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Single-engine plane crossing ocean for ministry in Africa

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–A 14-passenger airplane is on its way to eastern Africa, where it will play a crucial role in taking the Gospel to remote people groups and ministering to the needs of missionaries living in hard-to-reach places.

The single-engine Cessna Grand Caravan will join a fleet of a dozen aircraft jointly operated by the International Mission Board and AIM AIR, a Great Commission missions organization that specializes in logistical and transport support for missionaries in central and eastern Africa.

A dedication service was held in Richmond, Va., Dec. 8 before the plane left on the five-day pilgrimage to its new home in Kenya.

IMB missionary pilot Chad Tilley, accompanied by pilot Mike Delorenzo and mechanic Barry King, are shepherding the single-engine plane on a trans-Atlantic route that will take it from Newfoundland through the Azores, Spain, Crete, Egypt and Sudan before reaching Kenya.

Progress reports and prayer requests sent in by the team can be tracked on the Internet at http://caravan.kijabe.org. The IMB missions aviation team maintains a website at http://imbaviation.org.


The new plane is a symbol of the International Mission Board’s vision of taking the Gospel to all the world’s people groups, no matter how isolated they are, board President Jerry Rankin said during the dedication ceremony.

“This plane will expand our range of carrying the Gospel to penetrate those areas where even a long, hard road trip could not gain access to the people,” he said. “It will provide valuable support for missionaries who serve in remote places by bringing mail and supplies, volunteer teams and missionary colleagues to encourage them.”

The plane will support the work of 60 evangelical missions organizations in eastern Africa, flying to places that less rugged and less powerful aircraft cannot reach, Rankin noted.

“This airplane epitomizes the partnership of our working together with other agencies to share the Gospel and fulfill the Great Commission,” he said. “It carries the vision of a synergy of reaching a lost world beyond what any of us could do on our own.”


The airplane was purchased jointly by the IMB and AIM AIR after five years of raising funds from interested churches, individuals and organizations. The aircraft was refurbished by Preferred Airparts of Kidron, Ohio, which provided the plane at a cost savings of about $500,000.

Those who helped purchase the airplane started a process that will bring glory to God at every point along the way, said Al Gilbert, Tilley’s former pastor who now serves Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, N.C.

“When someone is moved by God to invest in me, I am moved by God to tell others about Christ, and they are moved of God to worship because they heard the Gospel for the first time, and there’s a complete cycle of praise that takes place,” Gilbert said.

“We give our offerings that way, realizing that we’re just starting what God is going to use as a full cycle of praise where everyone along the path gives Him the worship He deserves.”
— Track the flight to Africa: http://caravan.kijabe.org.
— IMB missions aviation: http://imbaviation.org.
— 11 reasons to give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering:
— VIDEO: An urgent message from Jerry Rankin: http://www.imb.org/core/story.asp?ID=1046.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: ON ITS WAY, SYMBOL OF PARTNERSHIP, A WELCOME SIGHT and PRAY FOR US.

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  • Mark Kelly