At the end of February, I traveled to Papua New Guinea and, even while in transit, I was amazed by the impact God has had on the country through Samaritan Aviation. Upon arriving in Port Moresby, I went through the various steps associated with air travel including having my temperature taken (no COVID-19), going through immigration, and waiting for my bags.
When I finally made it to customs, I was pulled aside and asked to produce receipts for five large bags of equipment so I could pay a duty. The trouble was, I didn’t have receipts.
After going back and forth with multiple customs agents for a half hour, a head customs agent came over. He looked at all my belongings, then looked at my customs form. Noticing that I had designated Samaritan Aviation as the employer on my form, he pointed and said, “You work for these people?” I nodded yes. He responded, “They saved my mother, you are free to go. Next time, bring receipts.” Still in shock that someone hundreds of miles away knew what we were doing, I rapidly tossed everything into my bags and got out as quick as I could.
Early the next morning, I went to the airport to catch my domestic transfer north. I lugged all my bags up to the security scanner and the guard asked me what I was doing and where I was going. After telling him, a thin smile crept across the man’s face. “That’s my home. I’m from Wewak.” The man gestured to his head and asked, “How is the bald guy doing?” Again, I was in shock. I asked, “Mark?” The guard slapped his knee and laughed, “Yes, Mark!” I gave him a brief update and the man told me he had been praying for his recovery. I was escorted to the front of the ticket line, and the guard went back to work.
I’m writing this almost a month later after arriving in PNG and am still stunned that two people, hundreds of miles from where we operate, knew about Samaritan Aviation and had firsthand encounters with us. As I look at the impact that God has had on this country through our operation of a single base, I am even more excited to see how God uses us as we grow.