Monday, March 12, 2012

Airborne and on Mission in Indonesia

M.A. in Organizational Leadership student Brad Hopkins loves to fly, and with good reason. As a pilot and maintenance technician with Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) in Indonesia, Brad provides a vital service for people in the remote villages of Kalimantan on the island of Borneo. Whether he is transporting people, equipment or supplies, his plane offers a critical link to surrounding areas.
In a typical day, Brad may deliver a pineapple processor for a local business, pipes to help establish a village water system, generators, motorcycles, boat motors, food or medical supplies. He could also fly a government official, a pastor on his way home from a training conference, a woman in labor, or a child with a high fever or other medical emergency.
“These villagers rely on the airplane due to the remoteness of this jungle area,” he explains. “There are no roads and few medical facilities. Without the airplane, they would have to walk for weeks or months through dense jungle to get medical care.”
Brad grew up wanting to be a pilot. He joined the Army immediately after high school and planned to become a military pilot. While stationed in Germany he went on a mission trip to Romania and worked at an orphanage. The experience left him torn between wanting to go into full-time ministry and wanting to pursue aviation. When he discussed it with his pastor, he learned about mission aviation and knew it was a perfect fit. After earning a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical science and gaining some flying experience, he and his wife were accepted with MAF.
“We told them we’d go wherever there was a need,” Brad recalls, “and they needed pilots in Borneo, Indonesia. It’s been exciting to see God’s hand and provision throughout this process. We like MAF’s vision of holistic ministry to both preach the gospel and do the gospel as Jesus did.”
Brad says his studies in SBL’s M.A. in Organizational Leadership program have been instrumental in his ministry.

“I’ve enjoyed the leadership training, particularly in regards to working in a cross-cultural environment, so that I can learn how to be a servant leader in my various roles,” he explains. “The SBL studies have impacted every area of my life: as a missionary, a pilot, a maintenance technician, a manager, and a ministry leader.”

In addition to serving remote villagers with his airplane, Brad and his wife are raising their family in the small city of Tarakan and have begun a relational ministry with Muslims there.
“I love getting to be part of a holistic ministry with unique opportunities,” he says. “The foundation of why I enjoy being here is the satisfaction of knowing I’m in the middle of God’s will, and out of God’s love for me, I can serve the people.”
To see more pictures and learn more about Brad’s family and their ministry, visit their website,, or his wife’s blog,