In 1994, I signed up for a one year teaching assignment on the M/V Anastasis (Mercyships) and I ended up staying for over twenty years. During my 10 years of living and teaching on the M/V Anastasis, I had a great job working with the ship kids, met and married my wife, and experienced the world in a unique and loving community. An unexpected adventure as a part-time pastor of a local church in Benin has been a major highlight of my time in Africa.
A few years ago, I came across a journal entry from the founder of The Mocha Club – www.themochaclub.org. He was living in Ethiopia in 2008 and wrote down his thoughts about his experience in Africa at 5AM in the morning. His thoughts, that early morning, and the video that he eventually created for it have captured my experience of serving in Africa. "I've come to understand that I NEED AFRICA MORE THAN AFRICA NEEDS ME. Why? Because it is Africa that has taught me that possessions in my hands will never be as valuable as peace in my heart. I've learned that I don't need what I have and that I have what I need. These are just a few of this continent's many lessons. I came here to serve and yet I've found that I have so much to learn, and Africa, with all its need, has much to teach me."
I do need Africa more than Africa needs me. I went to Africa to make a difference. I came to help change the world for Jesus, but serving with Mercy Ships is not just about helping the poor and needy. It is also about Jesus transforming us into what He wants us to become. 2 Corinthians 3:18 - And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. I am so thankful that God has allowed me to be profoundly influenced by Africa over these many years (they do go by fast). I could have not imagined what He would do in my life when I walked up the gangway of the M/V Anastasis. Jesus has changed me through my time in serving the poor and needy with Mercy Ships and my African friends have impacted me forever.