From left, Brad Currie, Cathy Townsend, Arlin Mass and Joe Karabensh break ground on Missionary Flights International Hospitality Park.

FORT PIERCE —  Missionary Flights International joined together with friends, family members, and others from the public on Aug. 15 to celebrate in the groundbreaking for the MFI Hospitality Park held at 3163 Hammond Road just down the road from MFI facilities.

“In the 54 years of MFI’s history, this is the first significant piece of property that we have ever owned,” remarked MFI President, Joe Karabensh. “We’re thrilled to be able to minister to the mission community and volunteers through the construction of our Hospitality Park.”

Expected to be fully completed by 2021, the project is designed in three stages. First, a deluxe 12-lot RV park to be completed early 2019; second is a 6500 sq. ft. Hospitality Center to be completed by 2020; and, the third phase consists of six two-bedroom “Island Cottages” to be completed by 2021. The entire expansion will be debt free upon completion.

Among those present, special recognition was given to Mr. Arlin Maas, the leading patron for the Hospitality Park. “Besides his contribution,” Karabensh stated, “I just really want to thank Arlin for being right in the middle of all of the details for this project.” Other dignitaries who were present included Ms. Cathy Townsend, District 5 County Commissioner; Ms. Leslie Olson, St. Lucie County Planning & Development; Mr. John Wiatrak, Treasure Coast International Airport Manager; Mr. Doug Davis, General Contractor from R.K. Davis; Mr. Brad Currie, Vice President and Certified Planner and Ms. Trish Sesta with Engineering Design & Construction, Inc. Board members that were able to be present for the ceremony included Dr. David McEwen, Dr. Ron Giddens, and Mr. Tim Smith.

The 6500 sq. ft. Hospitality Center will have a large meeting room so that teams will have the ability to sit together for pre-field orientation, camaraderie, and debriefing after their field work. These facilities will also house missionaries that need to head back to the States for rest and relaxation, or to attend to medical needs at local hospitals.

MFI’s most exciting news happened just this past Sunday, August 12, when Jeff and April Essinger accepted a missionary role at MFI as Property Managers for the Hospitality Park. The Essingers served for a few years as full-time missionaries in the Dominican Republic. Recently
they found themselves back in the states to care for Jeff’s mother, unable to bring her back to the Dominican Republic with them. Just as with our MFI pilots and mechanics, the Essingers will need to raise their own financial support.”

Karabensh concluded in saying, “Volunteers will be given opportunity to come and stay with RVs or book a stay in the cottages throughout the year and especially during our season in the winter. Our desire is to help them have a passion for missions. Of our 3000+ passengers that travel with MFI every year, many of them are experiencing a mission trip for the first time and we want them to have the best experience possible. We want to see them stay involved with missions, financially support missions, or become full-time missionaries themselves.”

MFI is in the last stages for the final approval of permits. The next stage will be to mark all of the trees to be preserved and begin clearing next week. For more information on Missionary Flights International or how to become an affiliated mission, volunteer, or donor, please call 772-462-2395 or visit the website at

Missionary Flights International (MFI) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization located in Ft. Pierce, FL, at the Treasure Coast International Airport. We transport affiliated missionaries, supplies, and hope to the people of Haiti, Dominican Republic and the Bahamas. We serve as a loving and dependable link between those who serve on the front line and those who support them with prayers and donations.

This article was distributed through Treasure Coast Business, a news service for the readers and advertisers of Indian River Magazine.