Missionary Dan Burke and his friend, Rosauro, were stranded quite unexpectedly. But in looking back on it all, he and his wife, Judy, both feel certain that every detail of the story was part of God’s perfect timing and plan.
Dan had departed on a ministry trip by plane with a load of books for the Chimane people. At the first stop, he and the NTM Aviation missionary pilot, Dwight Brown, were joined by Adrian, Rosauro and Sandalio, who are Chimane church leaders.
The first part of the journey went just as scheduled. They stopped in a village on a Monday morning to visit believers and hold a community meeting that evening. (Dan says he was served a nice, big piece of fish for supper. Because it was dark, he wasn’t able to tell until later that it was the fish head.)
When it was time to leave the following morning, Dwight, the missionary pilot, surveyed the short airstrip carefully and determined it did not include enough distance to safely take off with all four passengers.
So an alternate plan was adopted. Dwight would take off with just two passengers and land at a nearby village that had a longer airstrip. Then he would return for the other two passengers. With the longer airstrip at the other village, they would all be able to take off safely and head toward their project of Bible translation work.
So Adrian and Sandalio were the passengers on the first flight and Dan and Rosauro stayed behind to await the plane’s return for them.
On that first 8-minute flight, however, Dwight noticed an apparent oil pressure malfunction. Although he was able to land the plane intact in the neighbouring village, it was definitely not safe to fly any further without the needed repairs.
Another plan was set into action. A mechanic would be flown into the village with parts and tools to repair the plane.
Only one problem with that idea. The weather. It had suddenly clouded up to prevent any incoming flights. Another delay.
Meanwhile back at the first village, Dan and Rosauro prepared to stay another night—a night longer than they had planned. But not a minute longer than God planned.
Dan and Judy Burke write, “We can surely see God’s Hand in the timing … it was the best possible scenario; much better than if it had happened when they were on top of the Andes, or out over a jungle where there are no airstrips!”
And Judy adds, “Dan was well-prepared. When he was packing, I was giving him a hard time about what he wanted to take along. I felt it was unnecessary for him to bring peanut butter, instant coffee and cheese. After all, he was only going to be gone for one night and the people would feed him. But he said, ‘You just never know. It’s better to be prepared.’”
Dan turned out to be right. “He usually is,” admits Judy.
But she also sees a larger truth about plans. Judy feels thankful in the realisation that, unlike people, God is always completely prepared. And that His timing and plans, though often different from ours, are always perfect.