Christian ministry ship celebrates decade of global mission and outreach
Christian ministry ship Logos Hope is celebrating 10 years of bringing the Gospel as well as practical support to churches and communities around the world.
The ship, operated by Operation Mobilisation, was first launched with an international crew of 400 Christian volunteers in 2009.
It is the world's largest floating bookfair, carrying over 5,000 titles in English as well as languages local to the ports where the ship docks.
The bookfair is a unique concept, allowing church leaders to come onboard and find vital Christian and educational resources that they might not otherwise have access to.
In the last 10 years, the ship has visited 116 ports in 68 countries and territories, and welcomed 8 million visitors up her gangways.
While in port, members of the crew team up with local churches to undertake community outreach and evangelism projects. Members of the public are also welcomed on board to tour the ship and browse the bookstore.
To date, the ship has sold nearly 2.5 million Christian books and Bibles, and another 5.5 million non-Christian titles in its bookstore.
Although the ship has been used for Christian ministry for the last decade, the vessel is actually much older, having started out as a car ferry in Germany 46 years ago.
She was purchased by Operation Mobilisation in 2004 and spent the next few years being fitted out for ministry. The refurbishment included the addition of two new decks and she finally entered service in 2009, following in the footsteps of OM's other ministry ships, Logos, Doulos and Logos II.
Her maiden voyage as a ministry ship was from Koege, Denmark, to Gothenburg, Sweden, on 19 February 2009.
Captain Dirk Colenbrander, of the Netherlands, who was at the helm on that voyage, said: 'We sailed out backwards, being pulled by a tug, because the port of Koege had no space to turn around.
'Then a tug boat had to break up the ice so we could get alongside in frozen Gothenburg! It was the first time some of our crew had ever experienced snow.'
A decade on, Captain Dirk still serves as interim Master.
'One of the most significant things for me is the sharing of personal stories by the crew as we leave each port and hearing how God has used them to change the lives of people they met in that area,' he said.
OM Ships' Chief Executive Officer, Seelan Govender, of South Africa, has spent 14 years living on board the ministry ships.
'I feel blessed to work with dedicated Christians who serve sacrificially on board and on shore to maintain the constant operation of the ship. What I believe continues to draw people to the vessel is that it is a catalytic platform: equipping people and mobilising them to create vibrant communities of Jesus followers wherever they go,' he said.
The milestone tenth anniversary is being celebrated in Chile. It is one of the stops being made by the Logos Hope as part of a two-year tour of Latin America and marks the ship's first visit to the South American continent.
The visit is in collaboration with OM Latin America and has the aim of mobilising more Latin American believers for mission to some of the least-reached communities around the world.