At the start of September, I and 9 others from Above Bar Church, Southampton went to spend a couple of weeks living in and working on board the Logos Hope Ship as part of the mission organisation Operation Mobilisation.
For the duration of the time we were there, the ship was docked in the south of the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean.
After stopping off at New York, we arrived on the ship and were given a tour around the massive cruise ship which contains almost 500 full-time crew members, and thousands of books ready to be given out and sold to the locals.
“With around 60 different nationalities represented on board, the Logos Hope community is regarded as a genuine expression of international goodwill and understanding. The crew and staff are all non-salaried volunteers—including many serving in their professional capacity, such as seafarers, engineers, electricians, nurses, teachers and cooks.
The age of those on board ranges from retirees to children of families serving on board. Most of the crewmembers are in their 20’s or 30’s. From the captain to the newest staff member, each person has a job that is essential to keeping the ship running. Most people serve for two years.
Although the main aim of the ship is to serve people in the port communities, those on board also benefit personally during their term of service. A structured training programme, combined with work experience and cross-cultural encounters, provides crewmembers with valuable opportunities to learn new skills and develop character.”
During my time there, as part of a team to help out with the work-load on the ship and gain a vision for how God was using the ship, I realised how incredible this mission actually was.
One of the things that really stood out to me, apart from the crew’s passion for sharing the good news and helping locals on shore, was their breathtaking God-shaped community that had formed on the ship.
As part of George Verwer’s original vision, I was amazed at how so many Christians live in fellowship together in a self-sustaining community all with the same purpose in what they do for Christ, from the Angels (cleaning and laundry) to the Cooks, everyone on board had a unique part to play in the crew and they all made the most of whatever came their way.
Ship Ministry began in 1970 as part of the global Christian training and outreach movement, OM International. Since then OM’s ships have visited 480 different ports in 151 countries and territories and welcomed over 46 million visitors on board.
A few days into our trip, we found out about the hurricane headed towards us. At that time it was due to pass over many of the Caribbean islands, described as a “potentially catastrophic category 5 hurricane, bringing life-threatening wind of speeds up to 185mph, storm surges and rainfall hazards”.
As a result, the captain of the ship decided it was best that we left the island and sailed out to sea to evade the storm. We appreciated the many prayers for us that people back home had been praying for our protection, and thankfully, God safely guided us away from the storm.
Though we didn’t get many opportunities to outreach to the locals whilst on the ship, I did however get many chances to work alongside the crew, from cleaning the toilets, to working in the garbage management room, and even working on the top deck!
Each morning after breakfast we would have community devotions where everyone on the ship would join together to praise God together and learn more from his word. Following this we had department devotions before joining together to start work as one body of Christ with many parts.
We arrived back onto the island a few days later on the Friday but were still thinking about all those on the other islands who had been affected a lot worse where some islands were left completely inhabitable with many deaths recorded.
Looking back on the trip, I can see how Christian fellowship in such a community as this is possible, though it may not be perfect. With everyone having God’s loving heart for each other and the locals they meet, Logos Hope really has become a beacon of hope for so many nations and one that I could very well be a part of in the future.