Rising to meet challenges
SIL Aviation in Papua New Guinea
Approaching Bandong, Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a beautiful country blessed with a diverse landscape. It has extensive mountain ranges with peaks higher than 14,000 feet. Dense rainforests with swift flowing rivers run through the interior of the country. The coastal areas are dotted with more than 60 islands. Reaching people in these remote places can take much time and energy and is sometimes dangerous. For the past four and a half decades the SIL aviation team has been overcoming these challenges to facilitate Scripture translation and use in every region of this country.
In addition to the topographical challenges in PNG, pilots also sometimes face unexpected situations. Once SIL helicopter pilot David Early needed to make an unplanned landing because of poor weather. Through the clouds, he saw a clear patch of ground with something in the middle that looked like a big black tire. He landed on that spot. Soon the helicopter began to rock and the tail of a great snake whacked against the window of the plane. David opened his door, looked down, and discovered the black circle he had landed on was a python!
Another time, pilot Jonathan Federwitz also had to make an unplanned landing of his aircraft due to rain and poor visibility. As he circled the only airstrip in the area, he saw that it had not been maintained and the grass was more than a meter high. Due to the poor weather, he decided to land anyway. Ironically, the tall grass on the airstrip was what helped stop the plane as it rolled across the wet runway.
Other unexpected situations have also been used of the Lord for good. A number of years ago, there was a day when a regional airport was closed to incoming planes. Since the SIL pilot could not land there as planned, he diverted to a small village nearby where SIL staffers Des and Jenny Oatridge were working. It just so happened that at that moment tribal warfare was about to erupt. But when the helicopter arrived, the local people thought the army was coming. The warriors quickly changed their minds about fighting and many lives were spared.
In the past, language groups performed a victory dance when they defeated their enemies. Today, groups from many different groups are performing victory dances when they receive God's Book in their own language. It is airplanes that have carried the translators, literacy materials, and ultimately the New Testament to the far-reaching areas of Papua New Guinea. The Holy Spirit uses the words of this book to change lives and bring peace to people who were formerly enemies.
Despite the challenging terrain of the country and the unexpected events that sometimes occur, SIL Aviation has risen to meet the challenges of flying in Papua New Guinea. The aviation team considers it a privilege to serve there and it is a joy for them to be a part of what God is doing in changing lives of people through the arrival of God's Word in their heart language.
Photo by Katri Linnasalo
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巴布亞新畿內亞（Papua New Guinea, PNG）是個美麗而蒙福的國家。它擁有變化多樣的地勢 —— 高達一萬四千呎的山脈連綿不斷，茂密的雨林和喘急的河流遍至整個國家內陸，海岸地區散滿著超過六十個島嶼。要接觸生活在這些偏遠地區的人民，不但要花上很多時間和精力，有時還得冒險。過去四十五年，SIL飛行服務克服重重困難，為促進國內每個地區的聖經翻譯和聖經運用事工而努力。
其他意外也蒙神變為祝福。數年前的一天，一名SIL機師因著某個PNG機場向外關閉，而無法如期降落，他於是轉飛往附近一條村落，那是SIL人員奧域治夫婦（Des and Jenny Oatridge）服侍的村落。當時，那村落的部族戰爭本來一觸即發，但當戰士看見直昇機到來，誤以為是敵方支援，就迅速改變主意停戰，許多生命因而避免了無辜的犧牲。