CBN.com --- If you have ever dreamed of hopping on an ocean liner to visit some far off place, you have probably thought of taking a cruise. But have you ever considered combining your love of adventure and travel on the open seas with a mission to save lives?
Mercy Ships did.
The Need is Great:
According to recent World Health Organization
about 40 million blind people in the world.
those are blind because of cataracts.
could see again with the help of state-of-the-art cataract
people in the world could see with the addition of a pair
of eyeglasses to correct refractal error.
Ships Has Done:
8,000 operations on board such as cleft lip and palate,
cataract, crossed-eyes, orthopedic and facial reconstruction.
more than 200,000 people in village medical clinics.
100,000 dental treatments.
health care workers, who have in turn trained multiplied
thousands in primary health care.
tens of millions of dollars of medical equipment, hospital
supplies, and medicines.
more than 250 construction and agriculture projects.
Since 1978 Mercy Ships, which is under the YWAM umbrella of ministries,
has been taking the love of Jesus Christ to more than 70 port cities
across the globe by retrofitting existing ocean vessels to become floating,
privately-owned hospitals, bringing free, quality health care to the
poor and needy.
Medical specialties include optical procedures, particularly cataract
surgeries (which can cost as much as $150.00 without a donation) and
crossed eye correction; cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries; dental
treatments; orthopedic and facial reconstruction; and tumor removals.
Along with medical procedures, Mercy Ships has provided more than $25
million worth of medical equipment, hospital supplies and medicines
in developing nations.
Not Just a Medical Mission
The organization also supplies developing countries with clean water
by drilling wells, providing water pumps and teaching indigenous peoples
about hygiene and sanitation. They build hospitals, clinics, training
facilities and basic housing. And they provide agricultural knowledge
and tools to help communities become self-sufficient in the production
And, of course, above all, the ministry seeks to share the Gospel of
Jesus Christ to those it touches with the compassion and healing power
Mercy Ships purchases oceangoing vessels that have reached the end
of their commercial life at or below scrap price. The ministry then
gets another 10 to 15 years usage from each ship once retrofitted.
Currently the organization owns four ships: the Anastasis, which works
in the West Coast of Africa and other places; the Island Mercy, which
works in the Pacific; the Caribbean Mercy, which visits the Caribbean
Basin and Central America; and the newest of the fleet, the Africa Mercy,
originally a Danish ferry, which is dedicated to the West Coast of Africa.
It was purchased for $6.5 million and is currently being refurbished.
The Staff and Crew
Mercy Ships personnel come from a variety of Christian denominations
and represent more than 35 different nationalities. They are both professionals
and skilled laborers operating as cooks, carpenters, hospitality personnel,
master seamen, medical doctors, dentists, educators, tour guides, administrative
personnel, computer experts, housekeepers, and welders. Staff members
work onboard or at the various land offices and must raise their own
support to be a part of the ministry.
Mercy Ships does not tour year-round. In the case of the Caribbean
Mercy, the boat generally travels for four months providing medical
assistance and then spends three months doing public relations and ship
An advance team is set up months prior to the boat's arrival to prepare
the way for the mission. Traveling with letters of protocol, the boat
then arrives at the port of the host country. The ship is welcomed by
the president and/or the first lady of the host country shortly after
The Caribbean Mercy
Recently CBN.com got a chance to take a tour of the Caribbean Mercy,
a 2,265 ton medical and relief ship, which had just come back from Puerto
We met the ship's captain, Jon Fadely, from Houston, Texas, who has
been on board the Caribbean Mercy for seven years. We met the Director
of the Caribbean Mercy, Dr. Andrew Clark, a medical doctor from New
Zealand, who has worked with the ministry for 10 years.We also met some
of the ship's other crew members.
The makeup of the 100-strong volunteer crew is diverse, bringing in
both married and single adults from 20 different nationalities. Those
aboard have served anywhere from a week to some nine years or more.
Crew living quarters are cozy, sometimes only offering enough room
to turn around. Each room is adorned with the name or names of the occupants,
family photos and sometimes Bible verses.
A full-time school provides educational assistance to children of long-term
crew ranging in age from first grade to high school.
The Caribbean Mercy's expedition to Guatemala brought medical relief
to people like 19-year-old Benigno, who had been blind since age 11
due to cataracts. Coming from a poor family, Benigno had no hope of
affording medical treatment until Mercy Ships arrived and offered cataract
surgery free of charge.
And then there is Damaris. This 14-year-old girl with a crossed eye
also got corrective surgery when the Caribbean Mercy visited. Before
surgery, Damaris was so embarrassed by her appearance that she lived
a reclusive life. Now she has hope and renewed vision.
Mercy Ships literally impacts the lives of thousands in developing
countries. Just ask Ed Schnutenhaus, who has been with the ministry
for three and a half years and as crew of the Caribbean Mercy for two
"We touch the lives of usually 25- to 30,000 people each time we go
on an outreach, one way or the other -- through village clinics, through
street evangelism, through coming onboard, through the media, through
crew friendship, through crew evangelism," he says.
The Caribbean Mercy is currently on her way to Charleston, South Carolina
and then on to Puerto Cortes, Honduras.
Whether you are interested in joining the crew or investing in this
tremendous ministry through your donation dollars, Mercy Ships has a
way for you to get involved. Find out more by visiting their Web site
Additional reporting by Craig von Buseck.
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