Woman missionary pilot dies delivering Covid tests

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By Mark Ellis –

Joyce Lin (photo:MAF)

As a missionary pilot, her dream was to use aviation to help transform the lives of isolated tribal groups in Papua New Guinea.

Tragically, Joyce Lin, 40, died May 12th when her Kodiak aircraft crashed while delivering COVID-19 rapid test kits and other supplies to a clinic in the Papua highlands.

Lin left the Sentani, Papua, Indonesia airport early on the morning of May 12th headed for the village of Mamit. Within minutes of takeoff, she reported an emergency and the aircraft plummeted into Lake Sentani. She was the only person on the plane.

Lin flew for Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), which has been supplying the tests to remote villages where symptoms of the virus appear.

MAF spokesman Brad Hoagland told Christianity Today the organization has not had a fatal accident in 23 years.

Indonesian Search and Rescue divers confirmed that Lin did not survive the accident. MAF staff in Papua and Jakarta are working with local government authorities investigating the accident, according to the MAF website.

Lin is survived by her parents and two sisters. Prayers for her family in this time of sudden loss are appreciated, as well as prayers for the MAF Papua team that worked by her side.

“Joyce loved working for MAF in Indonesia, where she served as a pilot and field IT support specialist. Though she was there just two years—one in Central Java for language school and another in Sentani—her impact was significant. Joyce repeatedly shared how joy-filled she was in the weeks before she went to join the Lord.”

Lin was raised in Colorado and Maryland, and became a Christian at a young age. By the age of eight, he developed an interest in computers. Her interest in aviation also developed at an early age due to a pilot neighbor who took her to local air shows, according to her biography on the MAF website.

Lin majored in computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and received both Bachelor of Science and Master of Engineering degrees from MIT. Because of her interest in aviation, she also obtained a private pilot certificate in college.

Following graduation, Lin worked for over a decade as a computer specialist. During that time Joyce felt called to attend a Christian seminary full-time, and enrolled at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, graduating with a Master of Divinity degree.

While in seminary, Joyce discovered mission aviation and was excited to discover a calling that combined her interests in computers, aviation, and Christian ministry. From the moment of that first discovery, Joyce held a strong conviction of God’s calling for her to work towards being a missionary pilot. She obtained an instrument rating and commercial certificate, and worked as a flight instructor in order to fulfill MAF’s pilot requirements.

While Joyce was always excited to fly planes and work on computers, she was “most excited to share the love of Jesus Christ by helping to transform other people’s deep discouragement and mourning into dancing and joy.”

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