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MISSION FAMILY SURVIVES PLANE CRASH

April 2008

This article is written by Keith Mosier, who we sent to the Democratic Republic of Congo. His parents and two siblings were on board the aircraft that crashed in Goma.

 

Though a thousand shall fall at thy side...It shall not come nigh thee.

 

Dear Friends,

 

There is a lot of news that I could mention: We had a successful evangelistic series with 51 baptisms, we've acquired a piece of property on which to build our mission, and there have been many other blessings which I'm not going to write about at this time. What I'm going to write about is very sobering.

 

I'm sure many of you have heard that there was a major plane crash in the Democratic Republic of Congo. What you may not know is that my family was on that plane. Were it not for the grace of God they would have died in the crash.

I arrived at the Kisangani airport to receive them after receiving a message not even an hour before that they were safely in the airplane ready for takeoff. I was looking forward seeing them as it's been over 7 months since I've seen my Mom, my little sister April, and my baby brother Andrew. And I hadn't seen my Dad since the CFM board meeting in February.

 

I had a lot of joy in my heart when I arrived at the airport thinking their plane had already arrived. However I soon learned that there had been a problem and the plane had not yet arrived. I asked at the desk of Hewa Bora Airlines. Hewa Bora means best air. That’s when I received the bad news. They told me that the plane had crashed just after leaving the runway and landed on some houses. They said it was still burning as we spoke. I asked if there was any survivors and they told me that they'd had a few phone calls from people who made it out safe. Someone else told me outside that everyone had been killed (I found out later that he was wrong).

 

When they asked if I was waiting for someone on that plane, I told them that 4 of the people I'm closest to in the entire world were on that plane: My Mom, My Dad, And a younger Brother and Sister. I started crying immediately but I still had to buy a phone card and make some calls to find out. I had a strong hope that they made it out, but I had no way of knowing. I couldn't imagine them dying when they still have so much to do. I feel that I need their help and advice in the years ahead. How could I face people in my Home church if My family had died in the Mission Field. How could this be a part of God's plan. After several phone calls, a lot of prayer and a lot of tears, I decided to go home, realizing that there was nothing I could do.

 

Before I left the airport I took some time pray at the edge of an open field next to the parking lot. I looked up into the sky and saw the birds flying overhead. "Lord, You made the birds, I know that you have the ability to keep my family alive no matter how bad the crash was. I don't know what happened, but if trust that you will work all things out together for good, just as You have promised to those who love you and those who are called according to your purpose (Rom. 8:28)."

As I prayed I had no news as to the condition of my family, but gave me faith to trust their care to Him knowing that he was watching over the situation. I accepted with joy the fact that He was watching over them and that nothing could happen to them apart from his perfect will. This brought peace to my soul.

 

A number of people gathered around to see why this white guy was kneeling under the hot sun crying and talking out loud in English. When I looked up I could see some of them were worried about me so I explained the situation and I told them about My Father in Heaven who gives me hope in time of trial. I told them that I've never had such a scary situation in my life, but I trusted the results with My God. I ended up giving about a 3 minute sermon to the 20 or so people gathered there. I guess it seemed like an opportunity to share the Blessed Hope which God has given me (Titus 2:13).

 

It was about 30 minutes later when I arrived home. The trip being filled with Songs, Sorrow and a lot of Tears. I still didn't know what happened to my family.

 

When I arrived at home I met pastor Mtenzi who told me that my family was all safe and that he had talked to my dad. The only thing that had happened was that Andrew had a broken leg. (I found out later that mom also had a broken nose.)

 

I can't express the joy I felt at that moment. Knowing that God had spared there lives and that I would see them again. I cried even more but now my tears were tears of joy. After a while I took a walk by myself and while I was walking a friend called me and told me the number I could use to call my dad. I talked to Dad and Mom and April, and never have I been so happy to hear the sound of their voices!

 

It seems clear to me that the devil was trying to end the work that God has put before them, but God clearly came out victorious. "A thousand shall fall at thy side and ten thousand shall fall at thy right hand: but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked..." (Psalm 91:7,8).

 

It was a scary experience for each one of them. My sister April was one of the first out of the plane and she didn't know if Mom, and Dad and Andrew had made it out safe until they met at the hospital. The seats in front of them were smashed down trapping some people underneath and there was a fire behind them that claimed the lives of others, but God's angels stayed close to my family and made it possible for them to get out safely. Many people died in the buildings which the plane crashed into, and a many in the plane were killed and injured. My dad said he went back to the site of the crash today and the whole middle of the plane was burned to ashes. They are a living testimony of God's Saving grace. They all lost their glasses, but they can be replaced. My dad lost his laptop computer with a lot of important information on it but he still has his brain which has more information than the computer ever did. They lost the clothing and tools they were bringing to help us in our work, but none of these things seem important under the current circumstances. They lost everything they had except the clothes on their backs along with the money and passports my dad was carrying, but they trust the promise which says, "my God will supply all your needs according to his riches and glory in Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:19

 

I'm so happy that they have their lives and that seems to be all that matters. I know by this that my family has yet a great work to do for God. He will not allow them to enter the sleep of death until the appointed time has come. Please keep them in your prayers as they recover from this traumatic experience, especially Andrew who will be in a full body cast from his belly down until his femur (leg bone) heals. Please also pray for those who lost loved ones in this terrible accident.

 Most of all please wake up to the times we're living in. Jesus is coming soon and he must use us, his people, to bring the warning message to every tribe and language group (Rev. 14:6,7; Matt 24:14). Please pray that my family and I won't become discouraged as we continue to work for lost souls in Africa. We look forward to the day which is not far off, when we will see Him come and our Blessed Hope becomes a Reality.

 

Yours in the Blessed Hope,

 

Keith Mosier

FIRSTHAND ACCOUNT OF CONGO PLANE CRASH

by Barry Mosier

 

Thankful greetings from Goma:

I am sorry that I have been so slow to write to you all. The last couple of days have been a blur.

 

As most of you know, our family (Barry, Marybeth,April and Andrew) were in a plane crash on Tues afternoon in Goma, DRC as we were traveling to visit our son Keith in Kisangani, DRC.

 

As the plane took off on the runway (1/3 was covered with lava from a volcano in 2001) in Goma, we were just at the point of liftoff when we heard a small pop under the plane in front of us.it was the front tire blowing out. The pilot did all he could to stop the plane, but it was hopeless with the short runway.

 

The plane skidded ahead after it left the runway, then a short uplift from a little hill caused the plane to catapult over a building and land on a busy and crowded market. We hit hard and this caused the seats two rows in front of us to collapse down about 4-6 feet. Marybeth and I both lost our eyeglasses upon impact as well as my cell phone. I started looking for my glasses frantically, but April said, "Dad, we have got to get out of here." I looked across the aisle at Marybeth and saw through her window that the plane had burst into flames on the wings where the fuel was stored. I knew we had a lot of fuel, so we knew it could blow up anytime. April leaped ahead while I got out of my seatbelt and we started forward. Then, I realized that Marybeth had not yet gotten up, so I went to help her and Andrew. The stampede of people headed for the front of the plane delayed me, but Marybeth handed Andrew ahead to me. I lost 1 shoe at that point.
 

I had hardly started to move ahead when I was caught in this mass of humanity and could not budge. Andrew's leg was caught between me and a seat and I couldn't move from the crush of the crowd behind me. I could not leave Andrew. As I pushed back against the crowd, Marybeth seemed to come from nowhere and managed to pull Andrew up. That is when we broke his leg. During this time a woman grabbed me, she was covered in blood on her face. I could hardly see and the plane was so full of smoke I could hardly breathe. Marybeth started crawling over the tops of seats to get ahead. I was at the drop off in front of me due to the seats that had collapsed. I dropped Andrew onto the seat in front of me and jumped down. There were bodies there under the seats. I grabbed Andrew and headed for a hole in the side of the plane. Marybeth was trying to pull the arm of a man trapped under his seat, but could not.He was pleading for help. I handed Andrew out the hole to someone.The plane was now fully engulfed with flames on the outside.No emergency exits got opened and I do not know why, but it may have saved all of us as it prevented the flames from coming into the cabin and burning us immediately.

 

Marybeth could see that her efforts to pull the man out was delaying the whole crowd, so she left him. We then went out the hole in the side of the plane together. I don't think the man lived and Marybeth cannot forget him pleading for help. We were suffering from smoke inhalation at this point.

 

April had run ahead from the beginning and said she never saw a drop-off. That is impossible and I will have to wait to heaven to find out how God carried her across it without her knowing. She reached the front of the plane way ahead of us and saw a man pulling fiberglass from a crack in the side of the plane. She told him in Swahili, "We have to open this hole or we are dead." She started helping him pull chunks from the side of the plane to make a hole. When it got big enough for her to pass through, she dived through it, but got stuck half way. Someone pushed her out the rest of the way.

 

She started looking for a white face, but no one paid any attention to her. The exterior was complete chaos. The plane had crashed into a busy market and everyone was screaming and running around. Bodies were on the ground and people were burning. She finally saw a French man who had escaped through a window and he helped her to move away from the plane as it seemed it would explode any second. She never saw us get out of the plane.

 

When we got out, we started looking for Andrew, but without glasses, could hardly see. We started running looking for him and the man who had taken him thought he must be the child of someone else since he was black and we were white. People grabbed us and started pulling us away from the plane which was now an inferno. Finally, a man came and put Andrew into our arms. We had to convince him that he was ours. I looked in my pocket and was amazed to find our passports still there. I showed him and he agreed to give us Andrew. Then we started looking for April, but a police vehicle stopped and pulled us in. They raced us to a very good hospital which was in total chaos at that point with wounded people. We collapsed onto a bench in shock and waited for April. We started describing April to people around us and a Filipino man said he was the one to push her out the hole in the plane. Then, we knew she was alive. We shouted for joy.

 

People kept going by on stretchers who were burned. We couldn't believe we were not hurt, only cuts and bruises. Andrew was in shock, and we did not know his leg was broken just below the crotch. After 20 minutes, we saw April coming and screamed for joy. We hugged and hugged. April had told people that her parents burned up in the plane and were dead. She could hardly believe we were there. Marybeth kept saying, "I can't believe we are all alive."

 

We then left our names there and got a taxi to the Union office to get news to Keith who was waiting for us in Kisangani; he had only heard that the plane had crashed.

 

When we got there, we got news to Pastor Mtenzi who contacted Keith. Then someone told us that Andrew's leg was swollen. For sure it was and we headed back for the hospital where we got x-rays and excellent medical help. A team from Denver happened to be in town, but the hospital itself did a fantastic job. They put Andrew in a cast from just below the rib cage to his toes. He cannot even turn over by himself now.

 

That night we stayed with the Union treasurer-a Tanzanian man. They have all been so helpful to us. The embassy man asked if he could release my phone number from my borrowed cell phone. We decided that if God's name could be glorified, it was the right thing to do. Wednesday, we must have done 20 phone interviews as well as taking Andrew back for more x-rays. It was a very tiring day. The x-rays showed that they might have to reset Andrew's leg.

 

Today we found out that the leg will heal fine and we finally got some eyeglasses. How wonderful it is to see again.

 

We praise God that we are alive according to God's mercy. I have to leave the email place now as it is closing. I will write again. We thank God for his protection and for so many answered prayers. Thanks to all of you who lift up our names before the throne of Grace day by day. That is the reason we are alive.

 

We know God has more work for us to do as he has spared us. I wish I could write more. Sorry I have to end this.

 

 Thank you all and PRAISE BE TO GOD!

 Love,

 Barry, Marybeth, April and Andrew.

 P.S. We hope to fly on in a safe airline to Kisangani on Monday next week.

UPDATE

by Barry Mosier

Greetings to all from the Mosiers:

 

I wish I could respond to all the emails of prayers, encouragement, and blessings that we have received. [We] have really been touched by all of your expressions of love for our family [and] can never express our deep appreciation.

 

After Thursday when we found out that Andrew's leg would heal alright, we were greatly relieved. had taken digital pictures of the x-rays after the cast was set and sent them to friends in America who forwarded them to experts who could give us assurance that the bones were aligned in such a way that they would heal. We were thankful for help. The eyeglasses we got Thursday were temporary and not perfect, we are grateful to see again!

 

So, on Friday we were hoping to be able to secure a flight for Monday to Kisangani and buy some clothes and shoes. (For me, 3 days in the same underwear, socks and pants and still wearing borrowed shoes.)

 

The airline Hewa Bora was offering us a free ride to Kisangani to fulfill their obligation for our ticket. Sure, April and Marybeth said, "No Way." [We] all agreed that they had failed in their first try to kill us and we didn't feel like giving them a second chance. They usually fly without incident, [but] we could not face to get on their plane again so soon. Kind friends advised us to check with an organization called Airserv. They service many NGO's with humanitarian and relief flights in Congo and other countries. They were most helpful, but their regularly scheduled flights to Kisangani were full for a week ahead. They offered to take us the next day on Sabbath. We normally do not travel on Sabbath, we felt the Lord opening this door, so we agreed. First they offered to charge us for only 1 way and they would pay the empty return trip themselves. We were happy and paid the fees. When the director saw that it took most of the money we had left, he said they would take us for free. We were so happy for their kindness!

 

Our attempts to buy some clothes didn't work out as that day every store in town was closed for a citywide day of mourning. Fortunately, we met several Americans who recognized us and gave us clothes from their own closets as well as some help from the ADRA office. Kind Christian Americans from the Assemblies church were especially generous with any help they could give-time and time again. Our own church leaders were feeding us, housing us and getting us everywhere we needed to go.

 

In the afternoon, I went to visit the Hewa Bora office. I asked them for a ticket refund and wrote a list of the things we had in our luggage to request compensation. We had been taking quite a lot of things for the new mission, so it was not a small loss, although compared to our lives, it was nothing. Some of the things were Keith's and Pastor Mtenzi's personal possessions. I don't hold up much hope of compensation, but at least a claim is filed and I will give a copy to the US Embassy to follow up. The leaders said they would at least compensate for the ticket price and consider more.

 

Sabbath morning after giving our testimony and thanks for Sabbath school, we headed for the airport. At least we had not had to give interviews for the previous 24 hours, as Wednesday's all day interviews had left us pretty tired. When we arrived at the airport, we saw photographers coming with big cameras and thought, "oh no, maybe they are here for something else," it turned out, it was a crew from National Geographic Magazine doing a documentary on Congo Aviation-with part of their feature on AirServ.  Before the flight, they interviewed our whole family about the crash. Even though we missed church that day, I can say we preached a sermon as best we could to the National Geographic audience.

 

The pilots were two Americans and we felt like royalty in our seats on the Cessna 208C. (Andrew was on his stretcher which was strapped to the floor due to his chest to toe cast.) We all felt very strange getting onto a plane again on that runway after only 4 days. As we took off, we looked down on the wreckage at the end of the runway and from the air, I realized just how very short this runway is. The flight was smooth and we landed safely, thanking our benefactors so much for their help. At the airport, the employees all remembered Keith weeping just a few days ago at the airport when he got the news that our plane had crashed. When we met Keith, we all hugged and praised God for His great mercy. The airport employees were cheering.

 

After we met the Mtenzi family, we all wept and laughed and prayed together. We ate a big feast. They had prepared a similar feast just 4 days before when they heard that we had all died on the plane. I was just explaining these feelings today to People Magazine as they want to write about what happened.

 

So we have finally reached Kisangani to see Keith. Our time together has been and will be very sweet together over the next two weeks. An added benefit has been that the Land Cruiser that they bought 6 weeks ago arrived today by airplane and we all drove it to the rented house where we stay together. I really don't know how they managed to conduct a lay training school for 70 students, an evangelistic effort and search for property for the new mission without a car, but they did. Fifty-one people who were baptized after the effort are the trophies for God's glory and the wages that they receive for their labors in Africa.

And for us, we continue to thank God for his great mercy and goodness to us.

 

Three days ago, we went back to see the wreckage of the crash. There was a little bit of the cabin left in front, some of the tail, and the tips of the wings left. The rest was burned to ashes. People were scavenging the ashes for anything of value. We had thought maybe there would be something left of our luggage. We didn't even bother to get out of the car to look as there was nothing but smoldering ashes. The main thought in my mind was that I should be in those ashes with my family-except for God's grace to us. We are alive and will continue to serve our gracious God and sing praises to His name. We are praying about joining Keith in his work here in Congo, trusting the Lord will make His will clear to us.

 

Someday soon, Jesus will return. We will either have life or we will be ashes. After this experience, I can urge each one to be ready each day to meet Him. Don't delay, he wants all of us to be ready.

 

Blessings to all,

 

Barry Mosier

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