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Missionary Pilot Imprisoned in Mozambique

MAF missionary pilot imprisoned in Mozambique on false allegations
Pilot Ryan Koher and two South African missionary volunteers have been taken into custody when preparing to fly supplies to orphanages in northern Mozambique.

MAF Pilot imprisoned Mozambique: MAF US Media Release, adapted for South African readers (supplying further information on the South African volunteers imrisoned in Mozambique).

MAF Missionary Pilot Imprisoned in Mozambique
Ryan Koher and his wife, Annabel Koher, with their two sons.
We invite Christians worldwide to pray for these three men’s safety and swift release. 

MAF Pilot “Ryan Koher did nothing wrong,” said MAF President and CEO David Holsten. “His wife and children deserve to have him back home in time for Christmas, and the organization that serves the orphans in northern Mozambique needs the supplies he was trying to deliver when he was wrongly detained. I urge Christians around the world to pray for these men’s safety and swift release; and call on those in power both in Mozambique and here in the U.S. to do everything they can to resolve this wrongful detainment.”

Koher, 31, is a pilot for Ambassador Aviation Ltd. (AAL), which is a partner of U.S.-based non-profit MAF. He was detained in Mozambique on November 4 along with two South African nationals – Willem du Plessis, 77, and Eric Dry, 69 – on the apparent suspicion of supporting insurgents in the country. The two South Africans had brought in the supplies for the orphanages. The supplies consisted of infant formula, food preservative supplies, and vitamins.

Koher and company were detained prior to piloting a charter flight to deliver supplies to orphanages near Montepuez, Mozambique. While conducting the normal security scan at the airport November 4, police took an interest in some vitamins, over-the-counter medications, and food preservative supplies Koher was to deliver for the orphanages and adult staff. None of the confiscated material belonged to Koher nor had it been loaded onto the airplane. AAL has been conducting these annual supply charter flights to the orphanages since 2014. 

The three men have been jailed on a still undetermined written charge, but there appears to be suspicion that, due to its destination in northern Mozambique, the flight was supporting insurgent activity. In actuality, Ambassador Aviation has long sought to care for those who have been harmed by the insurgency, including evacuating innocent residents following a March 2021 insurgent attack. 

AAL has retained a lawyer for Koher and company, the U.S. Embassy is engaged in the situation. Embassy officials attempted to meet with Koher on November 16 but were denied access to him at a prison in Inhambane. AAL later learned that the men had been moved to the Machava High Security Prison near Maputo. 

“Ryan is a caring and gentle individual,” Holsten added. “Over the last couple of years, he and his wife have worked hard to learn the language and culture of Mozambique to better serve those who rely on our service. Understandably, this situation has been very challenging for the family. We fully believe in Ryan’s innocence, and we are all praying that this issue will be resolved very soon with the charges dismissed and Ryan released.”

Following Koher’s move to an undetermined location, MAF’s security protocols required that his wife and young children return to the United States to allow for better care by the organization and family.

Mission Aviation Fellowship began serving the people of Mozambique in 1999, and in 2014, Ambassador Aviation became the operational entity as a registered charter service in the country. Based out of Nampula with two aircraft, the Cessna 206 Koher was to pilot at the time of his detainment and a Cessna Grand Caravan, typical flights include medical care and evacuations through the MOZMED project, VAMOZ, a Mozambican humanitarian volunteer organization, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and JOCUM (YWAM).

In 2021, AAL evacuated over 800 people from Afungi following insurgent attacks on Palma in the Cabo Delgado province. They also provided 24,476 kg (approximately 54,000 lbs.) of food, medicine, and relief supplies to the area. AAL delivered 29 aid workers, primarily from VAMOZ, and 32 medical workers, the majority from the Mozambican Ministry of Health. In addition, medical evacuation flights were conducted in the area for several months in late 2021 and early 2022 as the region recovered from the attacks.

In 2019, AAL provided a disaster assessment by air following Cyclones Idai and Kenneth and conducted 184 relief flight legs, delivering over 45,000 kg (about 99,207.9 lbs.) of cargo and 691 passengers as part of the humanitarian assistance response.

MAF SA encourages Christians to please pray for the release of the confiscated supplies that the orphanages are in dire need of. As well as the expedited release of the men and the state to dissolve this case.

A message from Ryan’s wife, Annabel, below:

It is often eye-opening when we are either dealing with a situation, or just came out of one, and realise that God had been preparing us all along. This summer, Annabel Koher agreed to write a devotional for the MAF US Advent Experience. For December 21 she titled her devotional, “Resting Assured in the Risk.”

Here is what Annabel recently posted on her Facebook page: “I received my copy of the MAF advent devotional this week. I wrote my contribution back in June and God brought it to mind at the start of this difficult season to encourage me. It’s interesting to see how He set things up these past couple of years in what He was teaching us and bringing us through that have been foundations for us to lean on now.”

We can rest assured that we have a great God. He knows all about Ryan and Annabel and has prepared them for this time. We will continue to pray for them and trust in the plans He has made for them.

To read about the latest coverage on MAF Pilot Ryan imprisoned in Mozambique, please refer to ChristianityToday’s article.

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