We utilize small aircraft to speed the work of church planters, Bible translators, church leadership training teams, medical teams and many others who work in the broad expanses of the Amazon jungle.
Recently, a MNTB (New Tribes Mission - Brazil) missionary got lost in the jungle for over 9 days. Numerous search and rescue personnel were sent to the area. From the nearest access point to the area where the missionary was lost, was roughly 35 miles, a distance covered in 7 hours by motorboat, or 15 minutes by airplane! What a difference the airplane can make!
In the vast and dense Amazon jungle (imagine Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Oregon totally covered with the densest jungle on earth, cut only by the endless river systems that drain the Amazon Basin) there are three travel options: boat, air, or you don't go.
- Long, slow, extremely winding rivers
- Exposure to the burning tropical sun or pounding rainforest thunderstorms.
- Exposure to the malaria-carrying mosquito, the anaconda, the jaguar, the alligator, the piranha and every other type of jungle creature that is looking for their next meal.
- Average time a missionary spends on the river to get to their ministry location - 4 days. That's a lot of exposure.
No other option:
- There are many places where the river is too shallow, the rapids are too rough, or there are waterfalls that make boat travel impossible.
- Other villages are located where there is no body of water. The only way to access them is on foot, with all your supplies... or in other words, not on option.
- 20 minutes to 3 hours in the safety and comfort of the airplane.
- The missionary can overfly the endless bends in the river and the perils below.
While in the village with his family building their house, Nathaniel was bitten by a Jararaca, a poisonous snake. He called for help that evening and by sunrise the following morning the float plane was in the air. Twenty hours after the attack, he was in a hospital receiving treatment. Without the airplane it takes 5-6 days by boat to get to the closest small town and then one more day by bus to get to a hospital in Porto Velho. Looking at a map, Nathaniel pointed to a spot along the Purus River... "Without the airplane, that's where I'd be buried".
- Nathaniel - Ethnos360, Flight time 1:30
I have a little chart in mind, simply showing far places and close places of the K people, in an area covering the size of Texas. Without your team’s dedicated services, and in relation to the far places, we would just have to say, “Forget it”. They would have to remain unreached. Not even Bible Translation would have reached them. Now, there are 40 separate congregations in those villages, all with local leadership. How did they get their own leadership? As a result of the short term Bible courses and your aviation team which could bring the students to a central place. Even for the more accessible places, translation projects would have been much more difficult.
- Earl Trapp, working with the K people
Fly or Walk?
From our home on the banks of the Itui River to the jungle trail is a 6-8 hour trip by boat on a small, winding river. Usually we sleep on the river bank near the trail on the first night. Then we walk for a whole day through the jungle, up and down some pretty steep hills, over fallen trees, walking through creeks, sometimes there are poles over the deeper creeks and Paul helps me walk across. We then spend the night again on the river bank, before taking another day-long boat ride to the city.
- Sheryl, Ethnos360, Flight time :30
Jungle Pilot Takes the Bus
I had just shuttled an indigenous family back to their village by plane after they had spent time in the city recording the New Testament in their language. There were more flights to do in the region the next week, so I was going to leave the plane there and return home by another means - bus. This is far more cost effective than flying the plane all the way home and back. The bus itself was actually quite comfortable, and I tried to take advantage of the 19-hour trip to catch up on sleep. I did sleep, however the bus stopped in every little town throughout the night. All the lights would come on, people would hustle about, and I’d wake up. By the time I got home the next afternoon I was groggy and exhausted. It took 24 hours to recover, and the whole time I just kept thinking about the missionaries who work in the villages. When the airplane is not available, or when they can’t afford the airplane, they travel by bus. Their journeys are worse though, because they have an additional 4 to 48-hour boat ride to get to the village after getting off the bus. It is no wonder that many of them struggle with fatigue and illness while in the village.
Their bodies take a beating just getting there!
In addition to aviation services, Asas also arranges ministry teams to go into the communities to set up water filters, build sewer systems, provide medical and dental treatment, train local leaders and evangelize. We use the airplane to speed that work, particularly in the area of surveying and planning the next events.
The airplane is also used to transport medical equipment and ministry team members to the clinic outreaches.