Kristin B. from Iowa.
I have been with Friend Ships for
almost 3 years now. I normally work in the office at Port
Mercy but I got to go on the M/V Hope on the Mission to Honduras 2004.
I was part of the domestics department and also during the mission I was
the Guest Coordinator for those coming in for this mission.
What was the most significant thing during the mission?
medical outreach sites getting the opportunity to personally assist the
people in need.
Leading a woman to the prayer tent, she was crying during prayer and
seemed to be impacted a lot and opened up to those praying. Also
seeing how eager the people were to wait all day in order to be seen by
the medical teams. It was wonderful to pray with every patient that
had the opportunity to go with one of the doctors from the medical team
with a pastor, and translator to a house in Tegucigalpa. There we
visited a man that was dying, it was incredible to see the faith of his
family that prayed for a miracles and believe something had taken place.
Being part of the Friend Ships team is really hard work but, you'll be so
rewarded. You make great memories and in the end you're very glad that
you helped to accomplish something for His Kingdom.
Matthew from Arizona.
I went on the M/Hope on the Mission to
Honduras 2004. I have been with Friend Ships for over a year now and
continue to do so. I got to work in the engine room on the ship
while at sea and worked on the medical outreach teams. I learned a
lot during that mission. Probably hundreds of people accepted Christ
in some of the tents were I worked during the outreaches. I got the
opportunity to pray for physical healing for many people and I believe in
faith they received it.
One of the biggest blessings was the enthusiasm the short and long term
volunteers had during the mission to serve, it kept me going every week.
The voyage to
Honduras was nothing short of miraculous. I am completely humbled
that God allowed me to have a part of this trip. I witnessed so much
of his power and love that it is difficult to find words to share the
The day we left was nothing short of
perfect. The water on the river as we headed out was dead calm and
reflected the trees and the clouds like a mirror. We set sail at 6:00
a.m. At 8:00 a.m. I reported for my first watch, I was assigned to work
on the bridge for the voyage. Alternating between steering the ship as a
"Helmsman" or watching out for obstacles and other traffic as a
"Lookout". I was really nervous and unsure of my new duties, but the
two men that I was on watch with, taught me well and put me at ease very
soon. I was on duty from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. then again at 8:00
p.m. to 12:00 a.m. In between the time I was off and I was able to do
what ever I wished. There were great opportunities to sunbathe and get a
fabulous tan! I also spent a lot of time on the bow of the ship with
friends staring down into the crystal blue waters. They were fun times
watching the fish being caught and seeing beautiful sunsets that will not
soon be forgotten. All in all, the trip down was more like a vacation for
me then work. It took five days to reach the Island of
Once we reached Roatán everything changed
quickly however. It was time to do what we came for. It was busy and hot
and difficult, but very rewarding. We did three clinics on the Island.
The first was in Coxen Hole, one of the biggest villages on the Island.
It was in a very poor barrio and the need seemed great. I don't remember
the exact numbers but it was somewhere around 1500 in the first three
days. Two things stand out the most: First, being present as a husband
and wife together chose to invite Jesus into their hearts. Second, seeing
an old man dying from AIDS who had only days or hours left in his life, He
was shown love, forgiveness, compassion, and tenderness. He too chose to
give his heart to Jesus, and I was lucky enough to be witness to it all.
God is so beautiful. His beauty and love revealed even in such difficult
Our next clinic site was in French
Harbor we were there for three days as well. During this first week I had the
opportunity to work in the same tent with my good friend Michele from
Ohio who is a nurse. It was so
great to be together again and now working together for the Lord. We saw
many patients and worked until we were exhausted, but really felt what we
were doing was making a difference. We were not just giving these people
medicine and sending them out to get sick again. But had the opportunity,
freedom and encouragement, to pray with every single patient. People
really opened up to us about the hurts in their lives and we were able to
lead them to the ultimate healer, Jesus.
Main land Honduras: A clinic site in the near by village
of Choloma. When we arrived the first day there were people lined up
in every direction and it was very over whelming. The people at this
location were affected by much worse illnesses than those we had seen
before. We saw a large variety of Tropical diseases including Malaria,
Dengue, and Tropical Ulcers. It was also very dark spiritually. In the
past this village had been very active in witchcraft, and there seemed to
be a darkness that lingered. The people were very hungry for the Gospel,
and we (as a team) were witness to many decisions for Christ. I
had a very emotional week at this site as I witnessed to people who were
very sick and/or dying, and then sharing great joy as they and others gave
their hearts and lives to Jesus.
Next Tela, Honduras. After a short voyage we
arrived in the most beautiful and tropical site to date. We stayed at
anchor just off shore and spent a lot of time traveling back and forth to
the site, either by helicopter or by shore boat then driving. The most
amazing case at this site was Baby Melissa. You can read more about her
story on the
It is an awesome testimony to God's goodness and the fact that He is still
the God of miracles! I made good friends with my interpreters here
(and in the other cities). We also had a chance to get a day of R&R
and went to a national park that was very close to a Jurassic
Park experience. I expected
dinosaurs to appear at any moment.
I had a very memorable encounter with a 12
year old boy who stood in l line all day (from
7:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.)
just to get a worm pill. After receiving it he sheepishly asked if he
could get some for his 3 younger brothers and sisters. After getting him
vitamins and worm pills for all of them, we had a conversation about
Jesus. After learning that he could read, the young man left with a bible
in his hand and a hunger in his heart to know more about this Jesus. I
will not forget this young man anytime soon.
Tegucigalpa, Honduras clinic site -
next two actually. Our team along with the Bomberos loaded up all of our
gear and traveled 7 hours across
Honduras to the Capital.
At this clinic it turned out that God had bigger plans than we could have ever
imagined, the people responded wonderfully to being fed free meals and
loved and prayed for in addition to the free medicine. These two
clinics were the most challenging by far. Joining our team was some
of the local Honduran doctors that came to help, we saw over 800 patients
a day, many of them very ill. One of the
miracles I witnessed here was God multiplying our medicine and somehow
making it last far longer than we every expected. This was a direct
answer to prayer and still leaves me in awe.
I have grown and been stretched on this
voyage and have learned many new things that God has revealed to me.
One of the best things he showed me on this trip was the incredible beauty
of the body of Christ. Every day I was given a new opportunity to
meet Christians and see the role that God gave them. Every day I got
to see members of my fellow crewmen grow and learn new things and new ways
to serve God. Every day I saw something that made my heart swell at
the beauty that Christ brings into ordinary people. The entire crew
I worked with was just ordinary people, who with a spirit of humility and
willingness, God used to accomplish extraordinary things. I am so
blessed to be part of such a fantastic family. Everyone had a role,
whether is was praying, cooking, cleaning, driving, lifting, providing
medical assistance, interpreting, working in the office, providing
supplies, doing laundry, or just listening. Everyone had a part, and
every part was important. I am so thankful and grateful that I got
to go and learn and see.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus
Christ be with you all!
Completely sold out for Jesus, Jennifer.
My family and I began
this journey to Israel two years ago when we said "yes" to the Lord and were
sent out by our congregation in Virginia to assist in the Friend Ships
ministry. We had no idea where we would be going or to whom the Lord
would be sending us. Within one month of our arrival at Friend Ships
in Galveston, Texas, we were asked to travel up to Seattle to re-activate
the Spirit of Grace, which had been in lay up for about 3 years. In
February 2002, we drove up to Seattle from Texas with several other crew
to join the skeleton crew who were living on the ship maintaining it in
It was a time of much learning and hard work to get the ship ready to leave
in 2 ½ months, but we sailed in April 2002 for the Panama Canal and
Galveston. When we arrived in Galveston, we performed an overhaul of
the ship, getting it ready for a long trans-Atlantic voyage. Many
improvements were made and God taught us so much about the ship and
ourselves. The most important lesson we learned is that when you determine
to follow God on His timetable and for His purposes, things do not go according
to your timetable. Many times we felt like we would never be leaving
for Israel. But the Lord was showing us that it was not by our own
power or wisdom, or capability that we can accomplish anything worthwhile
for Him. He had purposed in His heart to bless Israel and He wanted
to use us to do it. During the two years we worked on this mission,
we have seen people come to Friend Ships, serve some time, and move on to
other pursuits. But those who stayed were blessed to see the fruits
of the labor and waiting.
On 1 November 2003, we sailed for Israel! At times, security was tight
and we could not even discuss where in Israel we would be going. In
fact, we knew very little of what we would be doing there. But the
Lord knew and He revealed it to us in the proper time. When we arrived
in Ashdod on Christmas Eve, we had such a warm welcome from the Israelis.
They invited us over to a Christmas luncheon at a banquet hall on the Port
property. We felt like kings. We had come to bless Israel, but
we ended up being more blessed by them. Everyone we met wondered, "who
are these supplies for?" and "why have you come?" The answer was easy to
give. We love Israel and the people of Israel because the God of Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob loved us enough to send His only Son, Yeshua, to die for
our sins. Each of us has a past, but thanks be to God that our future
is in His hands! And that future included being a blessing to His people
Israel, even as He promised long ago through the prophets.
The warmth and friendship we felt from the Israelis was incredible.
Many people were amazed to see our children as part of the crew, but God
even used them to show He is no respecter of persons. They had a chance
to visit and play with Israeli children and enjoy the Land the Bible speaks
about in the many stories they have heard. We toured all over the country
on our time off with a wonderful guide arranged by Friend Ships. It
was both safe and incredibly informative.
On New Year's Eve, the Port of Ashdod had a dinner for us and prepared a
party room. We all gathered in the party room and prayed for the New
Year and especially for God's blessing on Israel.
The Holy Spirit will testify in the hearts of all who love
God. And this is our greatest lesson, that God is doing a work in Israel
and He has allowed us to be a part of this work. There are plans for
many more trips to Israel with Spirit of Grace. I would encourage anyone
with a heart for God to come and see what He will do with you. You
will never be the same again.
The Condron Family (David,
Diane, Nathanael & Elise)
Wayne & Nancy
One of the highlights of our trip was
the New Year's Eve party! The hospitality of the port personnel has
been awesome...the food was great! After dinner, we all got in a prayer
sang Hallelujah and other praise songs. Then we all took turns praying
for Israel. It touched the hearts of the port personnel there!
They felt God's awesome power and love! "What you all have is real,
so is your God!" This and seeing one of the children's centers meant
a lot to us.
from Guatemala and Colleen from New York - met and
married at Friend Ships.
Gunter: Every trip has
its good things and its own flavor. However, my first voyage overseas to
Russia sticks out the
most. It was the first
country I helped. We were part of the most important relief mission for them,
as it was within six hours of the fall of communism and the coup d'etat in
Colleen: The Russia voyage
was a missionary's dream. The hours were long, but the country had been so
shut off from God that when we arrived with Bible tracts, the people flocked
to read God's word and receive salvation. The crew all rushed through dinner
so we could hand out tracts in the streets of Russia. We carried trash bags
full of them, and we still didn't have enough.
I remember, one day during a
crusade in Russia, we began early in the morning, after many late nights,
filling thousands of grocery bags with food to give away to those who attended
the service. We were hard at work in a back room of the stadium while a service
was being held in the main arena. Suddenly, someone ran into our room and
said, "Come on Crew, you've got to see this!" Not knowing what to expect,
all of us rushed into the main seating area. It took a moment to fully realize
what we were seeing - but as we did, chills ran through us. Almost everyone
in the entire stadium had come forward to accept Jesus, we had tears in our
eyes. Honestly, it seemed as though we had died and gone to " missionary
Gunter and Colleen: To
become a successful crew member, a person must want to serve God and have
a heart to help people. Since we need people in several areas at different
times, people must be willing to do whatever needs to be done.
Gunter: I had some prior
diesel mechanic training, but since joining Friend Ships, I have not only
learned about ships and but also about respecting people, knowing each one's
limitations, and being a servant. I am constantly reminded that the ship
is just a tool, and that our main purpose is to help people. Learning this
has been a process. I have always been in the engine room, starting out as
a wiper, then oiler, then engineer, and now, the head engineer. God has given
me all the grace I have needed to make decisions. I enjoy helping others
achieve their goals and teaching people about the engine room the best. We
could really use new crew members in the engine room who have specific knowledge
in particular areas, like refrigeration and DC electricity, as well as machinery,
or a basic mechanics orientation, not necessarily diesel mechanics.
This ministry reaches vast numbers
of people that can't be reached in normal neighborhood surroundings. I don't
know of many other organizations that reach as many people as we do, helping
them physically. Friend Ships is effective.
Colleen: I have learned
not to be afraid to do anything with or without training, and to do my best
doing what needs to be done. I have also learned that not everyone thinks
like me, especially people from different countries. We accept people with
their strengths and weaknesses, and we help each one grow and stretch into
their potential. You have to be a hard worker. Friend Ships challenges people.
One can go as far as one wants to go - there are no growth limits. The leadership
encourages learning and flexibility. Friend Ships is truly a "walk of faith"
both, personally and corporately.
We can't be compared with another
organization. For ten years, I have had three meals a day, clothing, and
a place to sleep, sometimes with no support and at other times, with some
outside funds. The Lord provides. Having more support helps and makes it
easier, but it's not essential.
Janelle, from Bozeman, Montana.
At the heart of why I want to
serve with Friend Ships, is summed up by this excerpt from the book
written by Don and
Sondra Tipton the founders of the ministry:
"Success in serving God wasn't based on me, or on anyone's great knowledge
of the Bible or thundering spiritual ability, but on the love that God has
for the poor, hungry and dying people who are perishing without knowing His
great love." When I first read the book, it resonated with what
I understood was God's will and His purpose for my life. There was
no doubt that this was where God wanted me because only He could put the
desire in me to serve Him.
I have been with the ministry
over a year. I have done domestic work mostly during the preparation
of the ship going to Roatán, Honduras for its' next mission trip.
There I will have the opportunity to stay and work along with the staff at
the Friend Ships Village there on the Island. It has been my privilege
to help keep things clean for the staff. I consider it a true blessing
to support my brothers and sisters who share in following the commands of
Jesus, to feed the hungry and bring them the gospel.
In closing, I encourage you
with these words from "Jesus & Company" that echo what I feel and show
the faith and compassion of those at Friend Ships: "We were the
fortunate ones, born in the land of milk and honey (with granaries running
over) and free to worship God. But now we knew we were obligated to
others. The Word of God tells us over and over that we are responsible
. . . knowledge of the Word without putting it to the test is only
knowledge, . . . it's easy to say we believe and trust God; the hard part
would be putting our faith to work . . . We knew this move would take
trust, complete trust. We would be totally dependent on the Lord
to provide our food, our clothing - everything . . . from this point on we
chose to take whatever remaining time God granted us to live as if we
had died to our selves . . . doing all that we could to advance the Kingdom
Betty from Los Angeles, California.
One thing I have seen at Friend
Ships, like no other place, has been the power of prayer. Whether it has
been asking God for ship supplies, healing, or even a jar or peanut butter,
He answers prayers. I have worked in the galley, hospitality, laundry, supplies,
and even the engine room, doing stats. I am blessed to do what's needed.
The people are great. They are available, have different backgrounds, and
do all to God's glory. I would do all of this over again, given the opportunity.
For people considering Friend Ships, visit the ships and pray, there are
miracles here on a daily basis.
I first heard about Friend Ships
when my youth pastor was planning a missions trip to
Honduras, two years
ago. My sister went on this trip and decided to join, full-time, so I escorted
her to Roatan. On the way to the Roatan airport with my return ticket in
hand, God placed in my heart that He wanted me to join Friend Ships for a
period of time as well. So, the taxi turned around, brought me back to the
facility, and here I am.
I spent the first three weeks
in Roatán, then I was transferred to the "Spirit of Grace." I've worked
in the engine room and on deck for the second voyage that brought relief
supplies to victims of Hurricane Mitch, and now I'm on deck and bridge for
voyage three to Honduras and Guatemala.
Friend Ships is a working ministry.
Some times the work gets difficult, but the rewards are beyond description.
God has used this ministry to pull out my potential by testing my endurance,
both physically and emotionally. I am learning so much.
The people are so precious to
Him. He blesses us with so much that I have been able to be here with less
than $10 a month support. I remember praying for Q-tips & now I have
a year's supply. This is where it's happening! In good times or in tough
times, I'll stick it out, because God works in all situations. Knowing what
I know about Friend Ships, I would do it again and recommend it to anyone,
short-term, long-term, whatever God says.
Omar from Guatemala City, Guatemala.
the Spirit Ship's visit to
Guatemala, the opportunity
arose for several of us to join the crew. The excitement of being on a ship
and crossing the Atlantic appealed to me. It also coincided with my desire
to serve God and people. My family is proud of me. Personally, God has used
Friend Ships to help me grow up, teach me how to handle situations, and
strengthen my trust in Him, without doubting. Friend Ships trains people
I have also developed lifelong
relationships with people here because of the openness and honesty. At first
the language barrier was difficult. So, I learned English with the help of
the crew. Since then, I've worked on deck, progressed to the bridge and now
I'm an officer.
My most memorable experience
remains the time
we went to
Albania. A few of
us traveled to the highlands to deliver food. The hunger of the people struck
my heart. They were so open to the Gospel and that's when I realized that
my work moved the "Kingdom" forward. As a part of the Body of Christ, Friend
Ships affects many lives around the world, through delivering love and food
to people. We do not realize, from the comfort of our own homes, that all
around the world, people cry for food and the basic necessities. If someone
wants to be part of a team, then come along with us. Jesus has something
special for each one, and He'll show you what people need.
Jeremy from Copalis Beach, Washington and
Stacy from Spokane, Washington - met and married at Friend
I remember being at the Urbana conference, a place where ministries recruit
people once every three years. Once I saw Friend Ships, God made it plain
this was where he wanted me. Since arriving, I've sailed on three voyages,
helped break ground in
Honduras, and have
seen, first-hand, food delivered to the victims of Hurricane Mitch. Some
times have been easier than others. God taught me so much through each
circumstance. God called me to be a pastor ever since I was little. Through
Friend Ships, I am learning to trust God, follow Him, and grow in Him, better
than I ever dreamed. When we were chipping paint, that's when God started
showing me how to live. People here are ordinary people with ordinary problems.
Their obedience and faithfulness makes each one special. This is real life
experience. There are other benefits as well. For instance, I have learned
to weld, drive forklifts, dump trucks, road graders, and learned about the
ship's deck department. It's not just learning to work stuff, but learning
how each thing works. God provides for all my needs. I have always had food,
clothes, and a place to sleep. Some times, from outside Friend Ships, I have
had more money than needed, and other times, no money for months. The greatest
key for anyone, anywhere and in any situation, is to be faithful.
Ever since I was little, I dreamed of being a missionary but didn't know
how. To me, missionaries settled in a far off village overseas. I never thought
of being one on a ship. When I arrived to Friend Ships in Roatán,
it felt like home. Since then, I have worked on the island, aboard the ship
in the deck department and hospitality, and now, I'm learning the bridge.
Everyday is different from the last. God shows me so much here - His hand
moves everything forward. I enjoy living at Friend Ships because I can see
His love and power. Now, not only did I meet my husband here, but I also
work with him, doing what we love to do. I feel like the most blessed person
in the world!
Skip, wife, Lisa and son, Dane from
Lisa: We heard about Friend
Ships through a pastor friend who used to be a missionary. Apparently, he
heard Don Tipton speak and was impressed by Don's "go-for-it" attitude, rather
than excuses why something could not be done. Then, as Skip was reading
say "Wow, you gotta read this," or "Amazing."
out of curiosity I read it too. We finished the book in a day and reread
it since then. We want to read it again too. The book influenced us so much
that we wanted to meet the people of Friend Ships.
We were encouraged to volunteer,
part-time, as the captain because we knew our family would benefit from the
experience and the fellowship. The level of commitment and faith in God by
the crew impresses us. Each one causes the ship to move closer to its goal.
We see both the spiritual aspects as well as the work and both are good.
I encourage any Christian, with or without training or experience to
participate with Friend
Ships, in one way
Aaron from Chicago, Illinois.
remember looking for a place to help. Then, my buddy and I stopped into a
church in Anaheim and spoke with the youth pastor. He mentioned they were
heading to Friend Ships the next day with the youth and wondered if we wanted
to go. "Sure, sounds cool!" so we tagged along for the ride. We just thought
we'd be gone for the summer, helping the youth group, but when we saw Friend
Ships and the food program, we fell in love and joined up. Now, I've worked
on two of the ships and been to California, Texas, Honduras, Guatemala, and
am on my way to more countries.
What I've learned here not only
includes technical skills applicable for employment as a marine engineer,
but I've discovered that it's also a "mission field" of experience and life
skills. It's a great step before college where I'll study to be a computer
engineer. This has truly been a learning experience and a time of growth.
I've made life-long friends.
Aaron from Niwot, Colorado.
There were many opportunities
to do a one year mission's trip, but at the last minute, I decided to join
Friend Ships. This is the first time I have been away from my family and
school friends. God has taught me so much here. I've learned about being
humble and patient, about my relationships with God and seeking Him,
whole-heartedly. It amazed me to learn how much I crammed into my life that
took away from just a simple relationship with Him.
I have also learned skills on
the deck, at the warehouse, in the engine room, and the bridge, that include
radar plots, driving forklifts, warehousing, plumbing, and working with
My favorite time, so far, was
when I lived on the "Faithful" in Los
Angeles. We had four
single guys about my age in one section of the ship. This made for awesome
discussions, and life-long friends. I enjoyed helping the Hurricane Mitch
victims in Honduras and giving food to people in Los Angeles. Friend Ships
has a great orientation program too. It reminds me of a week long Bible study
and it taught me a lot. God works through Friend Ships and in Friend Ships.
This is a good place to listen to Him and to serve.
The leadership genuinely cares
for my personal growth, always helped me, been patient, and is understanding
and compassionate. Truly a superb choice for a one-year mission's trip and
the only qualification to join: willingness to serve!
being involved with World Vision several years ago, I knew that it was the
kind of work that one day I would like to work in full-time. I grew to learn
a lot about Friend Ships through a friend, who had left Australia to join
the Friend Ships staff in Los Angeles. I had read
book "Jesus and Company"
and was so amazed at the faith
of two people and the Awesomeness of God. I knew that God was calling me
to go, my pastor, my friends and my family all confirmed it and so l
I guess the main reason I wanted
to go to the mission field was that l wanted God to change my heart. The
cry of the hungry and the orphan have always tugged deeply at my heart. Seeing
the vast needs of so many, l knew l couldn't go out and save them all, but
I could be a part of a team who were making a huge difference in many nations.
Bob Pearce of World Vision once said "Let my heart be broken by the things
that break the heart of God," that has been my prayer, and as I work daily,
hearing the great needs of missionaries around the world, and working to
send out ships carrying thousands of tons of aid to the needy, God
is changing my heart, building my faith, and lifting my eyes toward
Another reason was that l believed
as a Christian, I needed to sow into another nation and help to provide
humanitarian aid where it was needed. I had always thought that perhaps,
maybe one day we might be the ones in need of other nations help.
I think of the thousands of
Christians in Honduras fasting and praying and standing on the promise of
Gods' word, "If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves
and pray, then l will hear from heaven and heal their land." Faithfully
and fervently they prayed, then one unsuspecting day Hurricane Mitch came
and hovered over their nation for three days. The land was devastated, thousands
killed, more than a million left homeless, but the Christians stood firm
on Gods word.
I know that God's ways are not
ours and his thoughts are higher than ours. My desire is to see God move
across Australia and turn that nation upside down with the gospel of Jesus
Christ, but I also wonder what it will take to change the heart of our nation.
And so I believe the principle of sowing and reaping goes far beyond our
There's a scripture in Ecclesiastes
3:11, that says . . . . "that he has put eternity in their hearts." I have
thought so much about that verse, and asked God, "what does it mean to have
eternity in our hearts?" And He showed me that if we have eternity in our
hearts, then we will look ahead and see that eternity is moving toward us
daily, and that we will see that the time we have left before the return
of Jesus, is short. And if we have eternity in our hearts then we will look
at the time we have left and see souls. There's the promise of ,"no more
tears, no sorrow, no pain" and so on . . . . " and in that time we will never
want again, life will be perfect, we will be perfect." And so with the promise
of that, from now until then, with Eternity in my heart I want to use that
time wisely to reach the lost, and fulfill the great commission. For me,
being here has been more fulfilling than I imagined and I am learning that
in God, there are no limits.
from Guatemala and Derida from Albania - met and married at Friend
Ships. With Daughter Albana from Texas.
Ovidio: I joined Friend
Ships in 1992 and I can
truly say: Friend Ships has been a
blessing for my life. It has been a school where I've learned not only technical
skills (started as a wiper in the engine room and now I am an
engineer), but also spiritual truths, right there in the middle of putting
together motor parts, with my greasy hands. It's strange to realize how short
of knowledge you are, as you try to do something you've never done before,
and then look up to God and say through you I can do it, teach me Holy Spirit.
Challenges like these are not rare in Friend Ships, but just like Peter,
we can walk on the water as long as we look up to Jesus for answers. And
the Holy Spirit is there to teach us and anoint our hands for the work that
needs to be done.
It's not about abilities,
(even though we can use a lot of skilled people!), it's about being willing
to be used and seeing yourself as an empty vessel in need to be filled by
God. As I look back to the years before I came to Friend Ships, I see a lot
of changes in me. God had to change and renew my heart in order to create
a servant's heart out of it. And He is still working, molding and testing
me each day. It feels good, even though sometimes it's hard. I like to see
how the principle of sowing and reaping is in full use in Friend Ships; you
bless and get blessed, you love and are loved, you learn and have the opportunity
to teach others that come along.
God has blessed me in so many
ways, taking me to so many countries, allowing me to meet so many people,
know so many cultures and realize that he loves us all in the same way. I
don't have much to give to Him in return, but my life and hands and I'm thankful
to God for using them to further His kingdom.
I'm glad God called me to this
ministry. Here I even met my precious wife and now are both blessed with
a beautiful baby girl. It's so special to serve as a family and look forward
to more miracles and blessings that God has in store. Have I used the word
blessing very many times? Yes, Friend Ships it's a place filled with them.
Are you looking for a place to serve? Come, don't wait anymore, join
the Friend Ships team and experience God first hand for yourself.
Derida: When I was little,
talking and playing with my friends, often the question: "what are you going
to be when you grow up?" would come up. A lot of my friends answered: a teacher,
a doctor, an engineer, an artist . . . , but my answer was a strange one:
I wanted to travel on a yacht and go to different islands. At that time Albania
was under communism and to leave the country was beyond a dream, you couldn't
even think of it. But I used to close my eyes and allow myself to dream
Years went by and I even became
a French teacher and translator, but no yacht on the horizon. And the dream
started to fade away. Soon after the first church in Albania was open up,
I got saved and a couple of months later started to work for a humanitarian
organization called "God loves Albania" and then "Hope for Albania." We
distributed aid to needy people in Albania and preached the gospel any chance
we had. It was a good job, very fulfilling.
Friend Ships "Spirit" came to
Albania and with
it the calling of God to be part of the crew. I couldn't understand at that
time why would I leave what I was doing and join Friend Ships, but the calling
was too strong inside of me. And I became part of the crew. That was in itself
a dream. I was the second person to leave Albania as a missionary, and God
opened doors that were never opened before.
I ended up working on the bridge,
steering the ship and then being the navigating officer (which school
did I study in? That of the Holy Spirit, like so many of us.) And one
night during my night watch at sea, God
reminded me of my dream . . . He had
given me the desire of my heart: instead of a yacht, a 338' ship, instead
of a yacht for pleasure, a ship filled with His Love and Blessings, so that
I could be blessed and bless others in His name! And Galveston,
Haiti, Roatan, San Lucia, San
Kitts, Antigua, Jamaica
are some of the islands God
took me to, to proclaim His name and help the needy. The list continues with
quite a few countries, each of them an unforgettable experience: the wonderful
people we meet, the great crusades where thousands got saved and delivered
from bondage, the testimonies of answered prayers through Friend Ships, the
tears of goodbyes as the ship pulled away.
What can I say, how can I count
all the many blessings and wonderful lessons and experiences in these seven
years with Friend Ships? All I can say is that they have been the best years
of my life. God has loved me, cared for me, blessed me, changed me, tested
me, strengthened me, allowed me to grow in Him and taught me how to do all
this for others in His Name. It has not always been easy, but then again
God never said it will be, he just promised that He will always be there!
Friend Ships is a great place to serve and I praise God for what he has done
in and through a bunch of people like us, not because we are special, just
because we said: "Yes, Lord. Send me."