Florida UM helps prepare mobile clinics for tsunami survivors

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Florida UM helps prepare mobile clinics for tsunami survivors

Feb. 17, 2005    News media contact:  Michael Wacht*    
mwacht@flumc.org     Orlando  {0250}

An e-Review Feature
By Jenna De Marco**

TAMPA — Jim Wilson seems to be attracted to disasters. After helping Floridians deal with the aftermath of four hurricanes, he's now on the frontlines of tsunami relief efforts.
Wilson, a Tampa native, left his post helping the Florida Conference Storm Recovery Center to move on to assisting victims of the Southeast Asia tsunami disaster.
"The project I am helping with in Houston is medical clinics destined for Sri Lanka and Indonesia," Wilson said in an e-mail message.
Wilson's job includes assisting with the coordination and construction of mobile medical clinics that can be sent from the United States ready to serve patients in another country. His work takes place through Operation Blessing, the outreach arm of the Christian Broadcasting Network's 700 Club. One of its partners, The Christian Alliance for Humanitarian Aid (CAHA), in Pearland, Texas, helps provide the "mobile medical containers," he said. Operation Blessing assigned CAHA the task of constructing 12 containers.
Wilson said the construction is primarily a volunteer effort by United Methodist churches in the Houston District. Each 40-foot container is furnished to a local church and placed on its parking lot for work, Wilson said.

"The church provides about $5,000 to the ministry to cover the purchase and transportation of the container and then uses a furnished blueprint to convert the container into a small cubicle, which serves as exam and treatment rooms," Wilson said.

Each cubicle comes complete with generator power and water, and all the labor is completed by workers at the church, Wilson said. The church gives an additional $5,000 to cover these expenses. He said Clear Lake United Methodist Church in Clear Lake, Texas, constructed a complete container with about six volunteers in eight days.

"This project motivates people to mission and is a visible sign to the community to demonstrate that Methodists remain inspired by Wesley's adage that 'the world is our parish' and that we care about ministering to those who are poor, hungry, orphaned, victims of injustice or natural and human disasters," Wilson said.
Wilson noted the project also redirects a church's attention from being "maintenance-minded" to being missions-oriented.

Wilson said his own participation in disaster relief has affirmed he is following God's plan for him.
"My military career was dedicated to logistics support to save lives and always remain compassionate for those who sacrifice, as well as those who are vanquished," Wilson said.
Wilson retired from the United States Marine Corps in 1996 after 27 years as a logistician with training in humanitarian/disaster assistance planning. When he is not in disaster-relief mode, he attends various urban and ethnic United Methodist churches around Tampa, where he provides consultation and grant writing services to outreach ministries for at-risk children. Wilson has also helped coordinate past Florida Conference Children's Harvest initiatives.
"My heart's desire is to help people in poverty and diverse ethnic groups and missions to promote Kingdom work," Wilson said.
Wilson said the most important thing for United Methodists to know in the wake of the tsunami disaster is how United Methodists and the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) are responding.
"I would encourage all to be generous with UMCOR and with other partnering ministries, who have the expertise to convert donated funds to the right kind of relief, at the right place and at the right time," Wilson said.
He said it's best for caring individuals to allow the expert agencies to handle the type of relief given and distribution so appropriate help is provided.
"So folks should really pray about the best way to participate in such a massive relief effort and trust the experts, like UMCOR, who serve with compassion and experience," Wilson said.
After his grant with the Christian Alliance expires in March, Wilson said he's already been asked by another Christian organization to promote outreach ministry in Central America.


Monetary donations to UMCOR's "South Asia Emergency" relief efforts can be placed in local church offering plates or sent directly to UMCOR, 475 Riverside Drive, Room 330, New York, NY 10115. Designate checks for UMCOR Advance #274305 and "South Asia Emergency." Credit-card donations can be made online at http://www.methodistrelief.org or by calling 800-554-8583.

This article relates to Disaster Relief.

*Wacht is director of Florida United Methodist Communications and managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**De Marco is a freelance writer based in Viera, Fla.

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