Into an ocean of need dedicated medical and non-medical volunteers representing over fifty nations bring together their skills to make a lasting difference among the poor. Captains, surgeons, accountants, engineers, cooks and other crew members aboard a mercy ship are not simply volunteers. They actually pay for their room and board, thus defraying the cost of providing free service to the poor. The majority of our crew would say they are motivated to serve with Mercy Ships by an understanding of a loving God and understanding that the same loving God works through people who follow the model of Jesus.
The story is told about a little girl who liked to rescue starfish stranded on a beach and put them back in the ocean. When questioned about the futility of such action in the grand scheme of things, she affirmed the value to the starfish she encountered. In the words of Mercy Ships’ founder, Don Stephens, “The best inside us wants to offer the best to others. Behind every statistic, there’s a person in need of hope and healing. Everyone’s a story. Some heart wrenching, some heart stirring – none, though, you can forget.”
Consider 24 year old Angelle: At the age of three months, she lost her mother; at five she lost her father; at 11 she lost her grandmother. And at 13, Angelle noticed a swelling on the side of her face, which rapidly grew to the size of a melon.
After being shuffled from relative to relative, a cousin finally admitted her to a hospital to have the tumour removed. Unfortunately, the tumour soon reappeared. Surgeons refused to operate again.
Some time later, Angelle attended a Mercy Ships screening, where she was given an appointment for biopsy. Two biopsies later, Angelle learned that the tumour was benign.
“When I finally heard that I could have surgery I was ecstatic,” said Angelle, her eyes gleaming. “You can’t imagine the joy I felt in my heart as I was going to the operating room. I don’t know how to express all my gratitude. I’ve never had this kind of help before – it gives me more faith to trust God!”
Convinced that each person has immeasurable value, Mercy Ships has been bringing hope and healing to thousands like Angelle through the combined efforts of crew-members, donors and national office staff for more than 30 years.