The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful

A couple of hours ago, I returned to the states after serving aboard the Africa Mercy for the past three months.  Words cannot begin to describe everything that God has revealed to me, nor can they describe the overwhelming joy of knowing that seeds have been planted in his name.  In the thirty-six hours of travel on my journey home, I had many hours to reflect on all God has done in the short time of serving with Mercy Ships.

I know the saying is usually “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” but I wanted to end on a positive note and not a negative.  And besides, God has shown me so much about his love in action that beauty surrounded this journey into Togo and down to South Africa. 

The Good

As a part of the Stewards Department, it was my honor to be serving others aboard the ship.  I got the privilege of serving in the dining hall, though many times I took that position for granted.  I was able to connect with people as they came through the serving line, brightening their day with a word of encouragement and a smile. 

I got to serve with an amazing group of individuals, each children of God and brothers and sisters in Christ.  I got to know some of them much deeper than a name, but on a side usually hidden from the world.  Each of them were truly wonderful and a blessing into my life. 

I have hundreds, if not thousands, of stories to tell of how God has provided for me.  Two are more of realizations that he has shown me in my time aboard ship: 

First, God revealed to me the passion that I would like to pursue, a ‘dream job’ of sorts.  I want to tell the stories of individual missionaries in the field.  This would include going around Africa and staying with different missionaries for three to four months at a time and learning who they are as individuals, then sharing their stories through photography and writings.

Second, God showed me more of his path for me when he revealed where he wanted me to be for the next two years:  AmeriCorps.  I had struggled with figuring out what I was supposed to do, and I was lost in confusion until God showed me through this opportunity. 

The Bad

Unfortunately, I got to see some of the ‘ugly’ side of Mercy Ships.  I saw people who were frustrated with the system, with management, with the organization and unleashed their rage in unhealthy behaviors.  I saw people who expected to be recognized.  Who wanted entitlement.  Who expected something in return for their volunteered service. 

I heard people claiming to be Christian missionaries, defacing the image of God.  Committing murder in their hearts.  Speaking out in malice and rage against others.  Spreading lies through gossip.  Intentionally breaking the code of conduct because it didn’t fit their ideas. 

The Beautiful

One of the best parts of working with Mercy Ships, despite all their flaws, was the people.  The crew of the Africa Mercy became family.  From the ‘older’ generation whom I looked up to for guidance and wisdom, to the youth that were filled with energy and passion, I saw God in each of their hearts.  It’s a beautiful sight to see a group of individuals become family through the love provided by God. 

As the Africa Mercy is a hospital ship, I saw patients frequently being led and helped aboard, then leaving under the strength provided by God through the healing hands of the dedicated doctors and nurses. 

I saw the compassion of each nurse in the wards, doing everything they could to help and heal those under their care.  Their presence was felt throughout the ship, more than they know. 

I saw the hope in the hopeless and I saw light in the ‘dark continent’.

God Bless and PEACE

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