The Foreign Service Journal - December 2017

20 DECEMBER 2017 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL to Muslim families in Quiapo and took me to the Golden Mosque. In Rome, my various church contacts housed the legal permanent residents (LPRs) we had evacuated from Alba- nia but could not assist with onward travel from Italy. When the manage- ment at the Holiday Inn complained about those LPRs bedding down in the hotel hallways at about 10 p.m., I called Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, Mormons and Baptists. Every church took in some of the evacuees until all could be housed. In Hungary, I began to identify local resources to assist U.S. citizens in ways that the consular section could not. Many of those resources were graciously given by persons and institutions of faith. On one occasion, I had responsi- bility for a number of American prison- ers undergoing two full years of pretrial detention. It would be difficult to visit each of them monthly. Clergy Visits With that in mind, I asked each prisoner if they wanted visits by clergy. Two said yes—one a Baptist and the other Jewish. The rabbi who agreed to visit the Jewish prisoner did such a fantastic job that the other Jewish prisoner among the group eventually also asked for clergy visits. These visits were so important to the well-being of these prisoners that I vowed to make the offering of clergy visits to prisoners by consuls a universal practice, if I ever had the chance. That opportunity came when I became director of American Citizen Services back in Washington, D.C. The Bureau of Consular Affairs agreed immediately to my proposal to add the offer of clergy visits to the prison visit checklist for consuls worldwide. CA agreed, not for the purpose of propagating religion, which would be inappropriate, but to offer added and critical support to our imprisoned citizens. I estimate that about one third of prisoners, if asked, will opt for clergy visits. This additional support to imprisoned citizens abroad costs the U.S. government nothing. On another occasion, an American citizen experienced a serious medical issue in Budapest at a moment when I was both consul general and the control officer for a U.S. presidential visit event on Castle Hill. I asked the patient if he wanted a visit by clergy, and he said yes. The clergy member and his expatriate church stepped in and brought the American food and a television, and even picked up his family from the air- port and housed them. They took great care of this recover- ing citizen, and it cost the U.S. govern- ment—you guessed it—nothing! I was able to focus on the president’s visit knowing that this citizen was in good hands. Identifying Service Providers In the Philippines, Rome, Hungary, Russia and Hong Kong, we relied on local resources for our citizens in need (e.g., free food, shelter, counseling and more). I worked hard to build strong relationships with the providers of these essential services; to discover new ser- vice providers, and to close gaps where they existed. Not surprisingly, many of these providers were and are people of faith. Many of our wardens, it turns out, are also people of faith. When the Marine Security Guard on duty in Mos- cow passed me a call from a distressed American at 2 a.m., I reached out to an ACS contact, a pastor, who met me with his car at the embassy 20 minutes later. We took the American to church- funded lodging, and I gave him McDon- ald’s coupons. Three days later, he flew home. As director of American Citizen Ser- vices, I worked to systematize our track- ing of local resources worldwide and to strengthen the warden network. These initiatives were folded into Secretary of State John Kerry’s MissionOne program, and served to strengthen our protec- tions and services to our citizens at no cost to the government. Some of the energy for these ideas came from my extensive interactions with resource providers, who often had a faith-driven service mentality. As a person of faith, I was always comfort- able with these people, whether they were Christians, Muslims or Jews. Evacuating Ebola Victims On a Sunday afternoon in 2014, when State’s Bureau of Medical Services called to say that we needed to urgently evacuate an American missionary with As anyone who has served in West Africa will tell you, a lot of health services in the region are delivered by faith-based providers.