Picking the brain of Ndaba Mazabane


Ndaba recently returned from a MAF International board meeting and visit to MAF programmes, South Sudan and Kenya. We took the opportunity to pick his brain from his first-hand experience of the MAF field and of his thoughts on modern-day mission work.

What stood out for you on your visit to Kenya and South Sudan?

I was delighted to see how MAF supported and enabled so many different kinds of outreaches to function in the middle of nowhere.

Although we live in a globalised world, isolation is still a harsh reality. We flew to one of MAF’s mission partners, RedTribe. It was an hour’s flight but it would have taken days to drive in good weather. The short distance from the landing strip to the community we were visiting was only 8km but it took an hour or so to drive because of the quality of the road infrastructure.

It was a privilege to see the missionaries’ tenacity. Before visiting South Sudan, we had to undergo an hour of security briefing about health, curfews, kidnapping and ransoms. We were only entering for a short period of time. Missionaries choose to live there with their children long-term. Their sheer commitment to spreading the gospel, their life of sacrifice and their joy of serving God in spite of challenging conditions in the face of danger really ministered to me.

What were some of the “take home” messages for you?

I came back grateful for those supporting MAF financially and prayerfully, for the volunteers giving their time and skills and the churches who are partnering with MAF. We are able to bridge the gap between the gospel and the isolated because of our supporters. Thank you.

Another take home for me was that often when we think of Mission Aviation Fellowship, we emphasise aviation. People think of pilots when they think of MAF. But without the other staff roles, the pilots cannot function. On the field, there is a need for administrators, for engineers, for teachers.

MAF is doing their best to change the mind-set that we just need pilots. The fact that there is a Maasai Academy in the middle of nowhere means that there will be a need for teachers.

The needs on the mission field are many and diverse. When I visited Kenya, I met a Stock Control Manager, Engineers and Administrators and when visiting the Juba Christian Academy in South Sudan I found out that they are constantly looking for Teachers. What a joy to see how MAF comes alongside the church where there is a pool of skills, to be tapped into for Kingdom work. I am mindful of the the difficulty of raising support as an Administrator or Engineer on the mission field. But if those positions aren’t filled, how else are we to reach the isolated? 

The face of missions has changed. But the mission field still relies on the support of the church.

I encourage those who have a sense of God’s call on their lives to use their skill on the mission field. Ask the advice of your church and your trusted friends. You are going to need your church and friends and family behind you when you are on the field. Then get in touch with MAF.

I am a strong believer of when God calls us – He employs every area of our lives – your spiritual gifting, your personality and your passion. Those three things work together to make a unique person with a unique purpose.

Proverbs 22:29 says if you are skilled then be prepared to serve. God took an educated man like Moses and used him in His service. He took David as a shepherd boy and made him a king. From a variety of skills God can use us.

The appeal is out there – if you feel the sense of call of God on your life to work in the mission field, come. Discuss with MAF whether this is the platform for you to help reach those who are physically and spiritually isolated. The field is ready for harvesting. God is seeking both your ability and availability.

What is your view of the modern-day missionary?

Missionaries are not only white. (Ndaba laughs.) The paradigm has shifted. The countries that used to send missionaries in large numbers have now become the mission field. Europe used to send missionaries and today they are receiving them. The centre for Christianity has shifted from the West to the rest of the world. America might still be sending missionaries in large numbers, but South Korea is not dissimilar, as the second largest sending force.

The stereotypical understanding of the missionary needs to break. God calls anyone. They say in London the largest church is Nigerian.

My prayer is that God would raise up the willing and the dedicated disciples who are ready to help fulfill the Great Commission in our generation.

Ndaba so clearly communicated our heart. We want the body of Christ to know that the work of Mission Aviation Fellowship calls a  very unique kind of missionary. There are so many Christians that would like to use their skills on the mission field. We present that opportunity. Word of mouth is powerful. Share this magazine with someone. They might just be called to serve isolated people!

Ndaba joined the MAFI Board in September 2016. He serves as an associate pastor at Rosebank Union Church in Johannesburg, South Africa, and has also served as the fourth President of the International College of Bible and Missions (ICBM) based in Roodepoort, South Africa.