By Joe DeCaro BosNewsLife Special Correspondent
ORLANDO, FLORIDA (BosNewsLife) — U.S.-based Bible translation group Wycliffe Associates (WA) is raising funds and providing volunteers to restore and reopen airstrips in Papua New Guinea to evacuate missionaries for medical reasons should the need arise, an official said in comments monitored by BosNewsLife Friday, January, 30.
Most travel in the Pacific nation is done by air as its mountainous terrain and thick jungles make travel difficult and time-consuming, said WA President and Chief Executive Officer Bruce Smith. “Time is of the essence in the case of a life-threatening situation. It’s hard for us in America to fathom the difficulty and the panic one faces when isolated in a jungle with an emergency,” he added.
There are up to 1,000 volunteers, Bible translators, support personnel, and children in Papua New Guinea at any given moment. Medical emergencies are inevitable, and air transport is their only “safety net,” the WA official explained.
In addition to medical emergencies, Smith said the airstrips and planes that often fly in and out of the country are crucial for the work of Bible translation.
Last year, 1,693 volunteers served in 35 countries as part of WA’s worldwide Bible translation teams, he said.
In 2009, the organization plans to send over 2,000 volunteers to 41 different countries for several projects, ranging from renovating facilities, constructing roads and airstrips, to teaching at a ‘Vacation Bible School’. (BosNewsLife MISSION WATCH is a regular look at missionaries working indifficult circumstances and missionary developments, especially in the two-thirds world, and other crisis areas.)