Diaspora

Sarasota-based Faith Life Church donates $1 million to Agape Flights – Sarasota Herald-Tribune

VENICE – A surprise $1 million donation from Faith Life Church to Agape Flights put the nonprofit Christian aviation ministry’s fundraising efforts for a new plane on solid footing.
Agape Flights lost one of its two aircraft – a twin-engine Piper Navajo Chieftain – on March 29, when it was destroyed by demonstrators at the Les Cayes airport.
The church, which has campuses in Sarasota and Branson, Missouri, raised the money in just three weeks.
“That just doesn’t just happen in churches like that – $1 million in three weeks,” noted Agape Flights spokeswoman Aby Duncan.
That donation, combined with earlier fundraising, a $300,000 insurance settlement and a successful campaign last month during the Giving Challenge means that Agape Flights now has roughly $1.6 million that it can spend on a new plane.
Faith Life Church, which is led by Pastor Keith Moore, had not previously contributed to the aviation ministry, noted Agape Flights spokeswoman Abby Duncan, “but heard about the plane and what happened and really felt it on their hearts to do something.”
Earlier: Agape Flights staff returns safely from Haiti
Related:Agape Flights plane destroyed at Les Cayes airport
Two weeks after the destruction of the plane, a representative of the church reached out Agape Flights CEO Allen Speer and pledged $600,000.
Speer, who was away on vacation, posted a statement on https://www.agapeflights.com/ detailing how a representative of the church came by the Agape Flights hangar on May 9.
“Sitting together in my office, he handed me an envelope with three checks written to Agape Flights” Speer wrote. “As I opened the envelope, he reminded me of the church’s commitment, but then he said these words, ‘But God who is faithful did much more than we could ask or think, according to the power that works in us.’
“He also stated that Pastor Moore had communicated this opportunity with the Faith Life family for three weeks and donations were from thousands of people who had responded,” he continued. “The amount committed was $600,000, however when the three checks were tallied the amount given was 1 MILLION DOLLARS!  This gift is the most generous single gift donated to Agape Flights in our 42-year history. 
“To God Be the Glory!”
Initial donations made to the Aircraft Replacement Fund totaled $141,000 and Agape Flights raised more than $200,000 through The Giving Challenge – that money is not restricted to being spent on a new aircraft – totaled $641,000.
“And all I can say is, thanks to every donor, to Pastor Keith and Phyllis Moore and the Faith Life Church family, and most of all, “Glory to God!”  Speer wrote. “God is Faithful!
Speer had targeted the purchase of a Reims-Cessna F406 Twin Engine turboprop aircraft that could seat as many as 14 people. 
The next big challenge is finding the right plane.
“They’re workhorses so people who have them – the Reims-Cessna F406 – people who have them love them,” Duncan said.
The plane was produced from 1983 to 2013.
As part of his web posting, Speer urged people to pray that a suitable plane can be found
“We have the funds….now we just need the right tool for this ministry!” he wrote.
The 42-year-old aviation mission currently has one aircraft, an Embraer 110 cargo plane which can use to serve missionary groups in Haiti, the Bahamas and the Caribbean.
Duncan noted that the larger Reims-Cessna F406  would be an upgrade from the Chieftain, with more capacity and better fuel efficiency and would allow Agape Flights to expand its service.
Meanwhile, she noted, Speer has had meetings with government officials in Haiti, with a goal of advocating for the people there.
Duncan noted that the ministry had anticipated a long fundraising campaign and called the speed with which the funds were raised reaffirming.
“This doesn’t happen every day, a church comes together in three weeks and raises $1 million and we had a super successful Giving Challenge,” Duncan said. “It just reaffirms that this is what we should be doing, and Haiti needs us – Haiti needs hope.” 
Earle Kimel primarily covers south Sarasota County for the Herald-Tribune and can be reached at earle.kimel@heraldtribune.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription to the Herald-Tribune.

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