MV Doulos (1977-2010) - MS Franca C (1952-1977) - SS Roma (1948-1952) - SS Medina (1914-1948)

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A superbly built American built ship that sailed into History and she remains with us to this very day!

With Reuben Goossens

Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer & Author

Commenced in the Passenger Shipping Industry in 1960

 

A superbly built American built ship that sailed into History and she remains with us to this very day!

Please Note: All ssMaritime and my other related ssMaritime sites are 100% non-commercial and privately owned sites. Be assured that I am NOT associated with any cruise or shipping companies or travel/cruise agencies or any other organisations! The author has been in the passenger shipping industry since May 1960 and is now semi-retired, but continues and I hope that the well over 675 Classic Liners and Cargo-Passengers ships I have written on will continue to provide classic ship enthusiasts and continue a great deal of information and pleasure!

 

SS Medina (1914-1948) was sold and renamed: SS Roma (1948-1952)

MS Franca C (1952-1977) - MV Doulos (1977-2010)

Doulos Phos (2010 - ) A land-locked Hotel at Bintan, Indonesia

MV Doulos

“A Ship Like no Other”

By Reuben Goossens 

Part Two - 2008 / Chapter Seven

Speaking with Doulos’ Crew and Volunteers

Introduction:

The world’s oldest ocean-going passenger ship rarely visits first world countries, but is in Australia from the end of July unto the end of October 2008 before heading to Singapore where she will be dry-docked for maintenance. I was fortunate to be able to be onboard the Doulos from as early as August 1 in Brisbane and to be part of the official opening and then to spend many onboard, including hosting a number of the original 1950 passengers who sailed on her when she was the Cia Naviera San Miguel SA - SS Roma, which sailed from Bremerhaven Germany to Newcastle Australia. However, I officially boarded her as a “Ministry Guest” on the 17th of August and located first in two berth cabin 260 on B Deck aft, but was then moved a larger single outside cabin, number 21 on Promenade Deck located right on the main lobby. These cabins are shown on the preceding pages. We departed Brisbane on morning of Tuesday the 19th and had a superb day and a half at sea arriving in Sydney on a chilly Thursday morning on the 21st of August, but I remained aboard thereafter.

During my month and fascinating time aboard, I was able to provide a talk on the history on the ship to the ships official tour guides, providing them with additional details and information, as well as several giving other meetings of a more spiritual nature, which is also a part of my life as many of my readers will know. In addition, my time was spent taking many photographs of every section of the ship as these new 2008 pages will prove. As well as dong interviews with a several of crew and staff members onboard, all are on the Doulos on a volunteer basis and have signed on for two years, but have been with the ship, or other ships for many more years. There are some that join the ship on a short-term basis, from as little as two weeks (but only when this is available), or two months. Their stays aboard are usually sponsored by their respective Churches or other Christian groups or a business. This will include the Captain, First Mate, Chief Engineer, to a Deck Hand, etc. The ship has around 350 people onboard, hailing from some 50 different nations, and what is so amazing as I spent tome aboard is the harmony that prevails around the ship! All receive accommodation and meals in the communal Dinning Room and everyone is allocated a specific job that they may have applied for or a job that they are suited for, be it a Chef, Baker, Helmsman or the Captain, Bible teacher, or a Cleaner. All on the Doulos are equal and eat the same simple food in the same place. It does not matter if you are the Captain or a Deck hand, in God you are all one – “Doulos” a “servant”! One thing that I did learn from all onboard is that one thing everyone learns is “patience” for obviously with people from so many different nations and backgrounds come differences and everyone needs to adapt to each other’s needs. That is what makes this ship so uniquely Christian, and this is why I have noted that when visitor’s who leave the ship after their visit, are so impressed by the special hospitality that they have received whilst they were onboard. No, there was no one swinging a Bible at them, but there was a spirit of harmony, love and hope, and that is what the Doulos is essentially all about.

My host onboard the Doulos was the wonderful Sven Benseler, a German electronic engineer, who is living and working on the ship with his wife and two small children. His official capacity onboard Doulos is “Partner Ministry” Manager. I asked him about the ships bookshop and he told me that the ships bookshop has over than 6,000 titles for sale with around a half a million books in total onboard, just under one third of these are Christian books, but the remainder are fiction, children’s books, cook books, educational, business, language, music, and books on general knowledge. In places such as Kenya and Albania, Asia and other countries the ship attracts huge crowds of people queuing up to visit the bookshop. Sven said: “In countries like Australia, it is often the age of the Doulos that is the big draw card more than the bookshop, whilst in Africa or Asia it is the bookshop. But we do come here to raise awareness of our cause.”

 It is noteworthy that the Doulos is non denominational and it represents many denominations and its aim is to bring a message of help, hope and knowledge to the world, especially to poor and isolated lands where the Doulos gives away many educational books and other needs to schools and it aids to build villages, etc. It is indeed a work of hope!

I was told a story, which had originated from Captain Graeme Bird, who had left the ship in New Zealand in July 2008. He had said, “Our true focus is education, but we do cater for other needs as well. We send teams months ahead to make sure we are addressing the needs of the countries we are to visit,” he said. “In Djibouti, for example, we discovered the staff at an Aids and TB clinic had not been paid for nine months. We went in there with a medical and building team, and built a fence with a razor fence around it, to stop men coming in the night and raping the women.” Based from another story, “We built an orphanage in Myanmar with a plantation and fish farm, to enable them to generate their own food.” The ship is staffed and sails under the banner of Operation Mobilisation in most parts of the world, and OM sources books that are earmarked for pulping which they will distribute free throughout third world countries where books are very scarce indeed.

Although the ship is owned by a Christian charity organisation and that is well known, however, she sails to many countries were she has been made welcome, for it is well known that she comes with no hidden agenda’s, as the Doulos is virtually “An open book!”

The Interviews with Reuben Goossens

Doulos’ Director - Dr. Daniel Chae PhD - South Korea

RG. Daniel, my first question is; “How and when did you get involved in this wonderful and special ministry?”

“It was in 1978 that OM’s first ship the Logos visited Pusan in Korea, and my Pastor in Seoul, where I lived, asked me to go to Pusan and be one of the volunteers. So I and a small group went drove to Pusan and we worked there for two weeks as volunteers. It was during that time that the Lord opened my heart for me to share the Gospel to the world, not only to live a good Christian live but to do much more. Then the Logos came to a port closer to Seoul and I continued there as a volunteer. However, when the ship finally left, I and a number of volunteers gathered together and formed a volunteer group named for earlier we were volunteers for the Logos. I was asked to be the leader and this group continued for six years. However, in the meantime, I joined the ship on June 16, 1979 in the Philippines for two years. I first started in the Intensive Training programme for 6 months, and worked in various departments and also line-ups. After two years I prayed, what is the next step? Before I joined the ship I was doing a Masters course on International Trade and Commerce, so I went back to finish it. At the conclusion the Lord spoke to me that He had shown me the needs of the world over the two years whilst I was on the Logos and how he could use me. So I returned to Korea, where I already had someone very special and I got married to my beloved Helen. Together we joined the Logos in 1981 and signed up for three years. Having had a total of five years on the Logos I knew that this was the work intended for us and that I now needed to further my education and decided to head for London to the “London Bible College” today it is called the “London School of Theology” where I studied from 1984 to 1987 when I joined the Doulos. However, we were advised to leave the ship for certain health reasons at that time, thus after one year we left the ship. The Pastors in Korea asked me to go back to London to lead a research course. The research course was “How does theology influence missionary work.” I studied there for six months and during that time the professors there encouraged me to study the Book of Romans, which was based on a paper I had already written. This resulted in my book “Paul as Apostle to the Gentiles.” After this I began to teach, became a Research Fellow. But I was not fully satisfied being a fulltime lecturer. Then in 1997 the Lord opened a door for me to plant a Church in North London, not for Koreans, but for British people. I served that Church for six and a half years until I rejoined the Doulos in 2004 having had children and Helen’s health having improved, we were now ready to rejoin the Doulos. Also, now the Church is a wonderful support base for both our children and us whilst we are away.”

RG. May I ask, what is your main role on the Doulos?

“As Doulos’ Managing Director I am to hold things together, but as you know, the work on the ship is a collective structure, for the ship’s name says it all “Doulos” means “Servant” and we are all servants of the Lord and we work together as a team and we are all equals aboard. Thus, I serve the Lord and the community as their director.

A director is various things:

1… Senior Pastor: In a way I am the senior pastor of an International Church, for we have people from some 50 countries from various kinds of Protestant denominations and I coordinate and set the spiritual and social tone of this community.

2… Management: As this is a huge operation and that includes financially as well. The second part is management, for it is like being a CEO of a company, for we have eleven different departments and we use several million Euros every year to operate this ship. But I have to say that the Lord is the true director of this ship, for we go to Him in prayer and thus we are the human element and a special community on this ship, but separately, we are just us, but together in unity under His covering, we are made special for he is our true Director and he guides us in the right direction!

3… Ambassador: My third role is being an ambassador to State, Government, City officials as well as Christian leaders when we visit various ports. I have great pleasure of being able to entertain them and tell them exactly what we do and of course we pray to our Heavenly Father that we may get some additional assistance and help from them, and honestly, governments worldwide and here in Australia, as they have done in New Zealand and all the ports we have visited during our World voyage have been exceedingly wonderful, especially port authorities and so many companies and other sponsors who have given us so much. And they all know how grateful we are, blessed be His Name!

When we were in a non-Christian country, but there was a large Christian population, one of the leaders of the country spoke to me and he said that if all these Christians came together and had a big festival and advertised it, they would not get such media attention and attract such a massive crowd as the Doulos does. The truth is, this ship is old and the people onboard are mostly young and we are very well received by almost every country, regardless of the religion or political ideology of that country. The Doulos has now sailed to 144 countries and some 580 different ports, and thus I am to be Doulos’ ambassador when we arrive in every port.”

RG. May I ask you Daniel, could you provide me a story that would best be described as a “highlight” of your service to date whilst you have served on the Doulos?

Please Note: I have decided to remove some details, including names of ports and counties, although I have not been asked to do so. But as OM Ships continue to sail, I have found it to be diplomatic to do so! Reuben Goossens.

Obviously there are so many incredible stories I could tell you, but one comes to my mind immediately. When we were in a certain port the permission to enter a nearby country was suddenly cancelled three days before our scheduled departure. Now we knew that we could not stay any longer in this port, and worse still we had no other place to go. But the Lord was in charge of the situation already and He prepared the way, although it was unknown to us at that time!

Helen and I wanted decided to leave the ship and spend several days away in prayer and fasting in relation to this situation. So we left the ship and went to a house that was made available to us and there we did our Bible studies, prayed and fasted and sought the Lord!

The next the day we went for a walk for about an hour and came to a place where we saw big house with a huge garden. Helen said, “It is so beautiful out here in the middle of this arid place,” for it was a dessert like region, and here was this fine garden, so big, lush and beautiful. The next day, we went for another walk and again passed the same garden, but this time we saw a lady working in the garden and Helen spoke up and said, loud enough for her to hear, “Your garden looks so nice” and then the lady turned her head and we realised that she certainly was not a gardener, but someone from the house and most likely part of the family. The lady walked towards us and asked if we would like to have a look which we did and she even took us into her beautiful mansion. I introduced ourselves and said that I was from the Doulos, although I did not say that I was the ships Managing Director. In reply she said, “Our country did a very bad thing to you.” She told us a story (deleted). She then gave us a name and a phone number of a special high-ranking staff member in the Queens office. The next day when we returned to the ship we contacted her and she accepted our invitation to come to the ship as our guest, and she stayed for several hours enjoying herself greatly. Before she left she said, “If there is anything I can do, please tell me.” I decided not to say anything as yet until, the next day; the Line-up team in the other port officially said an absolute NO. Thus, I decided to phone this lady, but I was told that she was about to depart for Switzerland; at the same time I discovered that she was part of the Royal household. But in the meantime I needed at least three hours extra time due to the time difference between where we were and the time I could reach her in Switzerland, for our visas were running out, our berth permit was coming to an end, Lord we need you NOW! I was given an urgent contact number and I spoke with a Sheik and I asked him if we could have a special three-hour extension and I was told bluntly no. But I told him who I have been speaking with and why I needed the extra three hours for she was now in Switzerland, and immediately he said that I had an extra 24 hours. As soon as it was possible, I phoned Switzerland and asked for the Visa assistance. She graciously phoned me back an hour later providing me with the details required, which allowed us to remain in port for another week which became a very special time for the Doulos, receiving so many additional visitors, and myself meeting so many important people including an Ambassador who assisted us with a special multiple entry visa to Thailand free of charge.

Doulos Director Dr. Daniel Chae PhD a wonderful man of God and I spent a tremendous time with him

Sailing along the coast of Australia – Seen here having just arrived in Sydney

Photo taken by a volunteer © Reuben Goossens

Later we went back to the lady in the garden, who happens to be from what turned out to be the richest family in the country. We went to give her two of our very finest garden books, and as we arrived there she was in the garden. When she was us she said that it is a miracle that she was in the garden again, for she never works in the garden, but as one of her gardeners had fallen sick for the second time in a week she decided to come out and water some plants and it has only happened on the two occasions when we happened to come by. I call that the Lord preparing the way, for he knows all things, he knew that we would decide to go and pray, go for a walk and pass that house and that Helen would fall in love with that garden, that a gardener would be sick on that day and the lady be there, that this lady would be there and so gracious and that she would have the right contact!

But, Reuben it amazes me, even the first time we met, she was so gracious, as she not only showed us her beautiful garden but also the inside of her magnificent house, such wonderful hospitality! Now, to do that to two Asian strangers you have never met and me just dressed just in a pair of shorts, out for a quick walk during a time away from the ship for a special time of prayer and fasting. I give God all the glory, that He prepares the path and even brings special ladies into a garden at the right time and in the right place, “for all things work together for good!”

RG. Some people might say that the Doulos is a Hit and Run Ministry, what do you say about that?

They may be quite right, we are hit and run, but with a big difference. Let me hive you an example. We were in India 1988 and whilst in port I was on a land based ministry and we started a small Church in a village. There we worked for five days and nights. During this time twenty precious lives came to the Lord and were saved. One was baptised, but not the rest for they were in fear of the opposition that was still around amongst the villagers. The question came that they wanted weekly meetings and we said well you must according to the Word be baptised. The Lord did some amazing things and we saw some blessed healings amongst these poor people. Of course we had to leave, but I made contact again in 2004 and discovered that all was going well. In short, in 2006, eighteen years later I returned to that same village and the Church had grown greatly, from a very small beginning in 1988, the Doulos hit and run ministry started something that had created a fine Church, which in due course started another 32 new Churches within a 300 Kim radius. Praise be to the Lord, the Pastors of all these Churches came to the Doulos and we met in the Main Lounge for a special thanksgiving meeting. At the conclusion we gave them books to take home, both in English and in local languages for further encouragement. Reuben, if the Doulos is a hit and run ministry and it is a fruitful one, then let there be many more Doulos’!

Amen brother!

Captain Ashley McDonald - Australia

 Captain Ashley McDonald on the Bridge

An OM Publicity photograph

In this Interview, I will show the first question I posed, but will allow the Captain to speak and I will add a few comments in between his interesting statements.

RG. Ashley, tell me how did a true blue Australian Royal Navy man become the captain of the oldest motor passenger ships still sailing the globe?

“I was serving in the royal Australian navy and I was already thinking of leaving. Alison, my wife, had been on the Doulos years earlier whilst the ship had been in Adelaide and she said that she would like to serve onboard one day. Then one day when someone came to our Church in Western Australia and spoke about the wonderful ministry of this ship sailing around the world my ears pricked up and Alison said yes I know about this ship. I felt that I had a call and applied and I joined the Doulos in 2000 as the ships second officer. During the world voyage the Doulos has hit some really bad weather and the Captain recalls one particular even rather well, especially when the engines of the Doulos stopped in the middle of a Category 5 typhoon and the Captain began to worry. We started to drift side-on to 10m waves and really started rolling heavily. Glass doors were shattering from the compression of the decks. Everyone just stopped what they were doing and we prayed together. After about an hour we were able to make repairs to the engines and get going again and when I next plotted the position of the typhoon, which had been following us for two days, it was heading away from us.”

Captain McDonald believes their deliverance from the typhoon down to the power of prayer. One of the almost 400 committed Christians on board the ship, he joined her with his family to help with its missionary and humanitarian work. As the Doulos is operated by the German charity organisation “Gute Bucher fur Alle - Good Books for All” and “OM – Operation Mobilization,” she is like a floating bookstore crewed by volunteers, currently 24 of them are Australian. The Doulos throughout her career has sailed the world's oceans donating books to Third World nations and helping with aid projects on shore.

Captain Ashley McDonald in his office and cabin after our conversation on 20 August 2008

Photograph © 2008 Reuben Goossens

A former officer with the Royal Australian Navy who served on patrol boats and destroyer escorts, Captain McDonald joined Doulos eight years ago (2000) with his wife and their then only child. Two more children and countless ports later, the McDonalds will leave the ship in December 2008 in Perth and are ready to begin a “normal” life ashore. “But the kids love it,” says McDonald. “They miss not being able to play a lot of sport and run about, although we find places to do that ashore, but they love the community life on board. It’s like having 400 brothers and sisters from every country in the world and they've also made friends in the countries we have visited. It's a bit like being on a navy ship,” he says. “It's full of young people, they're highly motivated, they're not here for the money and everyone is a volunteer.”

“However, I came on board as the navigating officer but was eventually made captain. I saw it as a way of using the professional skills and knowledge I picked up in the navy to serve God and do humanitarian work. That's the same for everyone else on board. It's inter-denominational, in other words we have every brand of religion here. On the ship, no one knows what religion anyone is. It's not important to us, so you don't get any sense of division.” The Doulos turns over half its staff each year, with new volunteers arriving in two intakes. “We're taking on about 70 new recruits from all over the world who have been to a training conference in Geelong. They'll be on board for two years. Our crew are aged from 18 to 67. The youngest on board is six months old as we have families here who come with their children. We have 15 families on board in total, thus we have a large kindergarten.”

The McDonalds family have sailed to Africa, Asia, the Pacific, the Mediterranean and Black Sea, visiting between 40 to 50 countries during their time on the ship and along the way helped with water supply projects in Mozambique, tsunami relief in Sri Lanka and building projects in Cambodia and Papua New Guinea.

Nigeria stands out for me," Captain McDonald said. “We were only there for 10 days but many people can't get books there, for there are simply no bookshops and when the ship came in there were long queues for people to get on board. One lady said she had queued for five hours and she had tears in her eyes at the thought that her children were actually going to get to read real books.”

There are no official chaplains or pastors on board the Doulos. The religious ethos is a given because, “If you came here with any other sort of motivation or commitment, I think you'd find it tough.” Said Captain McDonald.

“We're not commercial. We're not about making money. It's not what we do. We want to create a positive experience for people who come to this ship and let them know about the life of God and get supporters to join us. Almost without fail, people who visit, and we have thousands through the ship when we visit a port, get a sense of something very special happening here.”

Captain Ashley McDonald greets the author to the opening

Photograph Ships photographer – © Copyright 2008 Doulos photographer

Captain McDonald said that it's not a free ride for the volunteers on board, who in their own way pay for their board and lodging while on the ship.

“They usually raise sponsorships from their Churches, organisations or companies, family and friends. Those who heed the call to join the Doulos usually remain for their full term.”

“However when the Doulos arrives in Western Australia on October 10, 2008 it is time for us to leave the ship, It will be strange having the same view out the window every morning (says Captain McDonald from his private quarters on the Doulos located just below the Bridge. I have some ideas about what I want to do, but right now I am so focused on what we're doing right here and now that I haven't really thought about home a great deal, it is just that we are talking about so many things right now.”

Smooth sailing Captain!

Chief Engineer - Mr. Dominic Bothello - India

Here we the ships engineer Dominic, who became my dearest friend on board as well as his dear family!

Before I met Dominic in his office I had already spent some time with both him and his beautiful South Korean wife Jung Youngsung and their children in their spacious accommodations, which just happened to be right across from my cabin door. Families onboard has extensive facilities which may have three or even four interconnected cabins with at least two bathrooms as well as other special facilities. As I have already indicated in the previous chapters, there is a school onboard as well as an excellent playground and child minding and baby sitting facility, etc, but usually families dine in the Dinning Room mostly have their own designated table with their own condiments set up, including their favourite Asian ones, etc. I certainly came to love this remarkable family, and this special man whose knowledge of the ships machinery was so vast, for he knew just what made the ship tick!

Before commencing the actual interview with Dominic we had a long chat about the ship and her many features. This or that could have happened, but it did not, “Why?” he asked, and continued; “Reuben, I tell you, it is because we always pray before going to work. We never start work without having prayed and asking the Lord for guidance and a helping hand! And brother, He is always with us. The ship is 94 now, and her engines are 38 years young, and as you can hear, it is running so beautiful!” And indeed the fiat diesel engines ran so quietly and as I stated before her exhaust was as clean as could be!

RG. Dominic, I know that you know this ship like the back of your hands, thus how long have you been on board her, but first how did you first hear about the Doulos or OM/GBA? (OM = Operation Mobilisation or GBA = Good Books for All).

“I had never heard anything about OM (Operation Mobilization) and their ships, but in 1981 their first ship the Logos came to Bombay (Mumbai) India. Even though I knew nothing about it, but as a Christian God spoke to me and I was drawn to that ship. So I went to the ship and visited it and I told one of the leaders there that I wanted to work on the ship. He told me, ‘Son, if God wants you on this ship He will make a way.’ Although it did not happen straightaway, it did happen eventually, but there were things to be done first. God provided the way and the means, although it was so very difficult, I became an engineer, for me it was like Moses crossing the Wilderness, it was the most difficult thing ever, but it was I believe now what God wanted me to do. When I finally had my engineer’s degree, I went to England in 1992 as well as many other countries, helping Churches and people in need. Then in 1996 I finally received the call and I joined the Logos 2, I served on her whenever they need me, but then I joined the Doulos and I have now served on the Doulos for eight years.”

RG. How long have you been onboard this time?

“Just on two years.”

RG. Now tell me, when you started working on the Logos 2 and the Doulos  you were a single man, and I know that you are a very happily married man  with four wonderful children. When did all that start?

“I was still on the Logos 2 in 1998 and I prayed to the Lord, for I began to realise that I was working so hard, I had little time to look for a wife. But, God has His plans and soon I met my beautiful Jung Youngsung and got married and we now have four children. Although I have a house in India, we live in South Korea and call that home when we are not on the ship.”

RG. Obviously you will have gone through many experiences since first joining the Logos 2 in 1996, but is there one moment, one event that stands out above all others that you would like to tell me about?

“My biggest highlight was to see people healed and an almost lame man walk in Mozambique three and a half years ago, after giving a message in a big Church and at the conclusion I gave the call knowing that the Lord would touch the lives in need, whoever needs prayer to come and receive prayer and the healing power of the Lord Jesus. The Lord never fails, but the very last person to come was a man who could hardy walk as he was on crutches and required help, his legs were like sticks. Thank you Lord, after prayer he was able to stand without those crutches and he threw them away and was able to walk freely praising His Holy Name!”

“Another highlight was more recently in Auckland when the fuel pump broke and we were able to fix it without any problems. However, had it happened prior to our arrival when the weather had been rough and the fuel would have been hot and spayed at 120 degrees, things could have gone very wrong but no, we were in port and were able to fix it without any harm being done! Again, I see the Lord’s hand in this.”

I continued to chat with Dominic for a while and it is obvious that he is a man of amazing faith and determination. Whilst I am writing this, he is in South Korea for a few weeks vacations with Jung and the children and it is well deserved! Mr Alon Alva who will be interviewed below will be in charge whilst Dominic is away.

Mrs. Jung Bothello and baby – South Korea

Long serving ex Chief Engineer - Mr. Elon Alva - Australia

RG. How long ago did you join OM and the ship?

“I joined in 1985, but I first walked onboard the Logos in 1971 as a 14 year old Indian boy and even as a youth I can trace my beginnings to that day, for having been around the ship and certainly been touched I prayed to God if I could work on this ship. I prayed with great sincerity, and I can remember even standing on a particular deck praying that prayer. But as I left the ship, in due course I forgot about it, but obviously God did not. It is a long story how I got into marine engineering, for it was not my first choice, for I was not even thinking about it, for going to sea on commercial ships was not my kind of life, especially being a Christian, so what I did was I tried to study as much as possible and I went to London for a couple of years. Then someone from OM came to the Church every now and then and occasionally spoke to me personally about joining, but I said no for I was going back to India, but he said that there may be something for me in India. However, I did end up joining the Logos in 1978 as Chief Engineer and as history proves she ran aground ten years later in 1988.”

RG. Elon what happened on that fateful night?

It is a long story, but in short. We left the southern port of Argentina, Ushuaia and we were sailing through the Beagle Channel and very close to Cape Horn, which as you know is right down what is called “the end of the world.” Anyway there was a storm brewing and the pilot was supposed to take us right through the Channel decided to leave the Logos 10 miles earlier to avoid the rough waters. Thus, in order to let him off, we had to stop the ship, and by doing so, with the winds and tidal influences and the nearby rocks the ship was blown off course. Thus, with the Logos having drifted much more than anticipated, even though the pilot had shown a safe route, he had not calculated the drift due to having had to stop the ship to let him off, but we tried everything, however, it was too late and we stuck rocks at 11.56 pm and she remain aground in spite of all efforts over the next few hours to free her. Sadly, soon after four AM, water broke through the hull and we abandoned ship and note, we were now in Chilean waters. For interest I was the last to leave the ship and I had taken down the Singaporean flag and handed it over to the Chilean Navy. Many miracles took place that night and thereafter. I worked with the Chilean navy for weeks after and I heard it over and over, how amazed they were how calm the crew of the Logos were when they left the ship during the night and that they all did so in total peace and without any fear. It became a ministry all of its own! One of these Navy men works with OM today. After The Logos incident I spent six months in Brazil after which I became involved with Logos II and her renovations and sailing her on her maiden voyage to Amsterdam. I was onboard her from 1988 to 1997 and I then met my wife Joy, and we now have two children, Paul and Jessica. Paul was born in Brazil and Jessica in Australia. I left and went to Australia and I am now an Australian citizen. I again received a call and joined OM missions, but not ships as my daughter had certain food intolerances. However, I was recalled in January 2006 and left in January 2008.

RG. What was your most interesting and memorable experience to date?

Obviously there have been many, many experiences, but for me the greatest motivation is the contact I have with people in the way I believe God has allowed me to see other people grow, which is something I have enjoyed so much and that excites me the most, the growth in others, it is also a challenge for me as it has forced me grow also in the Lord and as a person!

Chief Steward - Glen Leaver - Australia

 

RG. Glen when did you first get involved?

“It was in August 1997 when I was onboard for seven weeks in the galley, but then I signed up again for another two years in 1998 for two years after which there was a four year break and my wife and I came back again in 2004 and have been around until today. So I have been involved with OM for seven and a half years.”

RG. But what got your interest to go to sea?

“It was an elder in my Church he had known many people who had been on the Doulos before and I had come toward the end of my apprenticeship as a chef and I was wondering what I should do with my life, and what would be next, and from my questioning came the interest came about the Doulos. The more I learned the more I realised it was right.”

RG. What did your wife think about you joining the ship?

“We came to the Doulos as singles. She came in 1996 joining in Hong Kong and I came the following year. She was a teacher onboard and I was in the kitchen. We met and we were married after we left the ship. Although, it is rare for people to meet up onboard to get married, we are one of the few couples who have! I continued as chef until November 2006 when I was offered the position of Chief Steward the job I still have to this day, a position that keeps me very busy and often it dies mean your life is not your own, that includes after hours, there is always something that is needed or required.”

RG. What was you most interesting and memorable experience to date?

“Interesting, could describe many things! My experiences onboard is more with the ship, thus my ministry is not so much with the public but make sure things function. But one thing that does stand out was when we were in the Gulf, at Muscat Amman were we were giving out some flyers to some locals about the ship being in town, and there was this Arab family having this BBQ or picnic and we gave them a leaflet and they invited us to sit down. For me this was strange, but one of the other guys with us was a German and he remembered from the orientation that being invited was an honour and to refuse would be an insult, so we sat down and talked and they gave us some nice food and tea, etc. It really stuck me, for here we were receiving what I considered to be the ancient style of Biblical hospitality from people we had never met. I learned later that Arab cultures are one of the last cultures to show this kind of hospitality. We show hospitality to our families and friends, but for strangers who you may have only just met and talked to and ask you to join them for a meal was a real challenge to me and showed me how we should live as believers in the Lord that we should do this even more so! South Africa is a land of such diversity and extremes, there is either great wealth or those who have hardly anything, and we went to an overnight settlement, although they just call them settlement, and as we arrive the first thing I see as we drove in that some were cooking up some sheep heads in big pots over a fire, and I thought no, I could not possibly have to eat any of that, no never, but fortunately it turned out that was for the dogs. What a blessing! What I had forgotten for a moment was that the ship had sent out food with us anyway, but sometimes the people make food to honour those who came and you must no dishonour them and not eat it. But the memory I take from that place is, that the believers who live in places like that in ministry, living in really horrendous conditions, no electricity, no running water, but their humility and their love for God is just overflowing and although they many not have their houses and cars and holidays, they are totally content living in their surroundings and with these people as they share their love of the Lord, and that touched me so greatly. They asked me ones, “What do you think when you see us in this situation,” I said, “Well I am humbled.” Thus seeing the realities of the world and the work that is being done in the Lord, that also makes my work on the Doulos so special and at the same time it is an important ministry.”

E-Team Coordinator - Joy de Pano - Philippines

Joy De Pano is a delightful and a most happy 34yo single lady who has a position on the Doulos that carries a great responsibility. However, she does all this with a joyful smile! I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Joy as we chatted in the VIP lounge as it was one of the quiet spots on the ship as it can be rather noisy in the ships offices. However, I feel that Joy’ story proves that OM certainly uses individuals that are very talented, and when it came to Joy she started working on the ship in the Galley and realising her great potential she now holds a vital and an important position on the ship!

RG. Joy how did this venture sailing on a Christian ship start for you?

“It all started at my home Fellowship and my Mission Pastor had been on the Doulos as a Missions Coordinator and he suggested the Doulos. But I was not really interested for I do not know how to swim and do not feel that comfortable with so many foreigners as where I live we do not speak English and on the Doulos everyone must speak English, so I was not at all interested. Also, I did not want to leave my country, for that is what you do if you joined the ship. But my Pastor said, just go and check it, and when I did check it and looked at all the requirements and noted that there was also a lot of support available and that there was a real challenge available. I knew my God and I had a heart for missions so by coming to the ship it was God’s calling and He did open the doors widely and I joined in September 1999. It is strange, for the Doulos had been many time before, but I have never been to see her before, others had gone, but I had no interest whatsoever, and now here I was onboard and suddenly, I was working on her! For the first 19 months I worked in the Pantry, but the leaders observe all workers and eventually I was asked to run the Short Term Program, which is for people who come for two months to experience the Doulos. After that I went home, but I was asked to come back for another two years to continue the Short Term Program. When my four years was finished I thought my time on the Doulos was over, but to my surprise they invited me back to run the Intensive Discipleship Course Programme onboard. This is the discipleship training offers those onboard the Doulos special two months sessions. I ran those for one year and then there was a need for an evangelism theme department and I have been running this department since May 2005 until the present.”

RG. What do your responsibilities entail?

“I am responsible for all ministries that happen ashore; including the daily teams that go to prisons, hospitals, orphanages and some street work. In addition we have Church teams and sport ministry, practical and helping people, thus sending teams where there is a need.”

RG. That is a huge task!

“Yes, but on this ship that is what we do, we bring Knowledge Help and Hope!”

Line Up Manager - Seelan Govender – South Africa

RGSeelan everyone seems to have a different story to tell on how they became involved with OM and their shipboard ministries, thus how did you get involved and started, and more so what was your motivation?

“In July 1995 I was living at the time at the Baptist Bible College at Maputo in Mozambique. You see, my Church had sent me as had a heart for missions. The Doulos had sent an advance team as she was about to come to Maputo in several weeks and they were staying in the same dormitory where I was. Until then I had never heard of a ship carrying in ministry. I was fascinated with these young people coming together with a common purpose and that really excited me. And as I watched these young people pray together, read the Bible each day and the way they ministered and the how they related to one another was what really drew me to them and thus also to their  ship which I had not yet seen. Then I had the first opportunity to come onboard and they gave me a short tour and I had a meal and I met a lot of people, and I had a deep sense that God was at work in my life. It was an experience that was a very tangible experience that God was working in my life. And I said “Lord, can I be a part of all this, even a small please.” That is how I was exposed to OM and the Doulos. I wrote to OM and waited for four years and in January 1999 I joined the Doulos in Fremantle for Two Years, but ended up staying for four and a half years. I did Line-Up for much of the time, going ahead to ports and arranging the ships arrival, which can be hard work. There you stay in homes with families, which is nice for you meet many nice people!”

RG. How did your find it at first, considering your own African background and the multitude of nationalities and backgrounds onboard. Did you find you had to learn patience?

“A laugh: Defiantly! To say that I came prepared, certainly not! The first cabin mate I had was a very outgoing Brazilian and everything he said and did, he did in a very loud and a passionate way, and I did not understand it for I am very quiet and an introvert by nature. It was a tough few months to adjust for my first few months onboard. But, the lesson I learnt is patience and loving one another, even amongst the differences that we may have.”

I went home South Africa and got married in March 2004 and we rejoined as a couple in 2005, and we now have a child and she is seven months and is currently the ships youngest crew member.

I am the Line Up Manager and I oversee the advance line up teams that go into the ports. They go ahead for up to three four or even five months in advance and plan for the ships arrival. Their main goal is to shape the ministry, including connecting with Churches and organisations etc.”

RG. What has been your highlight whilst on the Doulos?

“For me it was that I took the Line Up for the Doulos to (blank), for everyone has this concept of (blank) and the levels of corruption there, and I remember there were just the two of us in the Line Up and we had said from the beginning that we would never give a bribe to anyone, no matter what that may mean for us, for we were determined that was not the way God would us to work. We spent a lot of time in prayer and we had to go to immigration for we had not yet obtained the visas for all onboard required. Thus Peter and I went to the Head office of Immigration and saw a very stern faced lady and spent five minutes with her. She asked “What do you want”, Peter explained and I took out the book and said this is the Doulos, and she said “OK goodbye, five minutes that’s enough.” Peter and I looked at each other could not make out what to think of it all. But we got news that we got the Visa. But the local chief decided that he could make a dollar out of it, and when we went he said that the Visas would cost $14,000, because I am doing this and how much are you going to give me? I said excuse me? If you want your Visa you have to pay me. I said, “As a principle love the Lord Jesus I am a believer in the Lord Jesus and this is not the way I live my life, so I am making the decision, because I am the team leader, we would pay a $14,000 fee, but we will never pay a bribe to you.” And I said that and he said and you will not get your visas. When we got back to our accommodations I said O Lord was I too ambitious, have I made a mistake? After much prayer, we received the news from the advisor of the department that we got the visas. And the visa chief came onboard and had a wonderful time.

The other things that is so special, when I heard about the ship it was all so different from expectations. You would think about a modern ship with the finest facilities, instead we have a very old ship that once nobody wanted and was going to the breakers, and here it is 94 years old and still going and over 21 million people have come onboard her have been so blessed, by the spirit that is onboard her, but the ship itself has that extra something about her that seems to touch and bring people, and I am glad that I am part of it!”

Head Teacher - Cindy Litchfield - USA

 

RG. Cindy, it is so nice to see someone a just little more senior onboard, how did you come to join the Doulos and venture so far away from home?

“About three years ago my husband passed away having been ill for some time with cancer. After that I spent a year adjusting to a new life having to be single again, and I asked God what I needed to do with my life. Soon after I received an email from a missionary who we had supported before and he said that he was a chef on a ship and he said that they needed more teachers. God really spoke to my heart and called me to be a teacher on this ship, but I said no I can’t, for I am too old, I have my family and what would they think? Well, I had all the excuses you could think off! Yet the Lord God challenged me and gave me Bible verses showing me that I was not too old, that I was in the middle of my life and years and that He would provide His work. I felt led to sell my house as it was really too big and I did not want to ask for support, but again the Lord showed me that I should ask for support, he said do you not want people to pray for you, of course I did, and as they did, they would ask, and how can we help, and thus, the support came and God provided in His loving mercies! I asked my friend and she said just apply, if you are accepted then you will know it is God’s plan and if rejected the same applies. But I was accepted. I then sold my house to my pastor who had tried to sell his house for three years was unable for some reason. The reason he wanted to sell was he wanted to move closer to the Church. My house was close to the Church and he placed his house back on the market and it sold within the week. Thus, all these things were like ongoing confirmations from the Lord and He provided all the funds and everything I needed. I was still worried about sea sickness, but again I trusted the Lord and He has sustained me throughout, including having undergone training, some of it very difficult, but He gave me the strength and the courage to do it and I passed it and here I am teaching the children.”

RG. How long are you onboard?

“I signed on for two years and I have just come to the end of my first year. Will I return for another session, I do not know as yet I will what the Lord wants, but I am enjoying it very much!”

RG. How many children do you have on an average?

“It does vary, but we have had forty children onboard at one time, but we have ten at the fun-deck/baby centre, six at the lower primary, three at the upper primary and I have five, making a total of fourteen at the moment. As the ship is English speaking, the school onboard was set up in English, but they also offered school in several native languages twice a week as required.”

RG. What has been your most interesting experience whilst on the Doulos?

“Probably going countries that I would never have wanted to go to and going there I have just loved it, the people there have been so warm and wonderful. I so much enjoyed my time in Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Vanuatu, places we would not even think of as a tourist destination, we know so little about them in the States.”

RG. Being somewhat senior, how do you find the young people onboard?

“I am amazed about the faith that they have, for when I was their age, I do not think, I was that strong in the Lord. So many of them see to have so much knowledge and have such a hunger for the Word and that is certainly very much more that it was at Church in my younger days. It is the grouping of the many nationalities, all who are believers that makes this ship so special and that makes me feel so joyful to be onboard the Doulos and to be part of the experience!”

Electrician - Gary Barto - USA

 

I have placed Gary’s thoughts at the end of the page as it covers his experiences from Sydney to departure from Fremantle and well on the way to East Timor in 2008. Thus it covers his experiences during Doulos’ final voyage to Australia as an OM International ship. I am sure that you will enjoy his candid way of expressing himself!

Reuben Goossens.

Gary’s thoughts below were originally written in his weekly “Updates.” Gary has been the ships electrician for the last 7 years and he has had many interesting experiences. Below you will a collection of his experiences and thoughts of his time onboard and in Australia.

Sydney.

“We arrived in Sydney on Thursday morning. When I went to devotions in the morning we could see the giant cliffs that are part of the entrance to the Sydney harbor. I got a couple of pictures and then went on to devotions. I am afraid not too many people were at devotions as many played hooky, watching the spectacular scenery as we approached our destination. Right after the devotions, a pilot boat pulled alongside the Doulos and we received our sea pilot for the rest of our way to the berth.

A little way up the river towards our berth we saw the famous Sydney Opera House and then the Harbor Bridge just beyond. I got several good pictures of the Sydney skyline as we arrived. Many visitors came on board when we arrived so there was much confusion for a few minutes. All settled down quickly and I got the gangway telephone and power line installed without too much delay. We are enjoying the beautiful city skyline. As we carry our own bicycles, they are made of good use whilst in port. Many are already running around Sydney with Doulos people riding them.

The Doulos was not always the Doulos. It was named SS Medina until after world war two. The second name on the Doulos in its long history was the Roma. Two ships had this name and both brought immigrants to Australia during the 50’s. Last week we had an onboard reunion for these people. It was a very moving experience for those who attended and exchanged many stories in several languages. Most had tears in their eyes upon seeing the old vessel. It was a very moving experience for them as well as our crew. I was on the screening detail as people came onboard and got to watch as they saw the ship after all these years. In the month and a half it took them to get to the new land with 1900 people onboard, there were only saltwater showers and few toilets. They did have plenty of food though. They were glad to arrive but had to spend some time in a refugee camp before being admitted into Australia.

Geelong.

“After two days of being shook up in this old ship with some rough seas, some of which I spent on by backside with my toes and nose pointing towards the ceiling, we pulled into Geelong to a brass band playing. I thought the ship was coming in too fast but our excellent captain knew exactly what he was doing and we came in right at the right spot at the right time and the lines were thrown to the line crew on the quayside and we were tied up.

We were located at a private wharf with a quaint restaurant looking like an old lighthouse on the end of it. There was plenty of parking for our visitors. There are footpaths (sidewalks) along the waterfront, just waiting for me to get on my bicycle and explore them. Geelong is a city of around 200,000. Pray the people here will come to see us and be touched by what we, OM and the Doulos stands for! Our last port (Sydney) was sadly not very well attended.

After being gone from the ship for four days I felt like a total stranger. While I was away we received 71 new people as part of our staff and crew. They came on the ship Sunday afternoon while I was on the church team in Melbourne an hour and a quarter from Geelong. Suddenly I have a bunch of new faces and names to put together. I have been saying good-bye to many in the last month before the new people arrived.

An Australian bird, a Magpie, decided that my ear was going to be lunch. While I was riding a bicycle, one of them “swooped” over me from behind and took a piece out of my ear. I even had a helmet on. Apparently it had a nest nearby and thought I was a threat. It only nicked me, but from the blood that leaked down my neck I thought I must have an ear missing. Someone told me the bicyclist around here put plastic cable ties all over their helmets so they look like a porcupine and then the birds leave them alone.

Back on the ship, I gave and engine room tour to an elderly gentleman that used to be a ship’s engineer. He loved the tour but he dropped the borrowed earmuffs, for ear protection, into a bilge with oil and water in it. I had to retrieve the muffs. I do not know which had more oil on it, the muffs or me. Anyway he really did enjoy the tour. I hope I am not the next one to wear the muffs.

At Sea.

“Somewhere in the ocean south of Australia whilst on our way to Albany, the seas were anything but mild. I am sure the new pre-shippers wanted the voyage to be over as soon as possible. I took some pictures of some very green faces. I am sure many are wondering why did they ever sign on for two years of this rocking and rolling in rough seas. Not too many showed up at breakfast. I have seen smoother seas but I have also seen worse. We might as well start these new people in with a little rocking and rolling.

I sat down to breakfast. None of the usual people I eat breakfast with showed up at our usual table. Yes, it is possible to feel lonely with three hundred plus people all around you. While I was sitting there feeling sorry for myself, the captain came and joined me. A few minutes later our director also joined me. Now what better companions for a meal than the two top people on our ship? We even had a few minutes to pray for each other.”

Albany.

“In Albany our sewage waste had to be trucked away at a tremendous expense. Because the treatment we do to our sewage is not recognized by the local Western Australian government. The sewage is costing allot more than our water. The view from the electric shop was seeing the big waste truck right outside our window. On the bright side, the waste company is getting rich.

Fremantle.

“In Fremantle the problem is not solved and the toilets cannot be used. We are to use the toilets on the quayside. A new problem is, that we have to carry our onshore IDs and enter the public queue every time we come back on the ship three minutes later. We also have to go to our information desk and leave and pickup our name badge. I am afraid my sense of humor was slipping just a little.   

Fremantle will be the port we will say good-bye to all the many friends we have made in the last three months. It is also a port where we say good-bye to friends we have met on the ship before from Australia.     

Today I am working on our deck where the outdoor “International Coffee Shop is located. I am looking forward to sharing with the many people that will come through the café. It is wonderful to be able to share many blessings with these people as they visit the old lady of the sea.

We have been having many school kids coming onboard this week. During school hours the decks have been full of children on tours. Many kids were wearing their Australian hats and blue uniforms. Even the teachers have Australian hats on as well. Maybe I should try to buy one of these hats before we leave the country. I hope the kids went away with more than a memory of an old ship and remember what we told them about what the Doulos stand for!

At Sea.

“Tuesday we left Australia for East Timor and its capital Dili. This is a very poor nation. “Timor-Leste.” Impoverished East Timor, which gained independence in 2002 after more than two decades of Indonesian occupation, and it is 98% Catholic and has the world’s highest fertility rate, with the average woman giving birth to eight children, according to the United Nations.

Ever since we got to Australia we have been collecting items for the people of East Timor. We have stuff packed everywhere on this ship. I cannot even get to my electrical parts because of items stacked in our electrical storeroom. We certainly pray that the Lord will use us mightily in East Timor and provide - “Knowledge, Help and Hope.”

As a ship’s electrician I do not want to hear that generator one will not go on line and we need it before we get underway in a few hours. I was not the hero but we did get it going in time. My boss Ralf was able to fix it.

On the way out of Fremantle, it was almost like God said, “I was able to use you Douloids in this port.” Upon leaving the port a large dolphin escorted us out of the harbor.” You Douloids were amazing in Fremantle.” Praise the Lord!

Ka-bang!!! woke me up as I almost rolled out of bed. My closet door flew open and items on my desk came flying at me and then onto the floor of my cabin. During the night the ship took a 17-degree roll at least once and a couple of pretty good rolls after that. We sure had a mess in the Galley and several other places as we went to work in the morning. Now, maybe people will believe the captain when he says, “tie things down for sea.”

And that is my story as we head for Dili and onto Singapore.

Thank you a great MV Doulos team & all the Douloids

There are some very special people I wish to thank the following on board the Doulos. The ship’s Director, Dr. Daniel Chae who was always so helpful and he has a great desire to see the ship survive! We had I fine time together discussing the ship and the Scriptures during my time on board! However, how can I ever forget my delightful host and now good friend on board, Sven Benseler and his lovely wife Mirjam and their delightful children, Joshua & Samuel. They made my stay on board very special and I soon became part of the Doulos family! Also, there was the delightful ship’s journalist Marl Terilli, who took great care of me whilst I was on board and thank you for the delightful times we had chatting during mealtime with your husband at supper time. Not to forget, two very special people, Dominic Bothello the Chief Engineer who always made me smile and I always want more time with this wonderful man and his delightful family! And the ever effervescent Filipe the Project Coordinator, who was a delightful young man with a heart desire to learn more and more and to take in all that, is good! May the LORD bless you and thank you for all that you have given me! I also wish to thank Captain Ashley McDonald who was most generous with his time, allowing me on the Bridge as we departed Brisbane and giving me an interview in his private quarters.

Doulos Post 2010:

I recall discussing the future of the Doulos with both Dr. Daniel Chae and Captain Ashley McDonald regarding my vision for her after 2010. This vision has now come to a realisation and the ship was sold on March 18, 2010 to Mr. Eric Saw & Family in Singapore who are Directors of “BizNaz Resources International Pte Ltd.”

She will be renamed “Doulos Phos = Servant Light.” She was sent to the ASL Shipyard’s in Batam where she has been undergoing a lengthy retrofit to become a luxury Hotel with various Restaurants and Cafés as well as having a Maritime Museum and Bible School facilities. The only sad factor for genuine ship lovers will be that she will be “dry-berthed” at Bintan Island, Indonesia.

The author (left) and some of the “Doulos Tour Guides” after my talk on August 19, 2008

To all the crew and volunteers onboard, thank you for your outstanding hospitality, cooperation and the many wonderful interviews, for I am sure that they will be so much appreciated by those who will read them! Also thank you for giving me the freedom of the ship whilst I was with you aboard the historic MV Doulos, a ship I have been personally associated with since 1971 and again when the Doulos arrived in Sydney on July 4, 1999.

 Go to Part Eight - Doulos in Sydney – Aug/Sept 2008 - Including the official opening & 94th Birthday

 

Return to the Author’s – MV Doulos “A Ship Like No Other” Main Index

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