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Wisdom And Valor: John Testrake



In 1989 I arrived in Luanda, the capital city of Angola, to begin making good on my commitment to assist the churches in interior city of Huambo as they launched a healthcare project. Those were wild days of civil war: roads littered with landmines, random military attacks on nationals and foreigners alike, wide-spread hunger, and epidemics of cholera and typhoid. Travel to the interior was especially risky. Mission Aviation Fellowship had just stationed a plane in Angola, upon whom so much of our initiative depended. The pilot, an older man, was very warm, competent, and engaging in character. Over several days I discovered that this was John Testrake – the hero of TWA Flight 847, hijacked in 1985 from Athens to Beirut and Algiers.


I was reminded of John when I discovered that his grandson is one of the students in my public health class at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. What is so very striking to me about John Testrake is that he was a man of faith, fulfilling his ‘routine’ duties, when suddenly called upon to lead with wisdom and valor. Whether negotiating with terrorists, traversing the African outback, or confronting any of a myriad of challenges, may you and I do so with wisdom and valor.

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