In February 2016, Sean Donelly (MAG CEO), Alace Straw (MAG Member Care Specialist), and Steve Straw (MAG Chief Pilot) met with the national leadership of the C&MA (Christian & Missionary Alliance) churches in Libreville, Gabon. The Straw’s established the mission aviation program in Gabon, known locally as “Aviation Médicale de Bongolo”, in 2008. The service provides critical transport needs to national church efforts, especially the Bongolo Hospital, a 160-bed full-service hospital in the remote south of Gabon. The Cessna 207 aircraft (N207FD) is owned by MAG, who has become the sole “aviation partner” of the Bongolo Hospital and the C&MA National Church of Gabon.
Pastor Victor Ndoukou, President of the Gabon C&MA, affirmed the role of aviation in serving the growing vision that they sense the Lord revealing to them. The church is putting greater emphasis on community health education and care as a practical way to demonstrate the Gospel message in every corner of their country and beyond. As we looked at the map of Gabon (photo right), they pointed out the regions where there still is no local faith community and where they are called to go.
MAG already has a curriculum of health care training, primarily focused on first responder and flight nurse care. This training will allow more Gabonese to become equipped in skills to work with our aviation program and express the gospel in word and deed.
They also have renewed effort behind the social work campus being developed on the outskirts of the capital city of Libreville, known as PK-27. They have appointed Pastor Jacob Mouele, a friend of the Straw’s, to head this work. He is currently visiting the church congregations in Gabon to update them on the progress of PK-27 as well as raising up resources- material, machines, and money. PK-27 features medical and educational facilities as well as homes for other social ministries of the church. To the rear of the property, the engineering plan features a runway, hangar, and classroom space. See more at www.wings4Africa.org.
Pastor Jacob joined the MAG contingent for a visit to the Hope House– a home for orphaned and at-risk children, based in Libreville. More than 50 children, ranging in age from 2 to 19, live there under the caring oversight by Pastor Israel and Natalie. They have a vision to see these children trained up to be the spiritual leaders of the nation! Steve and Alace have been friends of the Hope House since arriving in ’08 and have seen them struggle to find and keep proper housing and food. Thanks to a sponsorship program run by our friends at E4 Project, more resources are now available to them. However, they still seek a permanent home at PK-27.
The MAG team also traveled to the remote south, some 550 kilometers, to Bongolo Hospital. Depending on the season, it can be anywhere from a 9 to 12 hour drive. With the MAG aircraft, a Cessna 207 aircraft, it’s only about 1.6 hours!
Bongolo Hospital continues to grow! One of the largest projects currently underway is an expanded eye clinic, in partnership with US Aid. When complete, this will be a full equipped opthalmic hospital, the only one of its kind in Central Africa.
On average, 40,000 patients are seen at Bongolo per year. Each person not only sees the gospel lived out in front of them in the actions of the caring staff, but they also will hear of the gospel message. On average, 1,000 will make decisions to follow Christ every month! Since the C&MA has a network of churches throughout the region, the hospital chaplains can direct each one back to their local communities for growth in their walk with Jesus. The hospital campus, founded in 1977, is basically a small city- there are wide array of jobs once done by foreigners, now with Africans at the helm. There are about 12 international workers there, most from the US, serving as doctors, nurses, and facility management- all of them training others; a core ethos of Bongolo.
The MAG aircraft is piloted by Rob Peterson, on loan from SIL (JAARS) since 2013. The MAG team took a tour of the Bongolo Hospital and met with the Administrative and Financial Director, Pastor Serge Batoubokou. Pastor Serge affirmed that aviation is a key part of the services at Bongolo for the future as well as how happy he is with Rob’s teamwork.
With the desire of the national church to have community based health education and care along with MAG’s curriculum and overall goals, we’re seeing steps on how to see more Gabonese involved with the work. With your strong support, we are certain that the efforts to demonstrate the love of God, in work and deed, through the tools of aviation and health care, will strengthen and expand.