As a Senior Cit I sometimes wake up early, as happened this morning. So I just lay in bed and listened to Radio National for a while, which was replaying the latest Radio Australia "Asia Pacific" — an excellent program, by the way, and you will notice a feed from it in my side bar.
The item which struck me has now appeared on the feed, I see. It concerned the work of the M V Doulos, whose captain is an Australian ex-Navy man, Ashley McDonald. The ship itself is fascinating.
Constructed in 1914, MV Doulos is the world’s oldest active ocean-going passenger ship. During her lengthy career, she has sailed under four distinct names: Medina, Roma, Franca C and Doulos. The ship has been utilised for four very different purposes: freighting goods, transporting emigrants, for cruises, and most recently in her present role as a vessel to bring knowledge, help and hope to the people of the world. During her lifetime, she has twice been extensively renovated and upgraded, and undergone two engine replacements. She has been registered in the United States of America, Panama, Italy and Malta.
It is about to be retired, which was the hook for today’s story.
It is also the world’s largest floating bookshop, and that is one of its missions as it sails into places like Dili in East Timor, Kavieng in PNG, and other ports around the world.
And yes, it is a missionary ship, though Radio Australia didn’t actually mention this. You may judge what they do from their website; in their mission statement they write:
The Doulos community lives and works together on board as a practical outworking of their service for God. Each individual has a personal, living faith in God, stemming from a restored relationship with Him, bringing hope, meaning and focus to his or her life. The ship community desires to share this message of hope in a restored relationship with God in the ports visited. This is done with greatest respect for and sensitivity towards the culture of the community hosting the ship.
Go through the site and see what they do. Forty different nationalities work on the ship. I am sure on balance, whatever your views on religion, you will find they add to rather than subtract from the good in the world — and unlike most of us, they have got off their butts to make a difference.