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Ebola Crisis Provides Glimpse Into Samaritan’s Purse, SIM

A Nigerian health official wearing a protective mask waits to screen passengers at the arrivals hall of Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria, Monday, Aug. 4, 2014. Nigerian authorities on Monday confirmed a second case of Ebola in Africa's most populous country, an alarming setback as officials across the region battle to stop the spread of a disease that has killed more than 700 people. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
A Nigerian health official wearing a protective mask waits to screen passengers at the arrivals hall of Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria, Monday, Aug. 4, 2014. Nigerian authorities on Monday confirmed a second case of Ebola in Africa’s most populous country, an alarming setback as officials across the region battle to stop the spread of a disease that has killed more than 700 people. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

 

(The Washington Post) – Dent Thompson had never heard of Samaritan’s Purse when the Christian relief group called last month and asked for his help.

Samaritan’s Purse and another global ministry group, SIM, were scrambling to transport two ­Ebola-stricken U.S. missionaries from Liberia to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta for treatment. They had learned from government officials that Thompson’s company, Georgia-based Phoenix Air Group, had a specially designed Gulfstream III with a one-of-a-kind isolation unit developed precisely for emergency medical evacuations. They wanted to send the plane to West Africa right away.

“They were beyond distraught that two of their people were stuck in Africa with no apparent way to get them out of there,” Thompson recalled. “Samaritan’s Purse indicated to us that they would hire anybody with the ability to pull them out…. We gave them a price, and they agreed to the price.”

The drastic measures to rescue the missionaries point to the global reach and deep pockets of Samaritan’s Purse, which last year raised hundreds of millions of dollars in contributions and received tens of millions in federal grants. Though the group has a relatively low profile in the United States, it operates on the front lines of public health crises and natural disasters around the world.

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