Standing up in front of fourty sunday school kids, singing a song while turning around and sticking out my tongue – man that was a new expereince. For the last two sundays I have visited a church in Sri Lanka and a church in India. In both churches our small group of ship’s crew were able to encourage the Sunday School kids with a programme of around one hour.
We taught them songs in english, did a ship quiz, told a story from the bible and had time to sit with them and answer questions. God has been taking me on a journey of learning to interact with and encourage younger children – and in trusting Him I am slowly learning.
For those who would love to travel the world, the Logos Hope brings the world to them. I share a cabin with a man from Korea and a man from France. In fact, we have over 45 nationalities onboard. So when we put on a show, it’s a taste of world culture. Mexican dancing, Korean fan dance, a Finnish signer, a special chinese instrument, drama – the lineup of performances was by far the ship’s best – but what made this event great was not the performances, but the audience.
Having changed our plans a day before, we decided to setup for International Night right outside the ship in the open air. Anybody who saw the stage came to sit down. With a thousand people watching, we performed the cultural dances and songs that we practiced hard for. And when we had drawn a huge crowd, we performed a drama about the prodigal son. And to explain the meaning of the drama, the MC gave the message of salvation that is so needed in this place.
As a lighting engineer my part in this started early in the morning bringing equipment out from the ship and setting it up. I had many helpers for which I am very thankful. Seeing the show lit well and looking very attractive – drawing the crowds, was a great feeling. And serving behind the scenes to make something like this a relaity is something I’ve always dreamed about. I thank God for allowing me to be a part of such an amazing ministry by using the skills that he has given me to serve him.
“We saw many naval ships on the horizon, ships going for war, but we saw very few book ships. Now we have ships bringing knowledge into our ports.”
“Such a multinational grouping for a nobel cause in itself sets a worthy illustration of global unity”
These were some of the kind words spoken by our honoured guests on arrival in Galle, Sri Lanka. Only two years after the close of a devestating civil war that spanned most of my lifetime, the people of Sri Lanka have shown that a ship with peaceful purpose is a sight for sore eyes. With over 400 crew members from more than 45 nations working together in peace (most of the time!) we are a light to the nations. How can we do it? On our own, we simply can’t. It’s too hard to work with so many different cultures on board. But with the help of the Holy Spirit we seek to honour each other and serve together in a community of believers with one goal – to serve Him.
Again, we must change our plans. We will no longer visit the port that we wanted to visit, because the ship is not ready to sail.
Twice now in our South Asian tour, we have needed to change our plans because we felt that the ship – which is undergoing heavy maintenance – is not ready to sail the high seas. Many of us were looking forward to ministry in the planned ports, but were told that we will remain where we are and extend our opening hours.
In times like this it is easy to question God. To ask ‘Are you really looking after this ministry – or have you forgotten about us?’. Sometimes it is tempting to blame others or to blame our circumstances. How could so-and-so let this happen? How can we keep our faith?
Yet each time, I have met with people who said they couldn’t come during the regular opening hours, yet they were able to come when the ship extended it’s visit. My friend Juli was away from the ship and his return flight was delayed such that he would have missed the ship if it had not stayed put. I have had great opportunities to connect with Indian people and given them tours of the ship. We can see some of the reasons for staying in India an extra week, but some reasons we will only know in heaven.
“For I know the plans I have for you” Says the Lord “Plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” – Jer 29:11
No matter what your job is on Logos Hope – it’s hard to escape the fast pace of life onboard. Wether it is the endless crowds of customers in the book exhibition, the piles and piles of dishes to wash or in my case event after event – it begins to wear us down. This week was a very different week indeed. We called it Sabbath Week. A week set apart for the lord. We were closed to the public, so each person only worked one out of the six days doing essential tasks like cooking, cleaning, and marine operations.
Each day we had a time of worship where we opened our hearts to God. He came and renewed our spirits and restored our strength. Each day we had teaching that helped us to trust God with those things we’ve been waiting on Him for, and to renew our love for one another and the world.
I really enjoyed this time because I could spend time in God’s presence and be renewed. I saw that my friends had also given to God those things that they struggled with. I also enjoyed the time to just relax with friends and enjoyed each other’s company. One day we were able to go on a houseboat along some canals – again a truely unique experience. Another day we had a film festival where we all dressed up and watched films made by the crew. Then awards were given like at the Oscars.
I am reminded in all of this how I need to take time out of my busy life to make space for God, and to spend in fellowship with others – not just once a year, but daily – for I am too busy not to pray.
“i just wish i could remember the words to Waltzing Matilda” i thought to myself. I was in the house of the pastor of a church in rural India and since they were not so fluent in English we had begun to exchange cultural songs. This week I had the opportunity to visit many churches in Kerela, India, to present the ship, give my testimony, and give messages of encouragement. After each service we were invited to share a meal with the pastors of each church. Each family put on a banquet of Indian food for us, which I absolutely loved. After the meal we would have fellowship together. As I stumbled my way through the verses of Waltzing Matilda the smiles on their faces told me I had connected with them.
Then came the real treat. Their two daughters performed for us a song in the local language (Malayalam) and they even danced as well. The tune was stuck in my head for many days. When we were finished we spent some time to pray with the family. It was very difficult to say goodbye as we had had such a great time with them. It is true indeed that wherever you go you have a family in the Lord.
“Thank you for visiting Logos Hope, the world’s largest floating book-fair, my name is Chris and I’m from Australia”. I’m speaking on a microphone before a small crowd of people who have just arrived at the ship after a long wait and a bumpy bus ride. They are about to enter the book fair and browse our selection of books, and it’s my job to tell them how to work out the price of the books and where to find the bathroom. In speaking briefly with one of the crowd he said to me “I am so glad that you are open again this week because I was unable to come before – and I brought my family with me”.
You see this week is unlike any other time I have been on the ship. We have been delayed by two weeks in Sri-Lanka because some repairs took longer than we hoped. So we opened the book fair again and sent people out to tell the city that we are open again – but unusually we aren’t hosting any events so there is very little work to do in AV. For this reason I was able to live my dream this week and work in the book fair for 6 days. I have volunteered my time there often when they are short on staff, but only for an hour or two here and there. I have prayed for the opportunity to work there for a longer time without leaving AV and this week God said ‘Yes!’. He is good!
To see first-hand a variety of people of different walks of life and beliefs on the ship and browsing our good books and meeting crew members gives me a new perspective on what God is doing on this ship and new enthusiasm for this ministry.
“Open your bibles, what does it say: ‘In the beginning God…’ Stop there. Now, who is this book all about? You? No.” In our busy lives on the ship working in AV with programs one after the other sometimes we forget the simplest things. Life is not all about ourselves and what we can get out of it – we didn’t come to the ship to work, that is what we left behind. No, we came to worship – worship with our hands and our heads, with the skills he has given us and with the strength he provides.
Ian Currey from OmniVision came to the ship for a week to spend some time with the AV team training us in the how, what, when and (most importantly) why of AV. Since we have extended our stay in Sri Lanka but we have no events to run – we have been blessed with the time to sit at the feet of someone more experienced and learn some of the things we can’t learn on the job.
Thinking about what Ian said in the training, I noticed that I often look at what I do on a day-to-day business as work, not worship. I am using my own strength to complete the tasks before me and operating as I would in my job at home. Once I was asked to do something over lunch time and I was quite upset that I would miss lunch with my friends. While it’s good to have boundaries and not always say yes – it seems clear to me now that I am not always making my service on board an act of worship to God.
Next year I would really like to go to Omnivision in the U.K. for two or more years. I would be a part of AV for huge Christian events in Europe and creating videos promoting the work that OM does around the world.