The coronavirus continues to spread throughout the world, now having infected over 12 million people and resulted in over 550,000 deaths, according to data collected by the Coronavirus Research Center at Johns Hopkins University. And it is having a serious effect on the nearly 6 million Americans living, studying and traveling overseas.
Many were brought back by a series of emergency State Department flights earlier this year, but the majority are unable to leave and remain in countries where, with the rise of the severity of the disease, they find themselves in serious situations.
In a little-known example of why history counts, few people are aware that the post-war State Department was founded by John Foster Dulles, whose father was a pastor and grandfather a missionary to India. He did this based in part on the network of American missionaries worldwide, beginning with those with whom his family was acquainted.
It was his belief that these missionaries, living in their various countries with relationships, history and more, were the best suited to be able to help.
Building most of the hospitals, schools and other facilities throughout the world and ministering to human need from refugee to war situations, the army of American missionaries, now numbering nearly 140,000, has transformed the world.
Amazingly, that network, established in 1951, still exists and has been mobilized to help with the pandemic and in particular, help the nearly 6 million Americans overseas.
The worldwide network has been providing in-country assistance. This has included helping a mother with a 5-month old baby urgently trying to get back to America, assisting an American who has just gotten a positive test result to be admitted to a hospital and providing emergency information for fellow Americans stranded and unable to understand the language as well as providing emergency lodging, food and emergency supplies.
Since the disease has now spread to at least 213 countries worldwide, the situation for Americans is extremely precarious in many countries with a limited American consular presence. Since their own citizens take priority in these countries, Americans are often unable to get proper treatment and help.
It is precisely in these situations where American missionaries with their personal relationships and often decades of experience are able to help. What was originally a mail and telephone system of getting help to those in need is now an online system that puts any American in need with the closest American missionary who can assist them.
With decades living in the country, the nearly 140,000 local Americans Missionaries are able to get through "red tape," help with emergency assistance and information and be there for fellow Americans in need.
Anyone with a family member overseas in need can simply go to theworldhelpline.org and press "help" to get connected with the closest American missionary.
The World Helpline urgently needs unused airline miles, emergency supplies and used iPhones to provide for Americans overseas to help fellow Americans in need, as well as 1,000 new volunteers to keep it going. Contact the organization at theworldhelpline.org
Amir George is the author of Liberating Iraq and directs The World Helpline at theworldhelpline.org.
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