There is a specific calling on the life of an MAF pilot. We often read about the beauitful journey of a pilot’s life on the mission field, but rarely do we read about the journey to the mission field. As you read Tali’s story below, consider whether you are called to reach the isolated.
It has been nearly fifty years since the first woman became a commercial pilot. But, the numbers are still very low. Only 3% of pilots globally are women, that is about 4000 out of 130 000 pilots worldwide. MAF Mareeba, a flight training centre in Australia, is training a female pilot, Tali Grace. Her story is one of great encouragement for those who are interested in joining MAF.
Tali’s story began with her grandad’s stories of working for Wycliffe in Papua New Guinea (PNG) many years ago. He loved flying and had a healthy respect for pilots. Her dad then took her to visit PNG in 2008, which was the first time she had flown in a small aircraft. Tali sat next to the pilot and found the experience exhilarating. This, she feels, is where the seeds of becoming a pilot were planted.
In her 12th year of school MAF brochures were handed out and informed the class all about a camp they were running in Melbourne, for people interested in becoming a pilot with MAF. This was the final piece of the puzzle for Tali. That dream was kept alive for eight years before she applied to MAF. She had joined a gliding club in the meantime and found that not only did she love flying, but she also loved learning about “the invisible air that kept you aloft”.
In 2016 she applied to MAF but found that it wasn’t the right time. Her dream had stalled. At this time, she had two significant experiences in her life that greatly affected her. The first of which was that she felt “the weighty presence of God during worship telling her to give her dream away”. Then about a month after that, Tali had a dream and it was all about flying and it falling apart and everything was gone. She had the overwhelming feeling that God was telling her to give up on her dream. So, in obedience, she did.
She ended up teaching in Cambodia and Myanmar. She made incredible connections, and ended up in the Chin State, which she had been told was impossible to reach. It took over took over ten hours of treacherous roads.
After a year went by, MAF made a routine call to check in with Tali. Had God changed his direction for her? She prayed, asking God what His will was for her. She began to feel that her “dream had to die for God to resurrect it as His”. She realised at that point that her life was truly God’s and not her own, and He would use it for good. So from there, she took up flying again, which believe it or not was more frightening for her than the decision to give up flying.
Tali explains, “What if God took it away from me again?”
He certainly didn’t, and the result was that within six weeks or so she had raised $25,000 and she was on her way to the Mareeba Training Centre. To this day she says that she “still doesn’t understand how”. People’s generosity astounded her. God gave her the door to walk through. She is passionate about letting people know, “God has something for you that He would love you to pursue.” She feels that God is worth dying for and in turn worth living for.
As for the future, she feels it is in Myanmar, a country she is passionate about, and where MAF is beginning to develop a programme.
Her parting words to me were that she feels God is saying to her – I dare you in life! And she feels that this means she should dream big and that she can achieve anything.
Story by Katherine Williams Photos By Keith Fleck