I’ve been serving voluntarily with Mercy Ships for 16 months now, and have had the privilege of working and living alongside people from many different countries. I am genuinely humbled when I consider that this ship is staffed by professionals who have chosen to leave their homes, countries, families, friends, possessions, jobs and salaries in order to do their everyday job out of love and empathy for the people of Western and Central Africa. I have been asked how my particular role on the ship is, in itself, a ministry.
There are times that, beyond the obvious differences of living on board a ship in West Africa, I have felt that the job I am doing day in and day out is very similar to the job that I did back home in the UK for nine years. I plan and teach lessons, mark and grade work, attend staff meetings and take part in professional development training sessions. However, this is really where the similarity abruptly stops. As I walk from my classroom door en-route to my cabin I will encounter patients on their way up to our open air deck (Deck 7). As I watch them pass by me on the stairs with their plaster casts, bandages, k-wires, catheters and crutches, I am reminded that this is a place where incredible victories are continuously being won within the hospital deck, but they are enabled by the actions of those on the remaining seven decks every single day!
I often think of 1 Corinthians 12 when I consider the various roles on this ship and the way in which they function together to allow the medical work of Mercy Ships to take place. We are many parts but we are one body working towards a common goal. It is an honour and a privilege to know that as I teach the Kindergarten children to read and write, their parents are able to serve in other roles. Seeing this body of believers working together, I am in no doubt that my role is a ministry in itself.