Missionary pilot jailed in Mozambique 'finding comfort' in story of Joseph, wife says
After more than four months in prison, a Christian missionary pilot is finding comfort where so many others have — in the pages of Scripture.
Ryan Koher, a pilot for the U.S.-based ministry Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), was arrested in November 2022 along with two other MAF volunteers on suspicion of supporting insurgents in the war-torn nation of Mozambique.
According to MAF, they were arrested while preparing to help load vitamins and other supplies on a plane bound for an orphanage in Cabo Delgado, the northernmost province in Mozambique.
Since 2017, a rebel group believed to have links to the Islamic State has seized villages, churches and mosques in the northern region of the African nation, leaving hundreds dead.
Over the last five years, about 1 million people have fled their villages in Cabo Delgado as war rages between security forces and insurgents.
Through its local partner Ambassador Aviation, MAF says it has flown supplies to various orphanages yearly since 2014.
Since his arrest, Koher has struggled with a medical condition that causes him to suffer from itching that affects his sleep.
After Koher's request for bail was denied in early February, Ryan's wife, Annabel — who, along with their two young sons, Elias and Hezekiah, made the journey to Mozambique — told The Christian Post they do expect the investigation to be concluded "soon." However, no court date has been set.
"We're hopeful for news soon regarding that, but we don't have a definite date," she told CP via video on March 7.
In the meantime, Annabel said Koher's attorney is working closely with the U.S. Embassy to ensure due process and providing assistance however they can.
To date, no charges have been filed in what is still an ongoing investigation, Annabel told CP.
After speaking to Koher on March 6, Annabel said he "sounded so much more upbeat" than their previous conservation and that he's finding relief from his medical condition after a prison clinic provided a special cream for his itching.
While an embassy official confirmed with Annabel that there were no issues related to Koher's personal safety and health in prison, she said he has looked to one of the more famous Old Testament accounts for reassurance of God's sovereignty and providence as he awaits the next stage in the legal process.
"He is finding comfort in the story of Joseph and how even through all the trials that Joseph had that God was still with him, God had a plan for him through all of that, and so he's really finding comfort in God's Word at this time," she said.
Despite this trial facing Koher and his family, Annabel said his ministry is bearing fruit by helping bring relief for refugees and Bible translation services to the Koti and the Makonde tribes in northern Mozambique.
"Ryan really has a heart for serving the Lord, and he has a passion for aviation. And so MAF was a way that he could bring that passion that God gave him together with his desire to serve the Lord," said Annabel.
There's also what Annabel called a "growing" Evangelical church of about 10,000 people in the region.
"The people just have a burning desire to know the Lord, to know the truth, and to read Scripture in their language," she said. "So through the Bible translation to these unreached people groups, we are really seeing the Lord move."
Ultimately and understandably, Annabel said she is praying for God to use Koher's time in prison for His glory and bring him safely back to his family.
She's asking believers to pray for Koher's itching condition, for comfort, for God's wisdom to speak truth to the various people he encounters while he's detained and for his release.
"Obviously, overall, we would pray that he would be released and that the prosecutor would realize … that Ryan didn't do anything wrong, and that he should be free and he would dismiss the case, that Ryan would be released and be home with us soon," she said.
Anyone who wishes to send encouragement to Annabel is asked to do so by emailing her at prayforpilotRyan@maf.org.
Ian M. Giatti is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.