Davis Goodman felt the call to missionary aviation while he was still on active duty in the United States Air Force That career spanned 24 years and included over 11,000 flight hours, 113 combat missions in Vietnam, and 33 decorations and awards, including the Distinguished Flying Cross and 6 Air Medals.
The door to missionary aviation opened to Davis as he left the Air Force and was asked by the President of Piedmont Bible College (later Piedmont Baptist College) to help establish a new missionary aviation training department and degree program just being formed by the college. Flight training operations began at Smith Reynolds Airport (KINT) in Winston-Salem, NC in the fall term of 1974 with a borrowed airplane, 9 students, and Mr. Wayne Hurst as the lone instructor. In January 1975, Davis agreed to join the endeavor and later that year founded the Missionary Aviation Training Institute (MATI), became its Director, and purchased its first airplane (a Cessna 150).
The program quickly out-grew its rented facility and in 1979 the Sugar Valley Airport (31A) was leased. The move to Sugar Valley accompanied a name change to Missionary Aviation Institute (MAI) and allowed space for the addition of an A&P (Airframe & Powerplant) Mechanic School which opened in 1981. Finally, with aircraft, facilities, staff, and students firmly in place, Davis Goodman handed ownership and operational control of MAI and Sugar Valley Airport to Piedmont Baptist College in 1984.
This is where the story of Harvester’s International Mission really begins.
With MAI now established and succeeding in its mission of providing missionary aviators for the world’s mission fields, a new realization set in. What were they going to fly? Many MAI graduates were heading to “aviation-specific” organization, but many were not. Those who entered service with mission boards not equipped to supply aircraft were being left with that burden themselves. And so, with the deep conviction that more could be done to support gospel and medical ministry in remote areas around the world, Davis Goodman founded Harvester’s International Mission (HIM) in 1984.
"It just made sense.” recounts Davis, “A missionary pilot can’t go to the field and do his work if he doesn’t have an airplane. Somebody had to help raise the money to get these guys some airplanes. So that’s what we did!"
With qualifications that include an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate with single and multi-engine jet-aircraft ratings, a Master’s Degree in Aerospace Technology and a PhD in Aerospace Business Development, Dr. Davis Goodman was especially equipped and qualified for the task. Critical to the success of the new endeavor was the formation of a gifted and godly board of directors that included a mix of men from across the business, ministry, and aviation communities. It has proven to be an effective mix!
Harvester’s International Mission has helped to provide aircraft for missionary pilots in Mexico, Central America (Guatemala and Honduras), South America (Brazil, Paraguay, and Peru), West Africa (Togo), Papua, New Guinea, and the Pacific Islands of Truk. Meanwhile, graduates of Missionary Aviation Institute have gone on to serve with Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), Associated Baptist for World Evangelism (ABWE), New Tribes Mission (NTM), United Indian Mission (UIM), Jungle Aviation and Radio Service (JAARS), and many other mission organizations around the world.
In 2005, over 30 years after the initial formation of MAI, Piedmont Baptist College announced the termination of its Missionary Aviation Degree Program and the closure of MAI to follow the graduation of its final class in 2009. With the need for trained aviation missionaries ever present, and with the name and identity of MAI no longer in use by the college, Dr. Goodman reincorporated MAI independent of the college and positioned it to function as a division of Harvester’s International Mission.
Plans then began to formulate for HIM to go beyond funding development, aircraft acquisition, and pilot training through MAI, all the way to the natural terminus of all these things – the sending of pilots and airplanes to foreign mission fields. This was simply a matter of vision and prayer until the fall of 2009 when Davis met Rev. Sean Donnelly, the president of Missionary Air Group (MAG).
Founded by Donnelly in 2005, MAG was developing missionary aviation field programs in remote areas of Honduras and Guatemala and approached HIM in search of an airplane. Instead of an airplane, MAG received an invitation to relocate from Massachusetts to North Carolina to form a strategic partnership – providing the missing piece of the overall HIM vision. They accepted and in May 2010 Missionary Air Group became the International Field Operations Department of HIM with Sean Donnelly becoming Harvester’s Vice President of Field Operations.
As partners, HIM and MAG worked to build a missionary aviation base and to reopen the small missionary hospital in the remote Honduran village of Rus Rus. An aircraft and full-time missionary family was deployed to Rus Rus in June 2010. In order to provide a legal covering for the ownership of property, the employment of national staff, and the importation of material support, the incorporation of a new Honduran entity was required and Medical Air Group (Grupo de Aviacion Medico de Honduras – GAM) was formed in 2011. Life saving medical care now flows out to the isolated Miskito people of eastern Honduras as an ongoing and effective testimony to the love of Christ!
Dr. Davis Goodman in Burlington, NC
(photo September 2009)
Rev. Sean Donnelly began serving in full-time ministry in 1997 following 10 years working in international business and project management, including 5 years as the Administrator of the hospital-based pharmacology research programs for the University of Rhode Island. Sean has developed an understanding and heart for diverse cultures having worked, traveled, and ministered in 22 countries to date. And, with a degree in Business Administration, post-graduate studies at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, over a decade of missionary involvement in Honduras, 12 years of pastoral ministry, and aviation credentials including Airline Transport Pilot and Certified Flight Instructor Certificates (single and multi-engine), the decision was made to name Sean Donnelly to succeed Davis Goodman as the president of Harvester’s International Mission. With that also came the decision to formally fold MAG into HIM to form one organization that would truly be an “international mission”. This came to fruition in March 2011 when Sean was installed as only the second president in the 28 year history of the organization.
The change in leadership and the shift in ministry scope – from an organization enabling field programs to one that develops and operates them – has brought Harvester’s through a process of re-discovery, re-focusing, and re-building for the new season of ministry that lies ahead. MAI has “spun-off” to operate its training program independently allowing HIM to focus on field operations. Missionary staff is slowly being added. An aircraft has been purchased for deployment in Guatemala. New hangar and office facilities have been acquired in Burlington, NC. And, as of December 2011, HIM has officially absorbed MAG and is now conducting all its international ministry operations under the recognized name Missionary Air Group.
What challenging and exciting times we forge into – showing the love and COMPASSION of Jesus Christ as together we deliver help and hope by air!