For some years now I have had the honour of serving on various boards of Mercy Ships, the international charity which carries out medical relief and development work principally in Africa. Prior to me joining the Australian board our family lived on the mercy ship Anastasis for two years, spending our time in West Africa. Since our move to Sweden I have been on the board of Mercy Ships Sweden.
Today the Africa Mercy, the newest ship in Mercy Ships, sailed out of northern England on its maiden voyage to Liberia, West Africa. The Africa Mercy has undergone an extensive and expensive refit which has dragged on for eight years. It was with great rejoicing that the vessel finally crossed the channel to Rotterdam, where she is berthed tonight, and where she will remain for some weeks while further work is carried out on board, before sailing south for Africa.
Don Stephens, the founder of Mercy Ships, sent out an email to all board members just prior to the gangway being stowed, to announce the ship’s departure. In his email he quoted a passage from Psalm 124, specifically verses 6-8, likening the departure to “escaping like a bird out of the fowler’s snare.” He did not explain exactly why he thought this was appropriate, but presumably the continual delays have been for the ship like being trapped by a hunter.
I read the passage, and for me the verse that stood out was not so much the one about the fowler’s snare, but the last one, verse 8, which declares, simply,
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
This is what I, and so many others in Mercy Ships, believe passionately. Our help comes from the Creator God, and as we go into the future, we need to stand on that truth.
See also the article, New Ships, here