students to the homeland schools. I love it! We fly into a remote community and the kids come running out. Recently I got adopted into one of the indigenous families. They say, ‘Now you’re my cousin, we can go fishing!’
I think my journey so far has been one of letting go and pursuing God more and more. My favourite verse is Galatians 2:20. ‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.’ I’m always asking, ‘What am I holding on to too tightly?’
I’m also amazed that the God I serve is bigger than the brokenness. He is faithful and good! Nothing can beat being where he wants you to be!”
If you would like to support David’s ministry, you can do so here.
David’s story is part of Eternity’s Faith Stories series, compiled by Naomi Reed. Click here for more Faith Stories.