[notice]The Logos Hope mission ship, with its international crew of 400 volunteers, left Cape Town for West Africa on Tuesday July 12, after spending four months visiting South African ports. David Melvill interviewed the captain, Tom Dyer while the world’s largest floating bookshop was in Cape Town.[/notice]
How did you and your wife, Maggie meet?
Tom: I met Maggie on an OM (Operation Mobilisation) campaign in Mexico in 1981. That is where our paths first crossed. Maggie had served on Doulos in 1979 then went to serve in the OM USA office based in New Jersey.
After a couple of years as a deck officer on Logos, I shifted to line-up. Stan Thompson, a Brit, headed up the Line-up team for our visit in Bristol in 1983. I was part of this and learnt a huge amount from him. At the end of the line-up I was asked to join the Doulos in Uruguay. From time to time it was expected of me to return home to upgrade my licence as captain. As I did in 1984. While there I was able to connect with my sister in Ohio as a central meeting place. Maggie came to visit as she was raised in Pennsylvania on the East Coast of America. She was one of nine children.
I met her dad — unfortunately her mother had predeceased a year before I met her. Maggie came to join me on Doulos in the fall [autumn] of 1984. In December 1984 we had been fortunate enough to enjoy a Christmas together in Ireland and then went back home to the States and were then married in January 1985 in Pennsylvania. In June 1985 we went to the Logos in the Caribbean together. Tommy our first child was born in 1986 and he was a great joy.
There was a time that I thought of going full time into the ministry, I thus embarked on theological studies (part-time) and started studying Greek, Hebrew and systematic theology. I had almost finished but decided to pursue my studies in the shipping industry rather.
I then embarked on doing a Master of Science degree, pursuing maritime management. This was a time I looked back and thought I had taken my eyes off the Lord. I started realising that I didn’t have a pension or any health insurance [medical aid provision] and became a little anxious.
We had had the privilege of renting a house as our home base for 16 years. Most of our children had stayed there even while we were traveling. Our youngest son who recently married had stayed in the house, but they decided to move. As we were not able to sub-rent the property, we had to let it go. I asked myself: “What have I done?” We had always had a home, now we had nothing. This caused more anxiety. Nonetheless God has been faithful and taken care of us.
My favourite verse is Hebrews 10:38 But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back. But we do not belong to those who shrink back…
I never wanted to be one to shrink back. This has become my life verse and of immense encouragement.
Furthermore I am reminded of Philippians 1:6, Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
What is Maggie’s contribution to the ministry?
Tom: Maggie, is an amazing person. She has always been willing to offer her thoughts and feelings towards the decisions that we have made, most importantly she has accepted the fact that only one person can make the final decision. She has entrusted this to me.
She sees her role as supporting me. This is not a job but a ministry. Maggie is a very talented and a smart lady. She has not allowed the limitations of the ship to hold her back, there are times when these have been great joys and frustrations.
Maggie loves people, she gets her energy from other people. Maggie makes friends easily wherever she goes. It is not uncommon for her to be in the grocery store, strike up a conversation and become friends with the person involved. Maggie does not live with regret, she lives in the present.
How have you as a family coped on board ship?
Tom: My wife, Maggie, and I have raised four children on board ship. We made a decision that we were not in favour of sending our children to boarding school. While they were growing up, they had each other. There is approximately a year and a half gap between each of them.
When Tommy, our eldest child, became a teenager, we decided it was better to head for a home base. We settled in San Diego, California, US and were part of a small office on land. This gave us the basis of having a secure home. I went alone for relief on board ship and to coordinate safety training. While at home base I was able to develop a programme for marine training, we had a virtual office, and from time to time I would join the ship for the practical outworking.
In 2006, OM moved the office to Florence in South Carolina. We decided to stay in San Diego and I continued to travel to the ships. Every one of our children has spent a period of time subsequently on board ship.
We are extremely grateful to our church as well for a wonderful Christian community, as a result our children always felt at home. Today my greatest joy is that all my children follow the Lord and in some way are either involved or work for the church and its school and project ministry. Tommy, our eldest son is active on the Logos Hope, and has been involved in the line-up team. Shortly he will be heading to Ghana where he will lead his first line-up team.
We are extremely grateful to Horizon Christian Fellowship for all their support and commitment over many years.
How does your future look?
Tom: I am grateful to the Lord for the ship’s ministry that also saw the necessity of building something towards retirement. They very kindly assist me in contributing towards a pension plan. In addition, I have made additional provision in a forced savings plan. While it is too late to acquire property and take out a long term bond, I am grateful that I have been able to make some provision for our retirement.
Maggie and I are on a year-for-year, as long as our health holds. We look forward to the prospect of some grandchildren.
Tom: The power of the Christian community on board ship draws people – we strive to be the “sweet aroma of Christ,” this is what we want the world to see and be.
There is a tremendous need and we seek to serve wherever we can. The scripture of 2 Corinthians 5:17, The love of Christ compels us… This must be my second favourite verse.
I am reminded of our plaque in our home which resonates with me often. Only one life, will soon be past, only what is done for Christ will last. I am not sure who the quote is attributed to, but it is good.
It has been an amazing experience of being devoted to the ships — I have served from 1980 on and off for approximately 34 years on board ship.