Mercy Ships Assist the Poor

When I was interviewing Michael Beans for All At Sea,
I became quite interested in
his charity – Mercy Ships and decided to do some research. What I found was
quite fascinating and I thought that readers of
AAS might enjoy knowing about these charitable medical hospitals at
sea. Basically, Mercy Ships is a global charity serving people of all faiths
that welcome volunteers who have the time to devote to the work of
bringing hope and healing to the poor in third world countries.

Their
ships at sea have performed more than 2 million services, costing 250 million
dollars, bringing medical help to over 5.5 million people since their founding
in 1978 by Don Stephens.

Until
recently, there was a Caribbean Mercy Ship which joined the fleet in 1994
and primarily focused on the Caribbean Basin
and Central
America. Unfortunately, it was placed into a
Not-In-Service mode starting 6 June, 2005 for a period of 6-12 months. When I
investigated this, I discovered that it is not known when or if it will rejoin
the worldwide fleet due to lack of funds. Obviously, this would be a wonderful
way to contribute to a project that directly affects our area. The crew on
Caribbean Mercy Ship has transferred to other Mercy Ships locations or
ships.

Following
the example of Jesus, Mercy Ships brings hope and healing to the poor,
mobilizing people and resources worldwide, bringing hope and healing to the
poor and serving all people without regard for race, gender or religion. Their
crews and staff are multi-national using land-based teams, as well as those on
board, to supplement the work of the ships. Converting old cruise ships to
hospital ships, they bring world-class medical assistance and long-term
sustainable development to over one million people a year. Their corporate
sponsors and gifts-in-kind donations result in over 2:1 leverage for all
financial gifts; however the crews defray costs by
paying monthly crew fees.

Their
areas of concentration are to help the blind see (cataract operations), the
lame to walk (orthopedic operations) and the mute to speak (cleft-lip and
palate operations). They also offer Women’s reproductive health (VVF
operations) and help to spread the “Good News” concerning the nature
and character of a loving God, which they proclaim among the poor.

They also
welcome volunteers who would like to give of their time, efforts and expertise
to the work helping them to reach their ideals. Short-term volunteers can
participate from two weeks to a full year with Mercy Ships, while others may
choose to serve in a career capacity. The Founder & President of Mercy
Ships, Texas Attorney Don Stephens runs the
International Operations Center
in Garden Valley, Texas, where he directs and leads an
international workforce of over 850 professional volunteers in 17 national
offices and on hospital ships. Currently, Mercy Ships operates three hospital
ships worldwide. The flagship of the growing fleet, the m/v
Anastasis, is currently the
world’s largest non-governmental hospital ship. All ships are
crewed by skilled international professionals including deck
officers, engineers, lab technicians, doctors, surgeons, galley crew, etc. They
all serve as volunteers with all community development services and health care
services provided free – for the poorest of the poor.

Don also
runs the Voice of “The Mercy Minute”, a radio broadcast aired on
over 700 stations daily and is the author of three books:
Ships of Mercy, “The improbable but thrilling story of how a
farm boy built a navy, how a retired ocean liner learned to be a hospital, and
how a boat load of volunteers are changing the face of the world…one
person at a time.” Thomas Nelson Publishers US and Hodder
& Stoughton UK Publishers, 2005; Trial by Trial, Harvest House
Publishers, 1985; and Mandate for Mercy,
YWAM Publishing, 1995.

Let’s get Caribbean Mercy Ship back into service. Please visit www.mercyships.org to see how you can
help.

-Performed more than 18,000 operations such as cleft lip and
palate, cataract removal, straightening of crossed-eyes, orthopedic and facial
reconstruction.
-Treated more than 300,000 people in village medical
clinics.
-Performed 110,000 dental treatments.
-Taught over 5500 local health care and professional
workers, who have in turn trained multiple thousands in primary health care.
-Trained local medical professionals in modern health care
techniques to carry on after the ship leaves.
-Delivered more than $21 million of medical equipment,
hospital supplies and medicines.
-Completed close to 350 construction and agriculture
projects including schools, clinics, orphanages and water wells.
-Demonstrated care & love to people in 95 ports in 53
developing nations.
-850 career staff and crew from more than 40 nations serving
today.
-More than 1,600 short-term volunteers serving with Mercy
Ships each year.

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