I spent last Tues-Sat on the L Hope in Germany. The ship is not yet in service, but is getting closer. The L2 (my old home), is currently in her last few weeks of ministry in the Caribbean, but will be sold in the summer. The D is in PNG and still doing great ministry. But the L Hope is getting closer. She is a massive ship! The feel of life onboard is very different than I am used to, because of the size, but there is so much to be excited about. There are currently 315 folks onboard, including quite a number of project workers. Hopefully a large number will be joining in September to get the staff and crew up to the necessary 400 (she can hold 500, but some of these spaces will be kept for visitors, guests and short-term groups).
I spoke 7 times during the few days onboard. In morning devotions we looked at two stories from Luke 18 and 19. During two days I gave two sessions on leadership character and heart development. In the evenings I spoke on guidance, finding a life partner and mentoring. By the Friday night I was starting to get those good conversations that are so enjoyable, but then Saturday I had to leave to come home. Actually, thinking about it, Wednesday night was good for conversation too – after a two hour session on finding a life partner, then another hour in discussion with a small group, followed by another couple of hours with two individuals. Conversation is often the highlight of “formal” ministry. So it was a quick visit, but still worthwhile to get a better understanding of the ship, to see old friends and hopefully to make some contribution to the spiritual life onboard.
In a couple of months the ship will go to Sweden for a drydock, then to Denmark for the final preparations before sailing to the UK at the end of the year (London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, not in that order). There will still be much to do in terms of getting used to the new ministry potential of the ship. Eventually, once the people are onboard, trained and used to functioning together, and once the ship is fully prepared for action, it will be an incredible tool for ministry.
Please pray for the workers to be able to make good progress in these next months. Pray for the Passenger Ship Safety Certificate, which is required before she can sail with everyone onboard. Pray for the final chunk of funding to come in and for the necessary recruits too. Pray for the ship’s company already onboard, that they will adjust to the new community ethos onboard and the constant changes as the launch into ministry nears. It’s an exciting time to be joining the ship ministry, so if you’re interested, just let me know! It’s an exciting time to be praying for the ship ministry too!