A business training takes place in West Africa. The training is based on biblical values – though the participants are often not Jesus followers. Photo by Rebecca Rempel.

Gifts that keep giving

Through repeat visits to a West African port, OM’s Ship Ministry partners with a local pastor for ongoing impact and community transformation.

Born in a West African village, Pastor Moses* escaped being sacrificed to the village goddess at the age of ten when his sister rescued him and relocated him to the city.

As an adult, Pastor Moses heard God telling him to go back to his people group. “I had escaped from the goddess, and I knew that they were definitely still going to seek to find a way to kill me,” he shared. Pastor Moses prayed for two years before he decided to visit the village where he was born. When he told his wife and children goodbye, he did not know if he would ever see them again.

Arriving in the village, Pastor Moses sought to help many individuals, who were also leaders in the village. After a couple weeks, however, Pastor Moses needed to return to the city. Lacking resources to train future leaders, he did not know how to continue the work in his village and beyond.

Providentially, he connected with one of the OM Ship Ministry vessels, Logos II, which visited West Africa in 2005. The Ship Ministry provided Pastor Moses with books to help mentor emerging young leaders, who struggled to find any literature in their nation, and a van to help him reach rural villages. Repeat visits by subsequent OM ships helped provide Pastor Moses and others with the “resources and tools that were needed for us to go out and reach out to our community,” he shared.

Even after the ships left the port, the community continued to benefit from their visits. Pastor Moses created a small reference library with the literature that had been donated, inviting over 50 young leaders to study the material, and equipping them to serve other villages. “It is not just about the ship sailing and going from nation to nation, but the impact it is making is far greater than what they could ever imagine,” Pastor Moses shared.

‘God is working’

In 2021, Logos Hope returned to West Africa. Nehemias*, a crewmember from Argentina, described the community’s cheerful and warm welcome to the port: “people dancing on the quayside, others doing tricks with fire, and all of them waving to us as the ship arrived.”

Amongst those most eager to welcome the ship was Pastor Moses. On board once again, he shared his story with a small group, emphasising the positive impact of previous ship visits and expressing his desire for ongoing progress in his community. Hearing his testimony encouraged current crewmembers to continue sharing knowledge, help and hope.

“I realised that even when we might wonder whether God is at work or not, He is always moving and touching hearts,” Nehemias shared.” Sometimes when we go out to connect with the local communities, or when we receive people in the bookfair or International Café, we can’t tell if our interactions made a difference, if the message of hope came across. After listening to Pastor Moses’ stories, we were encouraged to know that the seeds that are planted do give fruit in time.”

“We usually hear about the catalytic nature of the ship, and I believe that our time in West Africa with a partner like Pastor Moses is a clear demonstration of this nature,” Nehemias said. “When we identify, connect and partner with organisations or individuals like Pastor Moses, we can see how the interactions with a community from over 60 different nationalities make a difference: people get encouraged, motivated and realise that what they are doing really matters.”

Nehemias said he joined the ship so that God could use him to serve others. “Our time in West Africa was an eye-opener to me,” he said. “I can tell God is working in this region of the world and is using people like Pastor Moses to bring hope to the different communities. I realised that West Africans are hungry for the Lord, and the harvest is plentiful. We need to pray for more labourers to come into His harvest.”

*Name changed

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