Just before landing at the Palu airport, which is situated between two mountain ranges and frequently referred to by seasoned pilots as a "valley of death," Mafella "heard a voice in his heart" directing him to circle again before landing. Amid the unusually strong winds, Mafella recited Psalm 23: "I may walk through valleys as dark as death, but I won't be afraid. You are with me, and Your shepherd's rod makes me feel safe," he said.
After they landed, the Holy Spirit prompted Mafella once more that he needed to be quick, so he instructed his crew to take a shorter break. "I didn't even leave the cockpit and requested permission from the control tower to depart three minutes ahead of schedule," Mafella said.
When the time finally came to take off, Mafella "kept pushing the lever, causing the plane to speed up as it took off," he recalled. The devastating earthquake began to strike Palu at that moment, and both pilots felt the plane wobble from side to side. Mafella's co-pilot, a Muslim, looked at him with absolute terror.
"If I had taken off three minutes later, I would not have been able to save the 140 passengers, because the asphalt on the landing strip was moving up and down like a curtain blowing in the wind," Mafella said.
When the plane arrived in Ujung Pandang on its way to Jakarta, Mafella received the shocking news that there had been an earthquake and tsunami in Palu.
"It is important that we hear the voice of God," Mafella urged. "And whatever happens we must be calm, not in a panic, so that we can clearly hear the voice of God coming to us by the Holy Spirit."