“Thank you for sharing with us today, I really enjoyed listening – you spoke so well” – It’s great to receive compliments like this, but even better still it’s great to see the ways in which God has helped me to grow over the last two years – and one of those is public speaking. When I left home two years ago standing on stage was a painful experience – I would break out in a sweat and stammer over my words, looking at my notes for some sort of help. During my time on board I found myself many times being asked to stand on a stage in a church and tell people about the ship or tell them about what God has done in my life. I won’t lie, this terrified me! But I soon realised that His strength is perfect when my strength is gone, so I said to God that I would do my best but He would have to get me through it, and I managed. Now after so many experiences like this, it has become much easier to trust Him. Last night I was speaking at Erina Community Baptist Church and as it was coming time for me to speak, I felt God challenge me to not just tell people what *I* had done, but to tell them what He had done through me. So my notes weren’t as helpful and it didn’t sound very practiced, but in the end God gave me the right words to encourage people that God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called – and also that He will reveal to us the next step at the right time, not sooner.
So after speaking at Erina and also at Green Point Christian College last Wednesday and at Grace Community Church two weeks ago, this completes my thanksgiving speaking tour. Early next year I will be visiting Churches to tell people what God has in store for me next at OMNIvision. I look forward to that.
Following a month in Carlisle in the north of England volunteering with OMNIvision, this week I was able to relax and spend some time with my girlfriend Ruth in London. I also had the chance to catch up with four other friends from the UK and one from Norway at a Chinese restaurant in London. Sitting at a table with a lot of friends from the ship brought back good memories of all the times we spent together and the friendships that we forged.
I am looking forward to coming home on November and catching up with everyone.
“Wow! I can see now that you jungle animals are just as smart and clever as circus animals!” I exclaimed to the ship kids who had just performed very well in some fun games like twister, limbo, acting, dancing and singing a song.
I’ve asked God to help me to be better with kids and so lately a few opportunities have come up to have fun with the kids on the ship and with those onshore. This opportunity was called ‘kids club’. A general invite went out to the crew and I signed up with some other crew who were more experienced. The goal was to just have a fun time with the kids and to love them – no special agenda behind it.
I acted as a circus trainer and did a small skit, helped run some of the games and in general just interacted with the kids. It’s a stretch for me, but it’s actually quite fun. I thank God for answering my prayer.
“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.
“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.
Easter eggs painted like famous figures like George Verwer, Easter sunday service on Saturday night and working on good Friday. This year’s Easter was not like the previous years on the ship.
This Easter the ship that I live on is in a dry dock – which means it’s out of the water for repairs to the hull and the engines. We work hard from 7am till 6pm and have many local workers come on board to help us complete the work on time. The dockyard is in South Asia, in a country where other world religions dominate the landscape and Christianity remains a minority – so there’s little allowance for us to stop work and reflect. But we did find time to have a special prayer evening on Thursday night, watch the passion of the Christ on Friday night and have a resurrection church service on Saturday night – Easter eve. Even though we were hard at work, it was impossible to escape the reality that Jesus suffered for us. The movie The Passion of the Christ really brings home the full impact of what he did for us. In church we were reminded that we will also undergo suffering and trials if we are to grow and share in his glory ‘If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.’ and ‘In this world you will have trouble but take heart, I have overcome the world’.
“I was three and a half years addicted to this game … I could be someone who I couldn’t be in real life … I started to cancel appointments with my friends and I stopped playing sport”. My friend Sander from Holland told the story of how he became addicted to an online game in his teenage years and how it prevented him from building meaningful relationships and hindered his walk with God.
Young people in Sri-Lanka are becoming increasingly engrossed in the online world. A place where social interaction is often cheap and shallow and true relationship is lost. In this unique youth event the ship’s younger people gave a challange to those visiting the ship to spend time apart from Facebook, MSN and SMS and build real friendships and spend time in the Word.
As an ex-gamer myself, I found the event had a powerful challenge whist not being overbearing. Social media technologies were never condemned and neither were online games, but both were put into perspective of a healthy Christian lifestyle.