BURLINGTON, NC - “The fact that we are sitting in this building is a testimony to God for putting this all together.”
Sean Donnelly smiled, sitting across from a reporter as he shared his story. In an hour, he would gather for a potluck dinner with his staff from Missionary Air Group (MAG).
“This isn’t really what we’re all about. The center here in Burlington, whether it’s admin or fundraising or logistics or training, this is all really existing to serve the work on the field,” explained Donnelly.
The center he described, is the new headquarters for MAG, recently constructed at the Burlington-Alamance Regional Airport. MAG is a non-profit which utilizes aircrafts to deliver supplies and ministry services.
“We’re trying to accomplish brining medical care and relief services and ministry services and logistics and healthcare into remote people groups,” said Donnelly.
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Before arriving in North Carolina, Donnelly conducted missionary work in Massachusetts, where he served as a minister for one the local churches. As the missionary work expanded, and his group moved to open a hospital in a remote part of Honduras, Donnelly realized he needed something he didn’t have: an airplane. Until that point, Donnelly, a trained pilot and flight instructor, borrowed planes from others.
“We didn’t have any airplanes until we met Dr. Davis Goodman here in Burlington, North Carolina and so he gave us the airplanes that we needed.”
Donnelly merged his ministry with Dr. Goodman’s ministry, which was called Harvester’s International Mission. MAG was created and work began in Burlington in 2010. But, even though Donnelly had the planes and the staff, he still didn’t have a home base for the operation.
“We had bases in Honduras, we had bases in Guatemala but we had no base or headquarters here in the United States actually. The staff we had here was spread out across the country.”
Donnelly credited God with leading him down the path to meet a donor; a donor who would ultimately pay for a hangar at the Burlington airport. Other miracles would lead him to meeting groups of people from across the country, who would ultimately build the headquarters facility, nearly free of charge.
“A $750,000 facility that we owe about $80,000 on and everything else was donated. It was all built by volunteers and local businesses that contributed.”
From the engineering services, the architects, the concrete, the electrical contractors, the HVAC contractors and even duct work; everything was donated.
“We had 60 people from 18 difference churches in 8 different states that all came to Burlington in the course of 8 months to build what you’re sitting in here,” said Donnelly.
The new headquarters opened for business in October of 2016.
“This facility has allowed us to really bring everybody altogether under one roof which I find more efficient,” said Donnelly before adding, “It’s great that means we can get a lot more work down than we when were all spread out but it’s really, it’s about being able to help more people.”
The mission work can continue in Honduras, Guatemala and Gabon, staff have a central location and fundraising will be coordinated out of the new headquarters. In addition, Donnelly, a flight instructor, will offer training to pilots for his and other missionaries.
“It’s great, the ability to train pilots here to be able to go do this kind of flying around the world.”
But most important, said Donnelly, he and his staff will be able to reach more people and show them the genuine compassion of God and Jesus.
“It’s from Him and that’s good because it’s for him anyway but, it’s clearly God that put it all together.”
A grand opening will be held at the facility on Saturday, April, 22nd. Donnelly said he wanted to make sure he could fly his staff home from other countries to take part in the celebration. For more information, visit flymag.org.