From the government's collapse in the UK and political upheaval in Sri Lanka, to skyrocketing food and fuel prices across the world and a growing global food crisis, the world seems to be in chaos. Many of us feel anxious and afraid of what the future will hold. The temptation to just switch off the news has never felt stronger.
Amid all the chaos, how would you say the world characterises Christians? Think about it for a moment. Do they think of Christians as a people of hope? A people reflecting love and light to the rest of the world?
Scripture tells us to always be prepared to give a reason for the hope that we have (1 Peter 3:15). All too often our conversation and outlook get caught up in the difficulties and hopelessness of our circumstances and world events. But the truth is we are the only people who can provide the hope that the world is yearning for. The question is, are we?
More than a third of the world's 7.7 billion people have never heard the gospel or experienced Christ's love through one of His followers. It is a shocking statistic, but it's when considering each person behind the number that we truly comprehend what that means. There are still entire regions with no church (or a tiny church) and whole communities that have never experienced the transformative love of Jesus.
It is a serious wake-up call. Why is the hope and love of Christ not reaching these people? There are two simple reasons for this: they haven't experienced deep personal investment and love from followers of Jesus, and because we haven't reached them.
It was this conviction that made us realise if we were going to be part of the solution at OM's Ship Ministry, if we are ever truly going to reach these people with the hope and good news entrusted to us that brings about transformation, we need a radical new vision. A vision to go further, stay longer and engage more deeply in the communities we visit.
By 2050, it is estimated that nearly 70% of the world's population will live in urban areas. These areas, with high densities of people, represent an incredible opportunity to build vibrant communities of Jesus followers sharing the hope they have received with those around them to bring about the flourishing of the Kingdom.
The mobility of OM's Ship Ministry gives us a unique role as a catalyst to inspire and motivate Jesus followers across the world. To encourage them in the heart they have for their cities and equip them to go beyond the walls of their church, to their neighbourhoods and further with the hope of Christ to bring about transformation.
Our vision was not just for a new ship, but for a fleet of smaller vessels equipped to travel to places we haven't been able to reach before. We can then focus on specific strategic regions and truly equip and invest in growing the local grassroots church.
It is an ambitious vision we took to the Lord in the midst of a global pandemic, knowing this could only happen in His strength and with His provision.
God has provided for us in incredible ways. He answered our prayer on a scale and in a way we never expected. The pandemic has brought us into a unique season where many potential smaller vessels have become available, and we recently acquired our first ship in the new fleet, Doulos Hope.
Doulos Hope, is a small vessel enabling her to operate in shallow waters, such as rivers. That means we can access places previously beyond our reach and for the first time, we will be able to reach new ports in South and East Asia, a place home to around 70% of the world's least-reached people. Doulos Hope's focus on this region will enable deep, long-term engagement with the community and support of the believers there to see God's Kingdom come.
Doulos Hope means servant of hope to reflect our sense of servanthood, of acknowledging the other, of paying attention to the marginalised - but more than that - we saw the sense of hopelessness around us and felt called to come as people of hope, the hope of the Lord Jesus Christ, the hope that people are yearning for. But this isn't a calling that is unique to us, it is a call to every follower of Christ.
I have seen ordinary people create a ripple effect that leads to communities boldly sharing the gospel and I pray that we will see this work continue to grow. I recently heard the testimony of Pastor Emmanuel who came from a community unreached by the gospel, where idol worship and child sacrifice were common. But, through the incredible transformation of the Lord, and the resources provided by OM's Ship Ministry, there are now more than 200 local missionaries in a region that previously had only five.
As we navigate the pressures and worries of life in the current chaos, the call to invest in others and show them the hope only Christ can bring may feel completely unrealistic. We feel weak, ill-equipped and completely at capacity. How could we ever spread hope in the face of such despondency? And the truth is, you can't. Not on your own. It is not a call we take up in our own strength, but in His. And not just in God's strength, but alongside other Christians.
God's surprising answer to our prayers has been such a precious reminder that He is still in control despite everything. Jesus proclaimed "...take heart! I have overcome the world". Through Jesus, we are the deeply loved children of the creator of the universe, and are invited to join to bring about the flourishing of His Kingdom. We have been shown radical love. So, in the face of a world in chaos, we can pray ambitious prayers and step out in faith knowing that God will use us to share His hope to a broken world to bring about restoration.
Seelan Govender, from South Africa, has been serving with OM' Ships since 1999. Beginning as a team member in the bookfair on board Doulos, he became director in 2009. In early 2017 he was appointed OM Ships International's chief executive officer. He is responsible for the overall leadership and management of the organisation, which includes its shore-based technical and literature operations from bases in Germany, the UK and the USA, and Logos Hope. If you would like to take up the invitation to partner with OM's Ship Ministry in their vision to share the hope of Christ by praying, giving, or volunteering find out more at om.org/ships/