After a wonderful refreshing time in St. Lucia called Sabbath week, the ship moved on to our next port of call, Guyana. It is a long way from St. Lucia to Guyana so the journey through the rough atlantic ocean took 48 long hours, most of which I’d rather forget. I must have spent 50 hours altogether in my bed (we left port at 8am), and as far as I can tell most of my team felt sick for the whole time as well so I gave them the two days off, all except for Joy who strangely seemed completely unaffected.
When I finally emerged from my cabin I found myself in Georgetown, Guyana. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgetown,_Guyana The water in the river is a rich brown colour, the quayside is more of a wooden peir, the ship is tied to some wooden posts and all around is barbed wire and tin roofs. To me it looks like something from Africa. The ship is open only till sundown and we are not to go out at night. We are taking anti-malaria pills and applying mosquito repellant. To me, it seems that this port is very scary. To others, they feel like they have finally arrived at the place where God has called them. Certainly there are some amazing ministry opportunities in this country, and it’s easy to judge a country by what you hear and miss all the good things.
In fact, we are sending out 15 teams of people to stay onshore with local christians and do building projects, dramas, evangelism and other ministries. There is also a medical and a dental team going out from the ship to do some free medical ministry amongst the Guyanese people. I have released three of my five team members to go on these challenge teams while the rest of us keep the onboard events running. I feel very satisfied in staying onboard and working a little harder so that others can go out and spread God’s love in practical and spiritual ways.
I have said to a few people now that I have never felt like a missionary in the traditional sense. I am fully prepared to give an account of my faith should someone ask me about it, as every Christian should be, and I am passionate about helping others to share the good news through the talents God has given me. We are all a part of the body of our Lord Jesus, and we all have different functions, but none is more important than any other.
Last Saturday night I had the privilege of leading an AV team of 11 people in a top notch production. nearly 400 local young people came to a youth event where they were challenged to make their faith count and not to be luke warm. Most stayed for the entire message and listened attentively where normally most people would walk out. It was very encouraging to be a part of it.
In Vieux Fort, St. Lucia the Ship’s company was able to participate in a Sabbath week. The ship was closed to the public so many people who work with visitors were able to help out in other departments so everyone worked only one or two days in the week. The focus of Sabbath week was to regroup, refocus, and reconnect with God – not that we should ever be disconnected. A guest speaker came to teach us about the Tabernacle of old testament times and the bronze alter and basin and the holy place with the showbread and the golden alter and the most holy place – the holy of holies, where the high preist would enter once a year to make attonment for the sins of the people. We learned in detail how these elements of worship, submission and approaching God were a foreshaddow to the work of Christ and the relationship we now have with the Father. The crew were encouraged to move into the Holy of Holies, since Christ has torn the veil and ushered us in so we may worship the Father.
My team and I worked a little more than some others, but we were able to attend all the sessions and really refresh ourselves, and we were a big help in blessing the ship’s company.
A tabernacle is set up in the Hope Theatre for a demonstration
“More than books – a whole new experience” is the motto for Logos Hope in the Caribbean. Little did the crew know that the recent visit to Barbados would prove just how true the motto is. For many on board, being forced to go to anchor due to bad sea conditions was more than frustrating. It prevented people from coming on board for more than half of the port stay. However, it also opened up new avenues to build relationships with people on shore and gave crew the chance to see their commitment differently. A renewed vision seems to have been born for the ports Logos Hope visits, as people were inspired to pray when they couldn’t act. As a result, those on and off the ship saw God working in ways they never could have imagined.
— Logos Hope communications team.
Do you recognise the style of building in the photo above? That’s right – it’s a nightclub. It’s probably one of the best equipped facilities in Barbados for clubgoers, and not only that, it also has a reputation among locals for all types of immorality. So what am I doing in this place? Am I doing club evangelism? Not exactly no.
Recently, this club ran into financial difficulties and had to shut down. The owners contacted a Christian missionary couple who had some contact with the club while it was running. They offered to sell the facility and it’s rights to this couple. Thinking of the absurdity of owning such a place, they said no. But in praying about it they felt God urging them to buy it. They received a number of confirmations from God. So they purchased the club and re-opened the doors. They are continuing for the most part to run it as it was before. Music is still played and alcohol is still dispensed. The owners pray consistently for the patrons and recognise that as owners they have some authority over the place. They will try, I suppose, to reach people within this framework.
On Friday nights they have a ‘Christian night’, where they only use the main auditorium and have christian artists come to perform. This particular night there was a youth event run partly by the ship and also featuring many local Christian artists. There were an OK number of people there, but more people would be better. Please pray that more non believers would attend the Friday night concerts and hear the Gospel, and also that people would be impacted by the different atmosphere of the club under Christian management.
I awoke one morning to the sound of the public address system. It was the captain’s voice. “Good morning ship’s company” he said. And you know that if the captain is speaking it’s going to be something important. He went on to anounce that we would be leaving the port immediately (and it was around 6am) and going to anchor a few kms off the coast. Bad weather nearby had caused large swells and the ship was being damaged in port. I went back to sleep since it was my day off.
It occured to me later that we would stay at anchor for a few days – in fact it turned out to be a week and a half – and for all that time we could not have any ministry onboard and we were very limited on what we could do onshore. On the first day the captain allowed the use of our rescue boat (up to 6 people) to take people to and from the shore – only on business. Then later we hired a service to pick people up, and this weekend we were able to use the 80 person lifeboats to do ministry ashore.
While we were essentially stuck on the ship we had an extra prayer night and movies and nintendo on the big screen to keep us from going crazy. I participated in a leadership training course to help me in my new position. The AV team was able to relax a litte as there were no onboard events and only a few more community events.
As I entered the church the music had started and the pastor was praying. Smartly dressed lady ushers stood at the door to welcome me as I entered the small church building carying a box of props for a missions presentation. We were guided right to the front pew of this traditionally furnished church building to sit in the front row. Though traditional in it’s furnishings, the band was lively and loud and the pastor was almost shouting his prayer above the music. Adorned in my sunday best, complete with purple tie and my white skin, I – along with 3 others from the ship – stood out like a sore thumb. The worship began. What surprised me most at that moment is that it was an old chorus from 60 or 70 years ago! They performed it as if it was brand new and there was no missing the presence of God’s Holy Spirit. As we continued to sing it occured to me that we had been singing for quite some time, and had repeated many verses over, but still I was delighted to worship the Lord in such a way. And then finally the time came for the very reason we had visited this church.
We had come to give a missions presentation and share our testimonies using volunteers from the audience and various props. The aim was to show them how much of the world has been reached with the gospel, and what is being done to continue it’s advance.
If the world were represented by ten people, then only one of these ten people would be born again, bible believing Christians who place their faith in Jesus Christ, whom they confess as their Lord and Saviour. Another two people would be nominal christians who may attend church occasionally and call themselves christians, but are not saved. And a further three people would have heard the gospel of Jesus but for one reason or another not responded to it. These are ‘reached non-christians’. So the gospel has covered approximately 60% of the world’s population. Of the unreached, one person would be Muslim, one would be Hindu, one would be Budhist and one would come from China. Though there are many more nations and religeons – these are the big four.
If the world’s christian missionaries were then represented by ten people, then only one of these 10 would work in the unreached world where people have not heard the gospel even once. 3 would work amongst the reached non-christians and 6 would work amongst nominal christians. “The harvest is plenty but the laborers are few, therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out more workers into the harvest field”.
Many in the church were amazed at the imbalance of missionaries in the unreached world, I hope and pray they will seek God as to how they can help. Maybe it is by going, maybe it is by praying or giving or mobilising. The other three gave their testimonies to the church and the pastor concluded the service.
After church we were invited to someone’s house for sunday lunch. It was a fantastic time to chat with local Christians and fellowship with them. I thank God for a great experience and the chance to encourage others to join the mission.