Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Presenting Logistics as Missions?

The mission of UIM Aviation is to establish native, local churches by providing logistic support to missionaries and native pastors who are ministering to the remote tribal people of North America.

White guy (and girl), dark faces, brown
huts, and lush green jungle
It’s been difficult for me to explain what I do in terms of “missions,” because, I think, the traditional view of missionary work brings to mind the image of a tall, white preacher surrounded by a sea of dark faces with a backdrop of brown thatch huts and lush green jungle. What does not come to mind is the vast army of the Lord’s servants who enable the evangelists, translators, preachers, and church planters to do their part.

Allow me to invoke a military parallel. Sun Tzu (The Art of War) wrote “The line between disorder and order lies in logistics.” Without the myriad of clerks, quartermasters, troop transports, medical staff, training personnel, and so on, the battlefield would be a mass of disorganized, self-destructive chaos in a state of constant collapse. If the soldier firing his M4 Carbine in the midst of a firefight is the tip of the spear, the rest of the weighted spearhead and shaft are the bits that get him there.

It’s also been said that an army moves on its stomach, meaning, if the beans and bullets can’t get to the front line, the front line is forced to withdraw to where the beans and bullets are. Therefore, if you improve the means of moving and supplying the warfighters, you suddenly jump in your ability to wage war. The same is true, to a great degree, in mission work.

Betty Greene, MAF Pilot
 From the humble beginnings of mission aviation in a 1933 Waco closed-cabin biplane to the Samaritan’s Purse 4-engine DC-8 cargo jet, the goal has been to leverage technology to logistically support the Great Commission: going into all the world, teaching Christ and making disciples for the glory of God.

Samaritan's Purse DC-8 Cargo Plane

We, the Ledfords, are simply servants, our role falling somewhere between the sender (many of you), and the sent. Together, you, we, and they are partners in the Gospel, the great news that the Son of God became a man to reconcile sinners to his Holy Father through his own death and resurrection.

I work 40 hours a week as a mechanic, a program director, a typist, an editor, or anything else that will keep our pilots flying the missionaries to where the people are. Lately, that work has included researching whether a helicopter is the logistical tool that will help us reset our operational limits. We believe it will, so I will be helping develop the program that will greatly expand our ministry to the Hoichol tribes in Mexico.

Hoichol Moms and Kids from a mountain village near Tepic.
God so loved the Hoichol people, that he gave his only Son as
the propitiation for their sin, and ours.
Bonnie is going through the process of re-establishing her nursing license, which we allowed to lapse while we were in Washington. She hopes to support the family a bit through a small income, and to expand outside our current circles of influence as an ambassador of Christ. Please pray as she works hard in correspondence school and local clinicals to refresh her abilities in medicine and patient care.

Hoichol lady in desperate (life or death) need of transport
being loaded into a small helicopter - the only type of aircraft
that could reach her village in the mountains

We’re still trying to figure out how this new lifestyle is going to happen, so please bear with us as we learn the ropes. Every change has meant we learn a new way to live, from leaving our jobs in 2011, to benefitting from the G.I. Bill for a couple of years while at school in Washington, while adding new members to our family, to being Missionary Appointees with UIM International. Later this year, if the Lord wills, we will likely be hitting the road to explain our work and your contribution to the Gospel through your prayers and finances. We believe it is extremely important to have your partnership, and as our partners, you need to know what your work is doing to fulfill Christ’s commission. Please pray that we will successfully magnify God’s name as we do so.

Tarahumaran man being carried to the nearest airstrip for evacuation;
the man and his family have been very receptive to the Gospel
For now, it looks like the best way to support us in your giving is through UIM International, if you want a tax donation receipt, or directly to us if you do not. We have changed the “Support” page on our blog to reflect that. We are working on ways to keep you informed about what affect your contributions are making, how your prayers have been answered, and in what ways you can lift the Gospel work up to the Lord. Please let us know if you have any ideas or questions about our work, or ways we can pray for you.

In the service of the King,

Gabe and Bonnie Ledford

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy 2017!

Holiday Blessings from the Ledford house in the name of Christ Jesus our Lord. It has been a busy year and an especially busy month of December. I didn't get Christmas cards and letters out this year, but have so enjoyed receiving all of yours! So instead, here's the 2016 recap. Enjoy.

February: Fun in the snow on Mt. Lemmon above Tucson. Hoping for more in 2017!

All decked out for the Valentine's Banquet at church hosted by the youth group to raise funds for the summer mission trip. Great food, fun, and service from our kids!

March: Davis Monthan Air Force Base air show playing with Daddy's old Pavlicopter.

Beautiful Sabino Canyon on Tucson's northeast side. Streams in the desert!

April: Easter with Uncle David and Simon. He is risen indeed! Easter eggs in unbelievable places.

Also April: Roper Lake State Park and natural hot springs near Safford, AZ. Amazing Spring Break!

June: Off to a great start with Submerged VBS! Bonnie rocked 3rd-4th grade and Gabe commanded the tweeners in 5th-6th. All four kids attended and had a blast!

June: Sam and Bonnie are off to Puerto Penasco, Mexico for our first mission trip!

And then in July, our whole family spent 3 weeks in Tepic, Mexico visiting another missionary family:

November: Serving at a Thanksgiving Dinner for refugees(and perfecting the chicken dance!)

 Thanksgiving weekend: lovely hike in Ramsey Canyon, southeast AZ. Sam not pictured as he spent the holiday in CA with his aunts and uncles.

Christmas! Spent in Cloudcroft, NM at a great cabin and even a bit of snow. We also had the blessing of reconnecting with our wonderful friends the McNairs while there.

2016 has been a tough year for our family, but we have seen the Lord's hand leading us in all of it. It is truly a joy to be serving Him here in Tucson and everywhere else He's allowed us to travel. May 2017 be a blessed year for you and yours and may you know Him better than ever before. He is the only true Light.

John 1:4-5 "In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not overcome it."


Gabe, Bonnie, Sam, Ciara, Asher and Anya