The Voyage Of The Logos Hope
Ein Buch aus der Reihe "OM Books" von OM Deutschland. www.d.om.org OM arbeitet in mehr als 110 Ländern, motiviert und rüstet Christen aus, Gottes Liebe an Menschen in der ganzen Welt weiterzugeben. OM möchte helfen, Gemeinden zu gründen und zu stärken, besonders in den Gebieten der Welt, in denen Jesus am wenigsten bekannt ist.
BookRix GmbH & Co. KG
“Since its beginning in 1971, the story of OM ships has become legendary! It is doubtful that any other group has been able to bring knowledge through books to the peoples of the world on the scale that they have. Along the way, and with every journey, they have also brought the fragrance of Christ. Read this for their latest Gospel adventures!”
Rev Hwa Yung, Bishop, The Methodist Church in Malaysia
“The story of Logos Hope is a story of faith, and the faithfulness of God. It has been a real encouragement to my faith to see both the faithfulness of God time and time again, and the perseverance of His servants in some very dark days when there seemed to be no way forward. The message of this book is - 'God is great, and keeps His promises.”
Peter Maiden, International Director, Operation Mobilisation
What an exciting story of how God unfolds the journey of faith through a unique vessel with a unique purpose, MV Logos Hope! It has been my joy and honor to partner with OM Ships over the years witnessing how our God uses ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary tasks for His Kingdom. I am sure that this book will challenge and encourage us to take the step of faith into the wavy and windy ocean of World Mission!"
Rev Kim Chang Geun, Chairman, Board of OM Korea
“What happens when a group of people trust God for something important, something significant, actually something miraculous? The Logos Hope gives a ringside seat for what God does when His children believe Him for something bigger than they are. A good book to give to some young man or woman who is not sure which direction his/her life should take.”
Dale Rhoton, founding member of Operation Mobilization and former CEO of OM Ships
“I first caught the vision for world mission when I stepped onboard the MV Logos in Singapore in 1974. This began my relationship with OM that now spans over 34 years and includes service on the Logos, Doulos and the Logos II. God used my time on the ships to define and transform me as a person, to reshape my outlook, vision, calling and purpose in life.
The Logos Hope is the story of God’s unfailing faithfulness. I celebrate God’s unending grace and His ongoing provision in bringing about the current OM ship. The ministry of OM Ships is effective in training, equipping and mobilizing churches to impact the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Lawrence Tong, Director, Logos II, 2001-2005
“The purchase of the ship which would be renamed the Logos Hope required a giant step of faith, taking care to discern God’s will. Developing its ministry on board and on shore required many more steps of faith. This book is full of personal stories of God at work in and through the lives of people aboard. Professional people, willing to offer their skills to God have kept the ship sailing. Young people, non-professionals, joyfully doing whatever was asked of them have experienced the wonder of seeing what God can do through them.”
Elaine Rhoton, author of The Logos Story and The Doulos Story
This is a story that needs to be told and I thank the Lord that Rodney Hui who lives on Logo Hope and who has been one of the main leaders of O.M. in Asia has written it, together with George Simpson.
It was on the night of 10 Sept 2001 while Logos II was in London that we launched the next ship project at the Emmanuel Centre. I was sailing out of London the next day, the 11th, when that fateful event took place in New York City.
Only eternity will tell the full story of the spiritual battles that were fought and won to bring into being this much bigger, amazing ship that we have seen God using since we took delivery in 2004. I hope you will read this book with a spirit of expectation and also a willingness to learn something about God and the way He works.
The table of contents is in front of me and part of the manuscript and I believe those who will take the time to read this book are going to be informed, challenged and blessed. Thousands of people pray for this ministry and support it including many former and present ship ministry people.
I hope some read what I am writing here as on behalf of our entire global movement. I want to thank every one of them. You can be sure I will be giving some of you a copy of this unique book. Thank you Rodney and George.
Dr. George Verwer
Founder, Operation Mobilisation
The story of the Logos Hope is a young one. She turned three in active ministry not long ago; a little more than 10 years old counting from the first time the idea was mooted.
But it needs to be told.
It needs to be told because it is a unique ship with a unique ministry. Currently, the only one in the world that we know of!
Logos Hope follows in the wake of her sister ships. The first that set sail was the MV Logos, in 1970. MV Doulos followed suit, in 1978. Stories of both ships are captured in “The Logos Story” and “The Doulos Story”, both written by Elaine Rhoton. Unfortunately, the story of the third ship, the MV Logos II was never written.
In your hand is the Logos Hope story.
It needs to be told because of the wonderful stories of provision, faith, courage, tempered by discouragement, dismay and despair, but always with hope.
It is a story about the gracious provision of God and the spirit of volunteerism, selflessness, diligence and generosity on the part of men and women, crew and staff, on board and on shore.
May you find encouragement, comfort, courage, solace and even clues to the motivation that drives men and women to such an extent of service and learning, on a mission to bring knowledge, help and hope.
We want to express our heartfelt thanks to the individuals who have contributed (directly and indirectly) to give sense and significance to this book. We owe them a huge debt not just for their contribution in text, but also for the dedication and commitment in deed, to make the Logos Hope story a reality.
Notably, Bernd Gulker, the former CEO of the Ship Ministry whose energy, foresight and drive made this vision a reality.
Lloyd Nicholas, first Project Director in the first crucial years of preparing the ship for ministry (who returned to direct the ship for another stint later).
David and Judy Gillan, pioneer leaders of the first team who lived on the Logos Hope.
Michael Hey, first Logos Hope Director and his wife, Anne.
Gian and Eveline Walser, who directed the ship from Western Europe to the Caribbean, to West Africa, North Africa and the Middle East, South Asia and South East Asia. Quite a spread!
Dirk and Hilde Colenbrander, the longest serving Captain from way back in Trogir, right through to Sri Lanka.
Through them, and many others, the ministry of the ship was well underway.
In putting this book together, we scoured and read through an infinitesimal quantity of pages from archives, weekly, monthly and annual reports, updates, minutes, articles, interviews, audios and videos. Having done all these, we still have an uneasy feeling that we have either missed out on some facts and figures, stories and people, and thus fail to do justice to all. If so, please accept our unreserved apology.
We, Rodney Hui and George Simpson, claim to be authors when in fact most of the materials are already there. It is (just some) hard work on our part, mixed with a lot of pleasure that we are able to compile the writings of others into a book. Credit, therefore, is not ours to claim, but to give.
We have the following journalists and writers to thank – Debbie Meroff, Su-Ling Ng, Debbie Loh, Christy Schumacher, Jaylene Schlichting, Amanda Ruth Thomas, Alison McFarland, Nikki Forrest, Betsy Nussbaumer, Ken Miller, Jon Crowe and Janae Kachikis. The detail and diligence in which they have documented the Project Phase and beyond made our job a whole lot easier. We have drawn from their writings extensively and unashamedly. Thanks too for the writings of Graham Jack, Lloyd Nicholas, David Gillan, Dirk Colenbrander and Steve Packwood - often in their first-hand experience. Special thanks too to the photographers whose iconic shots grace the centre-spread of this book. Appreciation also goes to Chris Chua, who designed the cover and last but not the least, Marianne Hui, Duane Boey and Desiree Boey for their keen eyes in the tedious job of proofreading.
We stand in danger of missing many other names of people who in one way or another had contributed to the ship ministry, and in particular, to this book. However brief the mention of some names may be in this book, it is not a reflection of the size of their contribution. To us, every part is significant and noteworthy.
While it is impossible to list the names of everyone on this page, you will read them as you turn the pages of this book. This way, we trust we are giving the recognition where it is rightfully due.
Enjoy the pages!
Part One: Purchase & Preparation
The Ship Story Continues….
The story and ministry of the ships began way back in the 60s, when a group of young people were poring over a world map in fervent prayer in a pub in Bolton, England.
It was here that George Verwer, the Founder of a movement called Operation Mobilisation, came up with the idea of a ship. The idea was to transport people and supplies along the coast of India to support the burgeoning work in that country.
Thus, the seed of the ship ministry was sown.
It took six years to see God supply both the finances and the personnel to see the idea of the first ship, the MV Logos, become a reality. It was a Danish ship, formally called the MV Umanak. It was registered in Singapore (little realising that this small act was the seed of future engagements with East Asians) and for a start, set sail for India. En route around Africa, it became obvious that the ship ministry far exceeded the initial scope of serving and supporting the work in India. The cargo of books on board became one of the key ministries in meeting the educational needs of countries the ship visited. Conferences for pastors, business community, youth and children widened the impact the ship was able to have.
Opportunities came faster than one ship could meet. A second ship was purchased. Named the MV Doulos – Greek for servant. It became the oldest passenger liner still in operation in the 30-plus years she plied the oceans. Like her smaller sister ship, the Doulos was in ministry full swing. She boasted “The Largest Floating Book Fair”, relegating the one on the Logos to the second largest. But unlike her smaller sister, the Doulos had a bigger capacity. Both ships were in full operation between the years 1977-88.
Unfortunately, on a fateful, stormy January night in 1988 on a voyage round the tip of the South American coast, the Logos hit a submerged rock and floundered. The order was given to abandon ship. The ministry of the ship is forever thankful that not a single person, including the youngest infant, was hurt.
Friends, supporters and partners all over the world waited with bated breath as they watched the event unfold in international news. Riding on the wave of incredible goodwill shown around the world, an announcement was immediately made to replace the Logos. One year later, the third ship was purchased, named the MV Logos II.
Of slightly larger tonnage than her abandoned predecessor, the MV Logos II concentrated mainly in the Caribbean, North and South America, Europe and West Africa. If the Logos, with its relatively smaller yet significant ministry was less, then the Logos II was more in every way. Interestingly, Logos II never visited Asia and Australasia in its 19 years of ministry.
Even with its larger size, the Logos II was deemed small compared to the increasing demands the ship ministry was faced with. A larger replacement ship was seriously considered in the early 2000s. In October 2008, Logos II was sold and scrapped. A good number of the ship equipment and personnel transferred to the newly operational MV Logos Hope.
Towards the end of 2009, it became obvious that the Doulos, now 95 years of age, would find it difficult, if not impossible, to meet the ever increasing stringent safety standards and requirements to keep it in operation. The difficult decision was made to decommission it. Close to a hundred of the remaining personnel transferred to the Logos Hope, bringing with them a legacy of experience. Shortly after that, the Doulos was sold to a businessman who had in mind to develop it into a stationary floating hotel and conference centre. As this book is written, the Ship Ministry is at the beginning stages in its plan to replace the Doulos.
But this book is about the Logos Hope.
The Logos Hope ministry is not a stand-alone. It is built on more than 30 years of ministry and history. The ships had gone through thick and thin, through calm and through storm; through hardship and despair, but never without hope.
It is the 21st century, requiring 21st century approaches and methods. Many things have changed since the mid-60s when the vision of the ship ministry took root.
The Logos Hope was purchased on the 19 April 2004. It took almost five years of refitting, renovation and preparation before she set sail in February 2009 into fully-fledged ministry. Though only less than four years in active duty, the world has opened up to the ship in ways beyond expectations.
Follow us as we take you on this incredible voyage of hope.
Announcing the “New Logos Project”
"There are many times when the possibilities far exceed the capacities, when the energy of the ships' personnel runs thin and space on board runs out. There are times when the situation is not unlike that of Jesus' disciples facing a large crowd in need of a meal with limited resources: five loaves of bread and two fish. Limited resources - but what an opportunity for service! What was true for the disciples is true for the ships as well: the answer is not primarily in reducing the opportunities, but in seeing the resources augmented."
Wrote Bernd Guelker, the then Chief Executive Officer of the Ship Ministry, in his Ship’s Annual Report of the year 2000. Bernd, in a clear and succinct style, thus laid down the fundamental rationale in launching the "New Logos Project".
“Logos Hope” was not the name yet. The initiative was given the indistinct name of “the New Logos Project”, signalling the desire to find a bigger, better-equipped ship to meet the challenges facing the ministry. It would be the fourth.
At this point, MV Doulos and MV Logos II were still in active service.
Bernd had announced in June 2001 the renewed vision to serve the visitors in the ports of call in the best possible way. Added up, over one million visitors boarded the ships every year. Of these, less than 20 per cent, that’s 200,000 people, had the opportunity to participate or to attend an event on board or to interact with us in a more meaningful way.
The ship ministry was, and still is, about people. People who work and serve on board, and visitors. Both are considered as gifts from God. The motivation has always been the same ever since the beginning of the ministry. Nothing has changed. If anything, it has taken on greater emphasis. The desire is to see the lives of visitors enriched as they interact with those serving on board.
Noble? Yes. Bernd underscored this vision by adding that this had much to do with proper and responsible stewardship towards our visitors!
The first ship, the MV Logos, was the smallest – weighing less than 2,500 tons. At 6,000+ tons, MV Doulos was larger in comparison. After the MV Logos hit a rock, the ministry replaced it with the MV Logos II. But these ships were borne in the 70s and 80s. As we entered the 21st century, we could not ignore several realities that the ship ministry faced time and again. Bernd listed two prominent limitations.
One was the inability to provide sufficient and appropriate living space for the regular crew and staff, and two, the inability to provide visitors with the relevant space and opportunities for spiritual and holistic input while on board. At times, these realities had led to frustration, and as often was the case, prospective crew and potential staff were turned away from joining the ship for service.
The size was not the issue for the MV Doulos as it was for the MV Logos II. Improvements were considered to the latter, but it soon became obvious that these would be disproportionate to the investment required, and would leave the question of the limitations unanswered.
The decision was made to work towards replacing Logos II. It was envisaged that a replacement ship would include a larger, more visitor-friendly indoor book fair, a larger auditorium for key events, rooms for smaller programmes, a much larger facility for interaction, more and improved living space for our own crew and staff, as well as individuals and groups who come to serve with us.
After 30 years in the ship ministry, the New Logos Project was launched at a London church on 10 September 2001. The significance of this date, just a day before the fateful day in New York, was not lost.
From three decades of experience, those involved knew it would take a lot to see a larger ship become a reality.
What they did not know was how much more it would take to get this project off the ground and onto the water!
The Journey of Faith
At a glance……
2001-2003 The Project vision is born. Bernd Guelker (Germany) gives overall drive and direction. Lloyd Nicholas (Australia) at the helm as Project director. The search for a new vessel gets underway.
2004 Norröna I is purchased from Smyril Line after a day of prayer on 29 March. Work on the newly named Logos Hope begins in Copenhagen, Denmark while plans are drawn up and a shipyard decided on. It is hoped the ship will be ready for service in the summer of 2005.
2005 Logos Hope is sailed first to Valetta, Malta before arriving in Brodotrogir shipyard in Trogir, Croatia mid-year. The first dry dock takes place and major steel work by the shipyard to create deck 4 and extend decks 8 and 9 advances while a small onboard team works on other projects.
2006 Myriads of projects to rebuild the ship take place and the second dry dock is completed. Many systems are updated or newly installed including water, ventilation and emergency sprinklers. The initial redelivery date 29 July is recognised as unrealistic. The onboard community of staff and project workers grows to 80.
2007 Work continues towards completion of the contracted work with the shipyard. Captain Dirk Colenbrander takes on the role of Master. After much negotiation Logos Hope is redelivered on 7 September and later sails to Kiel, Germany where over 200 join the community from Logos II and other locations.
2008 Six months are spent in Kiel where work continues to progress and many locals get involved. The ship sails to Landskrona, Sweden in June for three weeks in dry dock before arriving in Køge, Denmark for the final push to approval for sailing.
First half of 2009 Finishing touches are completed in many areas and documentation and processes are put in place in preparation for audits. The Passenger Ship Safety Certificate (PSSC) and other necessary certification is finalised. On 19 February, Logos Hope launches into an 11-port tour of northern Europe while several major projects continue.
Logos Hope sails into ministry-proper from Køge to Goteborg.
The whole story surrounding the purchase of the Norröna I is simply amazing. It confirms that this is indeed God’s ship! God’s faithfulness is evident from the start until now. Europe, the place where the ship is prepared, becomes the pad from which the ministry is launched.
2010 A year of contrast. Caribbean, West Africa, North Africa. Smooth crossing of the Atlantic. Great response in Sierra Leone, Ghana and Liberia. A community highlight – visiting Libya, Egypt and Lebanon. It is an amazing thing to take a ship there just before events unfolded.
2011 The Gulf is amazing. Friendly people, great amount of good books distributed. Enjoying the Arab culture. Dry dock in Sri Lanka with many stories of lives transformed. India – celebrating 40 years of the Ship Ministry with OM India.
Malaysia. First time the ship sails into South East Asia. Four ports – Penang, Port Klang, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu – in four months. More than 400,000 visitors step onto the Logos Hope for the first time. Enjoying the hospitality and the partnership of many friends and churches. Christmas in Singapore, where the first Logos was registered. Long-term partnerships renewed.
2012 Philippines. Cebu. A thriving ministry started amongst street kids 11 years earlier by a Doulos crew member continues with the Logos Hope. Manila, partnership with OM Philippines, churches and organisations dovetailed perfectly. Subic Bay, wonderful programmes in churches, prisons, orphanages, malls, etc. Longest dry-dock in ship history. A total of 78 land teams are fielded in ministry all over the Philippines, Australia, Europe, North America and Asia.
Hong Kong, Taiwan, Cambodia, Thailand and more ports on the radar…….
“Now is the Hour”
I have the conviction that Now is the Hour to take bigger steps to make this next ship a reality!! There will always be reasons for holding back. I have a burden for thousands of people to get involved in prayer and financial support. I'm praying for every person who has been blessed in any way by the ships and their ministry over the past 32 years to now bless the ship ministry by helping to buy the next ship.
There are tremendous staffs of 500 people on the ships and in the ship ministry. They, by faith, are committed to this and have been working toward it for a number of years. Let's join with them.
Trusting God for a miracle, we know the way ahead will not be easy and we are trying to count the cost every step of the way (Luke 14: 28-33).
Founder, Operation Mobilisation
16 July 2002
How does one set about finding, fixing, furnishing and funding a ship?
More importantly, where does one get the right people to man the ship? It has been said that recruiting men and women is a greater enterprise than raising money and materials. There is much truth in this statement, though at times, you will see, money is a greater challenge. Both are great gifts from God. The Ship Ministry continues to be a project run by volunteers. All crew and staff receive no salary, a fact that amazes people who are curious enough to ask.
Expectations and suggestions from friends, associates, supporters, partners in prayer, fellow organisations, churches, regular donors, came in fast. Their concern and excitement underscored the same concerns that initial discussions raised.
At the start, the think-tank behind this project was the Ships Executive Committee. The Board of Educational Book Exhibits (EBE), who were legally responsible for Logos II, reviewed and approved the project. The original vision was to replace the Logos II with a larger ship. So it was on the shoulders of this group of men and women that this project rested.
An extensive planning process to investigate technical and ministry requirements was carried out. The Board of EBE decided to “count the cost” and set the marks – and it was that two thirds of the money needed to be raised for the project before a ship would be purchased. This would include the costs for the vessel purchase, renovation, outfitting, stocking, the initial phase of ministry and administration. Admittedly, this was the biggest project to be undertaken in the history of the Ship Ministry!
And as a great encouragement to the Board and those involved earlier in this project, several large monetary gifts had already been given or promised!
A promising start indeed.
The Project Blueprint
By the middle of 2002, there was already a rigorous process of study, discussion, planning and praying.
The Ship Ministry had never undertaken such an enormous project before. The initial team outlined the outcomes that were as clear as they were brief, bearing in mind the enormity of this undertaking. It stated: “We will know the project has succeeded when (a) a ship has been purchased, outfitted and commissioned according to our technical and ministry design, (b) onboard leadership and organisational structures are in place that support the effective implementation of the ministry agenda, and (c) the 'next ship' is fully staffed and has been in operation for one year.”
When these outcomes were realised, it would signal the end of the project (phase), but the ship would then continue as part of the ongoing Ship Ministry.
It also became clear that the agenda of what was now called the Next Ship Project must be ministry driven, as opposed to it being technically driven. How that panned out would be a matter of time and constant reminder. This was an important distinction to make early in the process. Ships are simply tools, or ‘vehicles’ for sharing the Good News, as those involved in the ships are continuously mindful of (the loss of the Logos and decommissioning of the Doulos). It was important to remember not to put the “cart before the horse”.
Following this fundamental understanding that it would be ministry driven, the team articulated that the Next Ship Project would be one with...
- A vision to interact with every visitor coming on board. To create opportunities for many to respond to the Good News, and to encourage and nurture others in their walk with God;
- A culture of ministry that is not defined by events, structure or the resources available, but rather, by values and purpose. Our staff should have a passion to serve God, one another and the communities in the ports we visit;
- A legacy of a new generation of leaders, especially serving with the Ship Ministry.
It was easier said than done, of course. The hard work of thinking and condensing the blueprint, the philosophy and the ministry agenda into understandable form proved to be critical when things got harder in the coming months, stretching to years, even when the ship became operational. When such times happen, and they do happen, a reminder of the original purpose and values helps.
The First Team
I often tell people it is not just God’s Ship; it is also Man’s Ship,” said Mike Hey, first Director to live on board after the ship was purchased.
True, it is God’s ship. He is the Author and the Finisher in all things, including the ships. All glory belongs to Him. This remains an integral motivation and goal throughout the ministry. But we also know that God’s method is man.
God’s way has always been ordinary men and women to accomplish His purposes. And so it was when God began to bring in the people to form the team to set the ministry of the Logos Hope in motion.
In August 2002, Lloyd (Australia) and Charlotte (Germany) Nicholas and their children, Steven, Vanessa and Daniel arrived in Germany. Lloyd became the Project Director, working out of the Ship Headquarters in Mosbach, a picturesque German town nestled at the confluence of the Necker and the Elz. A research chemist, Lloyd had joined the first ship Logos in 1976 as a trainee, and since then had held various appointments, including that of the Director on the Doulos in the 90s. He brought with him extensive knowledge and experience of how OM Ships operated.
Graham Jack (UK) joined the team after serving on line-up, an area of responsibility which basically means the entire preparation before the ship visits a port. Graham had earned his stripes on both Doulos and Logos II. His latest achievement was coordinating the successful Logos II visit to the UK.
Johannes Thomsen, Danish veteran Chief Engineer who had served on all three ships, began to devote his energy full-time to the Next Ship Project. His job it was to refine the criteria and design. As the months went by, Johannes concentrated his attention on gathering information about a possible "next"(i.e. actual) ship. This involved considerable research and planning.
Another key person was Christy Schumacher (USA). She joined in February 2003 as Project Manager and Coordinating Team Leader. The team had big roles, but they operated from the humble project office – which was a container!
“At one time nine people sat inside. In summer, the air conditioning consisted of a sprinkler placed on top of the roof pumping water from the nearby creek. This worked until around lunch when it could get really hot inside!” said Christy. She became the Assistant Project Director to Lloyd and provided the oversight in communication, personnel and finance.
Not based in Mosbach, but no less active in public relations, communication and promoting the project were Peter (UK) and Brigitte (Sweden) Conlan. Peter had been involved in pioneering all four ships. Their tireless efforts around the world had resulted in greater support and deeper relationship with stakeholders.
Bitten Schriver was serving as the OM Denmark Director at that time. How critical her role was became obvious once we started investigating the Faroese ship. Bitten became the director of the Danish company that was formed as part of the paperwork in connections with buying the ship in the Faroe Islands. Being Danish, she played a key role in the liaison with the Danish and Faroese authorities.
Goh Han Teck and Su Ling (Singapore), ended their service on Doulos in 2003 and joined at a time, according to Su Ling “before there was a name or a ship and the team was working out of a container office in Mosbach”. They did a lot of research for the new ship in the aspects of ministry and management. The challenge for them was to help shape and develop strategic initiatives that would result in a sustainable and more effective ship ministry. Even though their application for German visas was denied, they continued to facilitate research and development in the organisational culture and the corporate image of the Ships Ministry. A tall order indeed. And what better people to do it!
One very important outcome resulted from their research efforts. The primary focus of the Next Ship Project was not to be the acquisition of a newer, larger ship, but rather the development of a sustainable effective ministry. A vessel to replace Logos II was one of the steps toward that end. Although it eventually turned out to be a larger ship, it was this exercise that was defining.
On hindsight, this may appear obvious, but status quo was not the approach the team adopted. For the sake of stewardship, as underscored by Bernd at the beginning of this project, the ministry owed it to partners, supporters and sponsors, to thoroughly examine, review and determine the way ahead.
Australian Ben Wyatt joined the Next Ship Project team in 2003 at the stage where there was no ship and no name. In the first few years, Ben did research, personnel, IT support, public relations, fundraising, accommodation sourcing for new team members, etc! “The best description for my role was ‘project team logistics manager’, which really meant I was the jack of all trades!” said Ben. Later, the unenviable task of preparing the visit of the first port rested on his shoulders. In 2007, Ben moved onboard with his wife, Becca (Germany), just as it transitioned from Croatia to Kiel, Germany. Their first son, Ned, was born during that time. Later, Ben served as the Hotel Catering Director until he left.
Before joining the team, Carolina Romero (USA) was on Logos II in line-up work. Her mandate was to give careful thought and planning to the transition of people from the Logos II to the next ship. The transition process was complex and complicated. It was good foresight not to underestimate the impact such a transition could have on crew and staff.
David and Judy Gillan (Australia) were two of the few “anchors” at this pioneering stage. They had been with the Ship Ministry since 1998. David had served as Chief Engineer while Judy coordinated practical aid projects. David would serve as Chief Engineer for the Next Ship Project, and Judy would be involved in public relations and the aid ministry. In the early stage of the project, few would dispute that the Gillans’ part was pivotal and instrumental. They brought with them unflinching commitment to the project. Of them, Matt Blair (Australia) said, “They were a great and godly couple!” Heidrun Blair (Germany) would fondly remember after yet another delay and uncertainty later in the project, when David would say, “We can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s the headlight of another train!”
This initial group was by no means complete, but it formed the core that gave the Next Ship Project the kick-start. There were others who felt their role might be too modest to warrant a mention. Adrian May came to help with some project planning, but “ended up finding my niche doing financial development work”. He mused: “Along the way I dismantled a Duty Free shop, removed a car deck false ceiling, and trained up as a crewmember just to sail across Malta harbour.” Adrian was on the team from October 2003 to September 2007.
As the project progressed, more people would be needed for planning and administration. When the next ship was purchased, many more skilled workers would be needed to help with the renovation. Eventually, the hope was to have around 350 people serving onboard.
Man proposes; God counterproposes
Planners plan to the best of their knowledge and know-how. They do so with the experience they have accumulated. Risks are minimised.
Planning for the Next Ship was no different.
Except for the fact that a dimension was added that secular companies would not even consider.
The Next Ship Project was a huge step of faith into the unknown. The team was undertaking a project that was of mammoth proportions, compared to the previous three ships. The venture was one into uncharted territory, at least financially. As the project unfolded, this proved to be true. Compared to the lower budgets it took to purchase the previous three ships, the Next Ship turned out to cost more than the three previous ships combined! Not just in financial terms; in ministry, manpower and machinery as well. Perhaps it was God’s sovereignty for those involved. Had they known the true picture and situation, they might not have attempted such a project. But then it would not be faith.
In the meantime, friends, partners and associates were asking when the next ship would be bought. The team had said, as mandated by the EBE Board, that no purchase would be made until two thirds of the money required for the project was in place. Unlike profit-making secular companies where funds must be available or where banks act as guarantors before launching a project, the Ship Ministry was dependent on God to provide, through prayer and through various efforts and events in fund-raising. As such, it was clearly difficult to fix a date for buying a ship. Nevertheless, it was right and proper to present a project timetable, even if some adjustments were expected.
So with the best of their knowledge, skills, experience, tempered with faith and courage, the following schedule was drawn up in July of 2002:
- From 2002, fundraising efforts to raise money for the purchase, outfitting and operations of the vessel;
- Autumn 2003, possible purchase of the vessel;
- Autumn 2003 - Spring 2004, vessel repairs and outfitting;
- Summer 2004 - Summer 2005, first year of operation;
- Autumn 2005, project evaluation and closure.
After the project had come to an end, the vessel would, of course, continue in ministry.
The timetable looked simple, straightforward and clear enough.
But in reality, it was anything but!
As the project panned out in the ensuing period, the timetable was adjusted and readjusted. As the weeks turned to months, and the months stretched to years, factors beyond man’s control had a profound impact on the progress. From outside looking in, it would appear that delays could have been avoided. “But,” Lloyd assured, “not once did we sense God was not at work”. On the contrary, it was apparent that God was at work throughout, leading and guiding every step of the way.
Another aspect, an important one, was the budget projection. One of the first inevitable questions people asked was, “How much will it cost?”
Buying a new, purpose-built ship could cost US $80 - 100 million! This was out of the question. The figure was in a league way beyond Ship Ministry budget. The thought of having a brand new ship, though, was nice. Imagine, no repair work, nothing to refit and zero replacement of old parts that the Ship Ministry had grown accustomed to with the old fleet. The real jolt was that the figure was beyond our imagination. To “fulfil all righteousness”, a research was properly done, but this option was dismissed.
Another option that the team considered long and hard was to make further improvements to Logos II. This would cost several million dollars, but still would not result in a ship needed to make the most of the incredible ministry opportunities facing the Ship Ministry.
The best option was to acquire a good second-hand vessel of the type needed. The leadership team was confident that such a ship could be purchased and refitted for less than US$10 million. That was about 10 per cent of the cost of a new purpose-built ship. This would be good stewardship and good use of the money God would be giving to us. This, then, were the projected figures:
- Purchase and renovation of a good, second-hand vessel: US$10million
- Out-fitting of facilities: US$3.5 million
- Stocking and supplies: US$1.5 million
- Project co-ordination: US$1.5 million
- First year of operation: US$1.5 million
Next Ship project budget total: US $18 million.
The team had confessed in a report – “This is a lot of money. Yet, as we see the scope of the ministry God has called us to, and the limitations of our present ships, we believe that this is the time for such an investment. We will only reach this goal by God's grace and provision, together with the partnership of supporters all over the world.“
To put things in perspective, compared to projects in the shipping world, the Next Ship Project was small. The team had exercised care and caution. The figure, though much bigger than previous ships’, was conservative, and yet realistic – to the best of knowledge and expertise.
Both the timetable and project budgets eventually were off target, by a wide margin.
It was a humbling experience to see God improvising on the plans that man proposed. He took the timetable, turned it beyond recognition. But in the course of time, He turned it for the better, though it took a whole lot longer. As for the underestimated budget, He proved Himself to be way more faithful than the team had imagined.
How true it is when God says in Isaiah 55:8,9 –“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”