Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) is a Christian organisation that provides aviation services for people living in remote areas around the world. For one Northern Ireland lady, Amanda O’Hara (nee Orr) from Kells outside Ballymena, that means living on the other side of the world. Amanda now resides in Australia, where she works for Mission Aviation Fellowship as a Finance Manager. “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” The truth of these words have proved to be very true for Amanda in her life and work with Mission Aviation Fellowship in Australia.
Following a period of ‘transition training’ in June last year, Amanda, who became a Christian in 1994, took up her current role in August at an isolated reserve in the Northern Territory called Arnhem Land.
For over 60 years, MAF aircraft have been serving isolated and underprivileged people by providing a regular flight and freight service bringing essentials to these communities as well as medical care, emergency food and Christian hope.
Since 1973 MAF has been serving the remote communities of Arnhem Land by delivering basic supplies, food and resources, and enables indigenous believers to spread the Gospel in a region where drugs, alcoholism and abuse are rife. MAF families are almost the only external Christian influence in the area, providing a professional aviation service and an effective witness to Arnhem Land’s people.
Amanda is responsible for providing financial feedback to the Programme Manager and to departmental managers regarding the performance of their departments within the Arnhem Land Project. She also provides effective financial management including budgeting, reporting, performance monitoring and providing year end accounts for audit.
Mission Aviation Fellowship worker, Amanda O’Hara, tells us about her work in Australia.
She says: “I have settled well into life here in Arnhem Land and believe God led me into the mission field and has prepared my heart for working in an indigenous environment through my working with indigenous foster children and an indigenous organisation. I feel my passion for helping indigenous families developed with the caring and advocacy of aboriginal children within the foster care system.”
Since arriving in the Arnhem Land, Amanda has been undertaking language training to help her communicate more effectively with the people there.
Reflecting on her progress, she smiles: “While I have learnt some basic words of Yolŋu Matha (Yolŋu language), I’ve a long way to go!! In fairness the words sound weird with my Northern Ireland accent!! Luckily the Yolŋu people are very forgiving and patient.”
“So why learn the Yolŋu culture, language and values? It is important for MAF staff so that they can form meaningful relations with the Yolŋu people by showing them that their language and way of life is important. Yolŋu don’t rush into relationship but watch new people, gauge their hearts and in time build friendships”, adds Amanda.
In addition to her role with MAF, Amanda has also joined the committee for the domestic violence shelter for woman in Nhulunbuy. Unfortunately, domestic violence is rife and has such a large impact on the community.
She went on to say: “I am happy to have become part of a community where my love for God and my life experience can be used to reach out to others and show God’s amazing love and promise never to leave us or forsake us.”
As if that wasn’t enough, Amanda is also working towards her graduate Diploma in Divinity – this is a challenge that she was initially reluctant to take up:
Amanda asked: “’Have you ever argued with God? Hoped He would forget He had asked you to do something? Surely He is so busy that if you keep quiet and pretend you had forgotten that he would forget too! That’s what I had been trying to do these last few weeks and funnily enough God does not forget!! I felt God asking me to do another unit of my Graduate Diploma of Divinity this semester. I put it out of my mind, making a very good argument why I should give it a miss, however God brought it to mind again. Eventually I gave up protesting and after some tears I have enrolled.”
In conclusion, Amanda provides a couple of points for prayer, stating: “We are very short of people here in Arnhem Land. Please pray for engineers, stores manager, deputy operations manager and a finance officer to help me. Also, please pray for strength and energy for me to continue my graduate diploma.”
Please continue to pray for Amanda or send her an encouraging message to her Facebook page here or log on to the MAF website here to find out more about this ministry.