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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Long Farewell

For many of us who invested a significant part of our lives in ministry aboard ANASTASIS, it has seemed a strange time to witness the transition from ministry encased in steel and aluminum to memory, history and stories of changed lives. At the end July Anastasis transitioned back “into the world” of commerce and business. The ship made her departure from her last ministry port of Monrovia on the 29th of June 2007, having handed over the responsibility as a vehicle of hope and healing to the Africa Mercy. It was an emotional departure. Anastasis has been ministry platform, sanctuary, school, workplace, and home to thousands of people. On board, or in association with the ship, many learned about the Love and Goodness of God. Others have been challenged to change their lives and still others have found physical and spiritual healing, or a deeper understanding of God.

This was certainly true for me over the years. I remember my first year on board, rising early to pray and seeing that some of my leaders had already done so. I was challenged in where my beliefs came from, the Word of God or my culture. I enjoyed learning about and joining forces with people of dozens of cultures and languages in serving a mighty God, and being a part of something significant in the world around me. With the delayed deployment of the new ship, Africa Mercy, the service life of Anastasis was extended more than two years by the amazing efforts of her dedicated technical staff and Captain. During that time, many alternatives were sought and examined, but none developed that were economically or logistically viable.

A crew of 39, mostly with long histories with the ship, made the final voyage of delivery, which has been labeled the “Omega Voyage,” to the new owners. Even though her time of service as a Mercy Ship was now passed, the crew did a great job caring for the ship as always, even down to polishing the brass on the bridge and sanding and varnishing rails. She was well looked after all the way.

As we made the sail, the names and stories of hundreds of memories were shared amongst us. As the miles passed, the faces of friends and shipmates, of patients and dayworkers and thousands of visitors came to our minds. We recalled tales of humor and crisis, and always the faithfulness of God. And as the miles passed, the worship and prayer continued to be a part of our lives. But the voyage had memories of its own to generate, and events that kept us praying and serving to the fullest of our God given skills. If you would like to hear some of the tales from this voyage, click here