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Brad Hopkins

Born and raised in Indiana, I grew up wanting to be a pilot. But I always wanted to fly and live my life with a purpose. The only “purposeful” flying I knew of was military flying. So, I joined the Army, hoping to ultimately get a college scholarship to be able to learn to fly and become a military officer and pilot. While in the Army, I volunteered with a youth ministry and developed a passion for ministry.

After a short-term missions trip to Romania with military kids, I saw how fulfilling it could be to help those who really need it. I felt a strong pull to missions. But I still had a passion for flying. So, I went to my pastor, and told him my dilemma—should I choose flying or missions? He told me that I could be a missionary pilot. After learning more about it, I realized how mission aviation fit everything I’d ever hoped to find in a job.

Interestingly, after I’d made the decision to do mission flying instead of military flying, the military offered me a full-ride college scholarship with the goal of returning to the military to be a pilot. But I turned it down so I could be a missionary pilot.

I went to LeTourneau University, which I’d learned was one of the leading colleges to learn how to fly and get maintenance training, while still learning with an emphasis on missions. The training I got there prepared me to do the flying I do in some of the most dangerous weather and terrain in the world—and with a purpose.

In 2000, I married my beautiful wife. After graduating in 2002, I flight instructed for a year at LeTourneau, then moved up to Alaska to gain some more aviation experience in a remote interior village. In early 2004, we got accepted by Mission Aviation Fellowship and prepared to move to Indonesia. We moved to Indonesia in 2005.

The work in Indonesia is truly my dream job. The flying required in the jungles of Borneo is some of the most difficult flying in the world. And I get to be a part of the work God is doing in Indonesia. I fly everything from pigs to politicians. The flying I do supports the Christian church, pastors, medical needs, community development and other needs of the interior people of Indonesia. If MAF wasn’t in Borneo, people would have to walk weeks to get to a hospital—which would mean that many of the people I’ve flown just wouldn’t survive.

Some of the more interesting flights I’ve done are flying a couple of guys who were involved in a motorcycle wreck in a small interior town into the bigger town with a hospital. I’ve also flown in women who were having trouble in child labor—just in time to deliver in the hospital. I’ve flown very sick children. And I’ve flown a pastor, his wife and baby and all their possessions into a remote village with just 13 believers to start a church there. I love being a part of this life-changing ministry.

Brad Hopkins

MAF, LETU Class of 2002

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