Reflections on a Pilot in Prison

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AIM Air is apart of Africa Based Services. This is just one story where AIM pilot, Mike Palmiter was willing to serve even when that meant ending up in prison.

Reflections on a Pilot in Prison

‘Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.’ Psalm 37:3

Reverend Jean-Baptiste shared these verses with Wendy Atkins as they waited for Mike Palmiter to return from detention in Bangui. Wendy shares, ‘These verses remind me that God brings along brothers in Christ to help us in the middle of difficult times. I praise our Father for this experience and for the church in Bangui to demonstrate love to a brother because of their common faith.’

“That meant spending the night in an abandoned shipyard police post on the river.”

So how did a pilot end up in prison?

AIM were in Central African Republic to facilitate the training of 37 church leaders in a Bible-based method of healing the wounds of trauma. We went, compelled by the love of God to minister to his people.

However, flying into CAR was complicated for various reasons; the insecurity throughout the country, the lack of a strong, central government and very few US Embassy personnel on the ground in Bangui. On arrival, AIM’s pilot, Mike, was asked for documentation that he didn’t have with him. Documentation that he didn’t need to have. And then, correctly, he refused to pay a bribe.


Mission to Missionaries

Mission couldn’t happen without support services. In fact, our International Director likens the work of support services to being like the shaft of a spear. Mission partners on the field are like the tip of a spear, unable to be effective without the shaft. In equipping mission partners for the field or caring for them whilst they are there, AIM’s support services form a vital part of our vision of reaching the unreached in Africa with the gospel.

Africa Based Services (ABS) working largely out of Nairobi, Kenya provides a portion of the support services necessary for our work.

Incredible partners

That meant spending the night in an abandoned shipyard police post on the river. Mike shares, ‘Thankfully, Désiré Mboligassie, a church leader in CAR, was with me in the airport advocating on my behalf with all the officials. He stayed with me at night when they took us to a warehouse-type building and ‘checked’ us in. There was a fire burning on the floor, but no lights, water, toilets, beds or power.’

A day of meetings and arguments followed. ‘The US Embassy staff came and tried to help but ultimately we got nowhere. I wouldn’t pay a bribe; they wouldn’t let me go. Another night at the warehouse. This time, Daniel Aniwe, the Pastor of the church in Bangui, checked in with us and brought food.

The morning dawned and Désiré and Daniel supported me as we met with yet more officials. This time we had a breakthrough and found someone who wanted to uphold the law. We were freed and told to “forget the whole incident.” All of it, over, just like that.

Much of my life as a pilot is about serving and supporting mission. This incident showed me what incredible partners we serve.

A film about the heart of AIM AIR’s ministry

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