Volcanic Ash Strands Mission Groups, Adoptive Parents

Michael Ireland | ASSIST News Service | Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Volcanic Ash Strands Mission Groups, Adoptive Parents

April 20, 2010

Among the millions of would-be air travelers stranded worldwide by volcanic ash from the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in Iceland are 22 members of a Salvation Army mission team from the Midwest.

Bob Von Sternberg, writing for the Star Tribune newspaper, says they're not even in Europe, ground zero of the chaos that has paralyzed airlines, but are on missions work in West Africa.

Von Sternberg says the group, which includes volunteers and Salvation Army employees from the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota), is stuck in Ghana, so far unable to get to Amsterdam to connect with their flight home.

He writes, "For the past week, the team members had been working in the city of Woe, building a roof on a Salvation Army meeting hall and teaching local students."

After their flights were canceled Friday, they found themselves stuck in a hotel in the capital city of Accra, Von Sternberg said.

According to the Salvation Army, although 19 of the 22 have confirmed tickets from Amsterdam to the Twin Cities on Tuesday, they've been unable to book tickets to Amsterdam.

Members of the group, ages 15 to 77, financed the trip themselves, the Salvation Army reported. Two have become ill, with one hospitalized after suffering dehydration.

MyFox9.com, the local Fox News affiliate in the Twin Cities, says members of the mission team have been working in Woe, Ghana since April 10.

"At the latest, we must leave Ghana on Monday to catch our flight out of Amsterdam," Major Darryl Leedom, Salvation Army Twin Cities commander and organizer of the missions trip, told the TV station.

MyFox9.com also reported the temperature in Accra is 90 degrees with 100 percent humidity.

The TV station says that according to geologists in Iceland the situation could last longer than they expected. 

The volcanic activity was "quite vigorous" Friday night and shows no sign of abating, and forecasters say light prevailing winds in Europe mean that the situation is unlikely to change in the coming days.

Aviation experts say the plume has caused the worst travel disruption Europe has ever seen, except during wars, MyFox9.com reported.

Meanwhile, London's Premier Radio says thousands of people hoping that flights in and out of the UK could recommence soon were left stranded again Monday when it was decided that the flight ban would stay in place until at least 1am on Tuesday UK time.

On day five of the lockdown on all flights in the UK and most of Northern Europe, air traffic control company Nats said conditions around the movement of the volcanic ash cloud over the UK "remained dynamic."

In a bid to help those stranded, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced that two Royal Navy warships have been deployed to the English Channel to rescue stranded Britons.

HMS Ark Royal and HMS Ocean are ready to start a relief mission and the UK's Transport Secretary Lord Adonis says governments are working hard to find a solution.

But, on the ground it is a sorry state of affairs for people with plans dashed and uncertainty abounding.

Rosalind, one of Premier Radio's listeners, is worried about members of her family stranded in different parts of the world. Her 13 year-old son is stuck at a football tournament in Spain.

She told the radio station: "He said now he is stuck and does not have any money, although they are in a hotel in Madrid. I am very much concerned because he is not the only one.

"I‘ve got my niece and my brother in Sierra Leone. They went to my father's anniversary and they are stuck there."

Ex-British Naval officer Mike Critchley is a Christian trying to get home from Italy by train. He's been part of the NEXT WAVE mission trip run by the youth charity Marine Reach.

"We don't have any seats. We have not been able to buy a ticket because the machines do not take UK credit cards. The big unknown is what's going to happen when we get to Rome," he said.

The international charity World Vision has had to cancel a major conference on child health in Dublin. Organizer Kate Eardley says they just can't get delegates to the venue.

She said: "We were expecting between 40-50 invited guest including Irish MPs (Members of Parliament), four Ambassadors from African countries and also we were expecting a visit from the minister of state from Ireland for overseas aid. It's a real blow for us."

Pressure is now mounting on the British Government to end the ban which has left more than 150,000 Britons stranded abroad and an estimated cost of the airport shutdowns at around £130GBP million (nearly $200USD million) a day.

The Association of European Airways Sunday called for an "immediate reassessment" of the restrictions as British Airways yesterday claimed that a two-hour test flight encountered no problems while flying from Heathrow to Cardiff.

Transport ministers from across the continent will hold a video-conference later to discuss the ban and its effects.

A Caribbean leader attempting to attend the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) meeting of Regional General Secretaries in Izmir, Turkey, was not able to make the event.

Bishop Gerald (Gerry) A. Seale, Secretary General and CEO of the Evangelical Association of the Caribbean told ANS: "I got as far as New York and had to return to Barbados, and WEA International Director, Geoff Tunnicliffe, has been stuck in London.

"Some of the others made it to the meeting as they were not flying through Europe. Geoff and I have been able to use Skype to participate in parts of the meeting," said Bishop Seale.

Bishop Seale also said the European Evangelical Alliance's General Assembly was to have started Monday night in Izmir.

"This is a critical meeting as a new General Secretary is to be installed and all that goes with a transition of officers. That General Assembly cannot now take place because of the travel restrictions."

In an urgent communiqué to Australian supporters of Barnabas Fund, which works to support Christian communities around the world where they are facing poverty and persecution, the group says that Barnabas Fund meetings in Melbourne and Tasmania have been canceled.

The communiqué says: "Due to a volcanic eruption in Iceland which has brought about the closure of all airports in the UK since Thursday, Dr Patrick Sookhdeo has been unable to fly out of London. Regretfully, this has meant he will be unable to fulfil his speaking engagements in Melbourne, Launceston and Hobart planned for Saturday 17 to Tuesday 20 April.

"We are very disappointed about missing the opportunity to meet the many friends and supporters of Barnabas Fund in Victoria and Tasmania. We ask you to continue to pray that the Lord will open the way for Dr Sookhdeo to be able to travel to Australia to fulfill other engagements in Sydney, New Zealand and North Queensland later in April and May."

Sookhdeo is a British Anglican canon who is also the director of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity and of the Barnabas Fund. Sookhdeo is an outspoken spokesman for persecuted Christian minorities around the world, and has made many media appearances in Great Britain as an advocate for human rights and freedom of religion.

Sookhdeo is also known as a commentator on jihadist ideology, and has lectured British and NATO military officers on radical Islam.

After a little over eleven months, Kim de Blecourt and her family from Holland, Michigan, were finally finishing the international adoption of their four-year-old son, Jake, when the volcano virtually trapped them in Ukraine.

"We were able to obtain all the legal documents necessary to get his American Visa, and get him across the Ukrainian border before the prosecutor decided to come after us...again," said Kim.

"Then, a friend mentioned something about a volcano, and the possibility of it interrupting our 'escape' plans..."

The de Blecourts spent Friday night and all day Saturday in the Kiev airport, waiting for their flight to take off. It never did.

"My two children, (my biological daughter, Jacey, who is 9 years old, and Jake) and I all boarded the overnight train to Odessa (12 hours), and met a Ukrainian believer there who personally drove us across the border and into a neighboring country, where we are currently with fellow believers and new friends."

Kim says Jake, "is now safe from the man who turned our adoption dream into a nightmare -- praise the Lord! We are now relaxing a little, and waiting for God to clear the air and bring us all the way home."

A British ministry leader, whose his wife and friend are stuck in Doha, Qatar, said: "She took some of those (who were) stuck to church with her as they were bored, and last I heard she was organizing a party!"

Copyright 2010 ASSIST News Service.