This Thanksgiving, Ontario Conference has a lot to be thankful for despite a challenging 2020. One of our biggest blessings is that the Cessna 185 aircraft we obtained in 2017, in collaboration with Adventist World Aviation (AWA), is now ready for use. The Cessna represents a new chapter in Ontario Conference history. By God’s grace, it will serve the health and humanitarian needs of remote/isolated Indigenous communities in Northwestern Ontario and pave the way for ministry in a yet unreached population.
On Friday, the 9th, we dedicated the Cessna in a special ceremony at Oshawa Airport. Participants included President Mansfield Edwards, Executive Secretary Jakov Bibulovic, Seventh-day Adventist Church of Canada President Mark Johnson, Ray Young, AWA’s Canada project manager/global operations manager and Brian Koldyk, the Cessna’s pilot/manager. A small gathering of Ontario Conference directors, support staff, some of their family members and a few other supporters were present, adhering to health and safety protocols. The program was also livestreamed onto the Conference’s Facebook and YouTube platforms.
Edwards highlighted that Ontario Conference leaders became aware of the dismal public health records for Indigenous communities in the North six or seven years ago. Their rates of suicide, circulatory diseases, cancer and other diseases far exceeded the average in Ontario; their life spans were also four to five years shorter than the average. Conference leaders realized they had to do something, as Jesus had a heart for the marginalized, and this initiative took root. After a journey in which God prevailed over funding, maintenance and other issues, the Cessna is fully operational. It will facilitate health training, agricultural projects, transport of individuals for health services and more.
Ray instructed all attendees to put their hands on the plane while Edwards prayed a prayer of dedication, an AWA practice. Koldyk, who’d flown the plane from the AWA headquarters in North Carolina, was especially touched by this show of support.
“The prayer of dedication of this aircraft, in my mind, was paramount to its success. It’s comforting to know that you have that support of a congregation and a church behind what is happening on the field. When you go out there, it’s remote, sometimes lonely, and it’s nice to know that there are people out there behind the operation praying,” he said.
We ask for all of your prayers—that this mission will bring uplift to the people of Northwestern Ontario and for local church members, who’ll be supporting and driving this mission in their territories. Finally, we ask you to pray for the Conference, that this project will usher in a new era of relevance as we reach our communities through Christ’s method.
Look for more information, videos and photos in upcoming publications.