(MNN) — The U.S. State Department is swamped with a backlog of millions of
passport applications. They're on track to issue more than 17 million passports this year,
according to a department spokesman
Those applications resulted from a law enacted earlier this
year requiring all American citizens to present a U.S. passport upon returning home by air from Canada, Mexico,
Bermuda or the Caribbean.
Passport offices are hiring an extra 400 personnel by the
end of September, and the State Department expects to clear the backlog by then. In the meantime, the delays in passport
processing mean that honeymoon plans and family vacation plans are falling
It's bad enough when it's just two or three, or even a small family. But what happens when it's a short-term missions team of 25 or 30? The logistics can be mind-boggling, dealing with passports, visas and other travel plans.
How has the backlog been affecting short-term mission teams? E3 Partners' Tom Doyle says theirs is a story similar to what many other mission agencies are experiencing. "We have had many people that have just not been able to go on
a missions trip because they applied four months ahead, and they did not get
their passports." He issues this sage advice, "If you're remotely
interested in a trip, get a passport. That's the first thing because there's
such a backlog."
Doyle says obstacles like these can discourage a first-time
short-termer. But there's something
greater at stake. "Satan doesn't want us to spread the Gospel. Satan doesn't want us to be salt and light in
the nations. We know that when we sign up there's going to be
this warning sign, 'Danger Ahead.' One of
the new developments is just the whole passport thing."