Nearly a quarter of the staff of Operation Blessing International (OBI), including the chief medical officer, left the medical mission February 14 over differing visions of the organization's objectives.
Dr. Paul R. Williams and 10 other employees in his medical division of 15 sought trips in more remote areas where the population has not been evangelized. OBI management, however, wants to focus on urban areas where the ministry's "flying hospital," a converted L1011 wide-bodied jet (CT, Aug. 12, 1996, p. 60), can land at airports. Operation Blessing is a part of Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) in Virginia Beach.
Williams supervised a January OBI trip along the Amazon River in Brazil without the flying hospital. Gene Kapp, CBN vice president of public relations, says that in the future, "Operation Blessing is no longer initiating nonairplane-related trips."
The flying hospital has treated more than 18,000 people in El Salvador, Panama, and Ukraine since its launch in May 1996. The organization relies heavily on volunteers for its missions and has taken between 150 and 200 on each trip.
Williams has formed a new medical mission in Virginia Beach, Y'shua Medical Ministries, which will work with Messianic Jews, particularly in Muslim-dominated areas of what is known as the 10/40 window.1