On the anniversary of 10 years of flying in Zambia with Flying Mission, Rick and Tracey Rempel review the growth of this work. (Rick was the second pilot to come up from Botswana to start the work of FM in another country of Southern Africa; Tracey was working with SIM when they met and married in Zambia.)
It started out with just one early- retired couple working on the infra-structure and a pilot / engineer family covering the aviation needs, and has grown to 11 families serving in many different capacities. We have people serving as pilots, mechanics, others working in IT and finance, staff who run the guest house, people who take care of the administration and facilities maintenance, flight scheduling, orientation and logistics. We have grown to be quite a team!
Originally the FMZ compound had two houses and a small cottage. Those houses are now being used as a guest house, missionary staff housing and an office, but we have added three missionary staff houses elsewhere on site, as well as one house for a local staff member.
Ten years ago the hangar was just large enough to store two Cessnas (206 & 210), but it had no side walls and was quite exposed to the elements.
Since then the hangar has not only been relocated, but it has more than doubled in size. It can now comfortably store SEVEN Cessna planes. The facilities at the hangar now also include rooms to store batteries, a parts room with a cold storage section, a tools room, Chief Engineer’s Office, Chief Pilot Office, bathrooms, a vehicle maintenance, metalworking and woodworking workshop, and more office spaces both downstairs and upstairs that are still under construction.
The grounds too have improved. The runway needed to be upgraded as it hadn’t been used for a number of years prior to FMZ purchasing the property. It was re-gravelled in 2006, and has since seen a run-up pad paved at one end, reflectors installed at the other end and in-set concrete markers placed along the length of the runway. A large section of the grounds was overgrown with vines in amongst the scrub and trees. Now that land has not only been cleared but it is being used for housing, gardens, roads and our new hangar.
When Flying Mission first started, it came to help out the SIM (Serving In Mission) programme. Today we serve many other missions, mission hospitals, and other humanitarian organisations around the country who are working not only to improve the lives of the Zambians, but to teach and disciple the people, so that they too can know the Good News of Christ.
One of the Bible teachers that we fly began a work in northern Zambia in 2012. He comes back almost every year to continue to pour into the life of the local church. Recently he has been teaching a group of pastors and leaders from the book of Romans. The impact of his visits has been so amazing that they now have to limit the number of people that can attend because of the size of the facility. It has been especially encouraging to see that one of the national church leaders has begun to lead others to train disciples all over Zambia.
Wow, God has enabled so much to happen in these 10 years. We have been blessed to have a part in this work and see God using FMZ in so many wonderful and amazing ways.