“If I am an engineer for God, who am I to make a judgement about how important one assignment is compared to another?”
With this thought, despite having doubts because the ship’s public ministry had closed, Michiel Kramers (Netherlands) ended up on board Logos Hope in September 2020; to serve as a first engineer – only a short time after hearing there was a need for someone with his skills.
Michiel had not been raised in the Christian faith, but from playing the role of Saint Francis of Assisi in a school drama when he was eight, he had an inner awareness of God and some knowledge of the gospel as he grew up. “In church, I just saw people who didn't actually believe in Jesus,” he recalls.
During his final year of nautical college, Michiel told God he was willing to drop his career if God wanted that. But instead, he became aware of how he could use his professional skills for God’s kingdom.
“As an engineer for God, I have a tool I can use,” he says.
Since becoming a Jesus-follower seven years ago, Michiel began sharing the gospel on the commercial ships he worked on. He had heard about OM's Ship Ministry at various times but nothing motivated him to join. Instead, the engineer enrolled in a three-year programme at a Bible college in 2017. But in 2019, some changes in his life brought him into contact with OM again. His wife passed away after many years of struggling with health issues.
“I experienced that I had totally lost control of helping her. I wept more during those first few months than during the previous 20 years combined. “Yet [her passing] did not change who God is and what Jesus has done.”
A subsequent change of address took Michiel to live within walking distance of an international maritime fair that took place once every two years. At the fair, he met some OM representatives who had a booth there. The Seamen's Christian Friend Society he was involved with, as well as someone in his new church, encouraged him to look into mission service with OM.
“I declined the offer to come short-term in January 2020 when I had a three-week break [from Bible college]. I was busy with several things and, to my mind, the ship would be full of young rabbits running around!” Michiel felt he couldn't cope with the stress of international travel (Logos Hope was then in Trinidad and Tobago), a drastic adjustment to the ship's unique environment and having to immediately start giving people jobs to do within the short time he would be on board.
After graduating from Bible college in May 2020, he made enquiries about Logos Hope but was told there were now enough engineers. So he joined a commercial ship again and, as usual, began sharing the gospel with his shipmates. But this time he found people weren’t interested in hearing about Jesus. When he had four weeks of work at sea left, he learnt Logos Hope was again in desperate need of engineers and this time, he felt it was the assignment God was giving him next.
Michiel's criteria for knowing where God wants him to be isn't merely an acceptance by a mission organisation. Nor does he see joining the ship as a sense of duty, just because he had the skills. But he believes that this time, God was opening the door because, “The opportunity to join came when I was available. It never coincided before.”
The Dutchman says he has been pleasantly surprised by the ethics of work and community on board Logos Hope. “[Watchkeepers] are well trained and I didn't have to train new ones yet. I can also learn much from the chief engineer. The ship practises community life for real. At my Bible college, it was taught, but not implemented. Here, cabins are inspected for cleanliness, there is a social policy [regarding no romantic relationships for the first year to allow a focus on God] and there are mature people to seek counsel from.”
While his original plan was to volunteer short-term, Michiel has sensed God leading him to remain on the ship longer and has extended his commitment by more than a year.