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A deeper shade of blue

“IF THERE WAS A COLOUR to express going deeper with God, it would be deep blue.”

Now, there’s a thought. I read it on the postcard of Marine Reach’s unique new Discipleship Training School, called the Bluewater DTS. As someone who used to race on sailboats in New Zealand, the imagery snagged my attention. Around Holland there’s no such thing as deep blue water. But for me this description of going deeper with God conjures up the feeling of surging out towards the deep blue yonder of the Pacific, sails billowing in the wind.

Marine Reach is a YWAM ministry stimulating vision for the use of small boats (under 300 tonnes) for mercy ministries, training and evangelism, especially to reach isolated communities. The intention is not to own a fleet of ships, but to help other YWAM ministries to use vessels for the Kingdom.

Here in Europe, two ketches (two-masted sailing boats) have been made available through Marine Reach for training projects. One is the magnificent 42 metre Elida IV from Sweden. She can sleep 52 people and has a large lounge cabin good for lectures, meals and general activities. The Elida is owned by a Swedish foundation which has loaned the vessel to Marine Reach.

Last weekend the Elida was due in Rotterdam harbour en route to Malaga, Spain, to pick up the students of the Restenas (Sweden) DTS going on outreach to North Africa. However, plans for a reception and on board tours were disrupted by a force ten storm, which broke a mast as the ketch sailed down the North Sea. Force TEN! That’s a really heavy storm!

Storms played havoc with vessels also In Albania, where Romkje and I were over the weekend. A fierce electrical storm stranded a large ship on the beach in Durres, close to where the YWAM Albania staff conference was being held. Unaware of the North Sea drama, yet aware of the Elida’s visit to Rotterdam, we pondered the potential for such a sailboat to help young Albanians be exposed to other parts of the Mediterranean, for example.

The Marine Reach small boats vision has been a positive outcome of the rather painful process we have gone through as a mission over the past few years as Mercy Ships opted to become an independent operation from YWAM. The Mercy Ships focus on bringing medical help as well as other forms of practical relief through large ships-wonderful as it is-kept us from realising the potential for small boats, which escape the stringent requirements and financial demands of ships over 300 tonnes. The Pacific branch of Mercy Ships, which chose to continue operations under YWAM’s authority and values and thus changed their name to Marine Reach, made us aware of this largely untapped resource.

Marine Reach is assisting small boat projects also in the Amazon, in southern Africa and the Pacific. Of special interest to us in Europe, is a second, smaller ketch, the Genevieve Challenge, which will be home for 18 DTS students next spring in the Aegean Sea. They set sail from Leptokaria, under the shadow of Mt Olympus in Greece, possibly the very beach where Paul boarded a sailing vessel as he travelled from Thessalonica down to Athens (see Acts 17:14). The school, under the leadership of Cassie Williams (who has crewed on a square-rigger across the Indian Ocean) will sail on the Genevieve Challenge across to Turkey-Asia Minor in Biblical times-and offer a most stimulating discipleship training environment geographically, historically and in terms of lessons derived from sailing itself.

Think of the life-lessons to be learnt from sailing: the setting of one’s directions in life, the reliance on maps and charts, the need for a compass in life, the influence of a small rudder on a large boat (the tongue, see James 3:4), the counter-balance of a keel and ballast (character) for wind in the sails, the trimming of sails to catch the wind (of the Spirit), the need for team-work and authority, the reading of weather-changes (understanding the times), the need and use of an anchor (hope), enduring heavy weather, and even how to respond to disasters in life … such as breaking your mast!

And of course, the risk and adventure of heading out into deep blue waters … with God.

(For photos of both ketches and other information, see www.marinereach.com)

Till next week,

Jeff Fountain

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