“He was shaking as he came on board, overwhelmed by the presence of God,” recounted community member, Ray Trainor (U.K.). “Max really believed the Riverboat had come to visit because of him.”
When Ray first saw young Max along the quayside, smoking beside an old sailboat where he works, he instinctively approached him. As they chatted, Max opened up and shared about his near-death motorcycle accident. Once a Christian, Max was jaded by the faith after several difficult experiences and failed suicide attempts. Nevertheless, he was interested to check out this Riverboat that Ray talked about.
As Max stepped onboard, he recognised that familiar feeling and atmosphere – one where God was in it. He was invited to lunch but could hardly eat, overwhelmed by the Riverboat community. “He was looking around in surprise the whole time,” shared Ray. “He dropped his food and spilt his drink – just overcome by the spirit!”
Max visited multiple times while the ship was docked in Dordrecht, Netherlands; he couldn’t get enough of the presence of God he felt. He attended Sunday Service, helped out on a practical ministry day at a local organisation, Bonfire, and even participated in a prayer and evangelistic walk with other community members. Ray and his wife, Gill, managed to put him in contact with a friend they knew from Logos II, a former ocean-sailing ship under OM.
“This was the right time for the Riverboat to come, this was the right timing for you to talk to me,” Max told Ray. “I’m convinced that God, Jesus Christ, was the one protecting me all these times.” Max has since contacted his former fellowship group to restore his relationship with God.
'Yearning for fellowship'
Another community member who prepared for the Riverboat’s arrival in Arnhem, Netherlands, Marjolein Doornebal (Netherlands), befriended a local Turkish lady, Volga, who was yearning for fellowship with Christians in the Netherlands. A believer from Istanbul, Volga had moved to the Netherlands alone without her husband in search of work. “She was feeling very alone, and needed support from other Christians,” said Marjolein, who chatted with Volga for two hours in the Riverboat café and listened to her needs. “She didn’t know what to do and had to contact OM Istanbul for help.” OM Istanbul then placed her in touch with the Riverboat. Marjolein is currently contacting a local Christian organisation, appropriate to Volga’s needs, to follow up with her.
Apart from befriending and encouraging local believers, the Riverboat and her community also serve as a source of new energy for former OM-ers when they visit. Feeling the excitement of community members and witnessing the ministry in their own country, their passion for missions is rekindled, too. “Talking to the people onshore was my favourite part of The Agency experience,” said Jelle, an ex-Logos Hope crewmember. “It reminded me of what I love to do; I have missed this so much.”
“The Riverboat is a breath of fresh air for these former OM-ers to remind them of why they are here,” said Riverboat Director, Peter Nicoll (South Africa). “I pray that this rekindling will turn into action and fruitfulness in their lives.”