On a wing and a prayer

Bags of coffee, rice, biscuits, shovels, machetes, mail, a coffin containing a body, together with people going to and from geographically isolated villages in the remote regions of the highlands of Papua New Guinea – all these can be part of the precious cargo transported, on any given day, by a Twin Otter plane in this region.

Flying around mountains and banks of clouds, or taking off from rough and steeply sloping airstrips is also what Australian pilot, Greg Falland, encounters as he serves as a Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF) pilot based in Goroka in the Eastern Highlands in Papua New Guinea.

Originally from Nuriootpa in the Barossa Valley, Greg (with wife Jaquie and children Lewis and Rachel) have lived and served in PNG for more than 10 years.

Greg is one of only two Twin Otter pilots working for MAF in PNG. He provides a vital ministry and service to missionaries serving in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of PNG (ELC-PNG), as well as other denominations’ staff, and Papua New Guineans.

Life in PNG is also a mission field for Jaquie who, among her other roles in Goroka, serves as member of a ministry team that regularly visits people in the Goroka jail. Lewis and Rachel have had the privilege of being able to stay with Greg and Jacquie during their time in Goroka, by studying at an international school on the outskirts of the town.

Life in PNG is different from the carefree days of former times when many Australian Lutherans served there and no one feared for their safety as they went about their work or leisure in the regional towns and cities such as Goroka, Lea, Pt Moresby and Mt Hagen. These days, many precautions need to be taken to help ensure personal safety. Greg has suffered injuries at the hands of “rascals” who beat him up and stole his vehicle as he and his children returned from a family outing.

In part, financial back for Greg, Jaquie and their children has come from funds that they themselves have to raise from supporters.

Over the years, a portion of this required amount has been provided by faithful members of their home congregation of St Petri in Nurioopta. Such giving enables the Falland family to carry out this vital ministry. However, from 2011 onwards, the amount Greg and Jaquie are required to raise from supporters will increase significantly.

It’s with real joy and thanks that you and I can share in this ministry carried out by Greg (in partnership with Jaquie, Lewis and Rachel). Commencing in 2011, the LCA through the Board for Mission will add support of $10,000 each year to assist the Fallands to continue to carry on the ministry they have been called to. Joined with this LCA pledge will be support from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bavaria and additional funding from the Lutheran Overseas Partner Churches (LOPC) of the ELC-PNG. This is yet another example of the spirit of cooperation that continues to grow as the LCA and its overseas partner churches work together in the work we have been called to.

Please pray for Greg, Jaquie, Lewis and Rachel as they live and serve in PNG.

This story was also published in the August 2010 edition of Border Crossings, the magazine of LCA International Mission.

If you would like to consider the opportunity to serve as a volunteer in mission, serving in practical ways, teaching English, teaching in the seminaries and institutions of our partner churches, or in local churches, you are invited to phone Nevin on (08) 8267 7300 or email nevin.nitschke@lca.org.au. For more information, go to http://www.lcamission.org.au/join-gods-mission/volunteer/

Read more stories about volunteering at www.lcamission.org.au/category/join-gods-mission/volunteers/