[notice]Operation Mobilisation Ships CEO Peter Nicoll is in South Africa training on leadership development. Bonnie Mentel met him in Pretoria where they chatted about unusual ministry opportunities opened up by the ship, Logos Hope which has had more than 3 million visitors in the last three years.[/notice]Operation Mobilisation (OM) Ships International operates the world’s largest floating book fair. At each port, the ship, Logos Hope, docks for about two weeks in order to offer more than 5 000 affordable educational and Christian literature for purchase. While in port, team members venture into the community to provide humanitarian support and care.
“The thing that really excites me is the unusual opportunities for ministry that we have as a ship,” said Peter Nicoll, OM Ship’s CEO in an interview today.
“ We get into places where no one else really has a chance of getting into – in terms of ministry. We get people coming to the ship that would never go to any kind of church or religious meeting, but they are open to coming to the ship. It’s a unique platform for ministry that God uses, to reach people who otherwise would not be reached,” he said.
Three weeks ago, Nicoll was on board the Logos Hope in the Philippines. (The ship is presently docked in the Philippines for a couple of months as she awaits major renovations in the engine room.) During that time, Nicoll was able to observe the crew members minister to the local community. In December 2011 Typhoon Washi devastated the Philippines and left over 1 200 people dead. The OM crew has been helping with flood relief — repairing the schools, churches, and orphanages that had been damaged by the flood. OM was able to distribute close to 100 water filters to people who didn’t have clean water, and they’ve helped distribute almost a thousand pairs of eye glasses to those with vision problems. While the ship is docked, the ministry continues.
Logos Hope will stay in Asia for a few years – visiting Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, China, and other areas. Plans are also underway to dock in Australia and New Zealand. In the longer term, Logos Hope expects to sail to Africa.
Whenever the ship arrives at a new port, it has an official opening ceremony. Top government officials, community leaders, and politicians are invited. Past visitors have also included presidents and even a king. OM sends teams ahead of the ship to prepare the way at each stop; their job is to coordinate and arrange meetings and opportunities for team visits and ministry within the community. It’s important to build relationships in the communities so that those community members can provide follow-up care.
“We go into prisons and hospitals. We try to work alongside those that are in the community already, because we believe it’s important to have follow-up,” Nicoll said.
Over three million people have visited the ship in the past three years that the ship has been in service. Children are some of those flocking to the ship.
“In the Caribbean you’ve got all these kids who have never been allowed on a cruise ship. Then they come by busloads to our onboard theatre and fill up 400 seats; a couple of schools at a time. One time we had 16 000 kids at one port,” Nicoll said.
As a result of the ship’s visit and people’s hunger for God, churches have been planted in several areas. Most recent has been new fellowships starting in both the Philippines and Papua New Guinea.
Nicoll shared that Patrick Johnstone, a researcher of world missions and author of “Operation World”, once said that, “OM ships have contributed to the launching of missions in Latin America, Korea, and Southern Africa, and a number of other parts of the world.”
OM believes that one of their roles is to go into countries where the church is intensely emerging into missions in order to be a catalyst and an encouragement to the local churches in terms of world missions.
“One of the realities of missions is that the resourceful world mission is not primarily Europe and the States, but the Southern Hemisphere: Korea, Asia, Latin American, and Asia. We want to partner more intentionally with the emerging church – the missionary movement erupting from countries that used to be mission fields. The future, the finances, the people, and the leadership is going to come from there, so we need to be more intentional about that kind of partnership for missions,” Nicoll said.
OM is considering purchasing another ship in the future. At this time, they are searching and asking the Lord to guide them in that process. A review and evaluation process is currently underway to ensure that the existing vessel is effectively ministering to the people.
Logos Hope is a ministry consisting of people from 35 nationalities. It is considered at full capacity when 400 to 440 crew are on staff. Most of the people serving remain for two years, but there are also short-term exposure programs available (STEP). Right now there are immediate openings for electricians, engineers, and plumbers.
“If they’re willing to come for one to three weeks, we’ll take them,” Nicoll said addressing the immediate need. For more information about OM Ships, visit http://www.omships.org/