Lloyd Nicholas recalled one bad day he had in August 2003 when he visited a ship named NorrÃ¶na, which was berthed in Denmark. Having already inspected 30 other ships, Lloyd viewed the vessel as just one of many possible choices as the next ship for OM's Ship Ministry.
After examining the vessel with another marine engineer, Lloyd thought it was not the right ship and continued looking for another ship. However, the design of NorrÃ¶na was the closest to what OM had been dreaming of. Incidentally, the NorrÃ¶na plans kept coming up during project meetings for several months. This led Lloyd to wonder whether it was actually the right ship. Perhaps the project team had not been sensitive enough to the Lord and overlooked something? It was time to reconsider the vessel.
However, news arrived shortly after this revelation that the ship had been sold. At that moment, Lloyd was discouraged by the thought that his team might have missed the right ship due to 'human failure' of not relying on God in decision making. But all too late, it was time to move on.
The ship's project team prayed daily: "Lord, lead us to the right ship at the right time. We really want Your ship, not ours." On Christmas Eve, the owner of the ship called and advised that the ship was once again on the market because the previous buyer failed to make the down-payment by the due date. Could this ship be the answer to these prayers? Lloyd was thrilled by this news and shortly OM expressed its interest in purchasing the ship.
A technical team was assembled to sail on board the ship for a more thorough inspection before purchasing. Several days before sending the team out, the ship owner called to advise that the ship was once again sold. "How can this be? You know we are interested in this vessel and planning to come to inspect the vessel in the next few days!" Lloyd exclaimed. "Well, you know it is on the market. We are not reserving it for anybody. An Egyptian company just signed the contract to buy the vessel. First come, first serve." replied the ship owner.
It was another bad day. Despite this setback, the team still went ahead with the plan to inspect the ship so that they could at least learn something and better prepare for the future. When the team sat down on the ship for a lunch break, Lloyd remembered the passage from Exodus he read from his morning devotion.
"Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you. You need only to be still." (Exodus 14:13-14)
Would it be just a coincidence? Perhaps. But Lloyd could not escape from the fact that it was God's Word for him that day. He then took courage and shared with the team: "I know this ship has been sold but I believe that God will give it us. I don't know how or when, but I just believe." Lloyd remembered how hard it was for him to say such things given the circumstances, knowing that he could end up looking like a fool.
On a train from Denmark to Germany the next day, Lloyd was informed by his colleague that the ship may be for sale again. He immediately called the company to verify it. The response was hopeful: "Yes, it's true. We have given this Egyptian company until 6PM today to make their down-payment. If the payment doesn't come through by 6PM, the ship will be on the market once again."
After much prayer, OM called the company at 6:01pm to confirm that the ship was available again. "But there are two other parties also wanting to buy the ship. If you want to buy the ship, you need to sign a memorandum of agreement right now and make the down-payment." It was Friday evening and there was another dilemma.
Four weeks before the ship inspection, the team had already decided to set aside a day to seek the Lord right after the inspection, realising they cannot go forward by their own wisdom. That day was the following Monday. Trying to think how best to explain this decision to a secular shipping company, they responded "We do intend to buy the ship, but we cannot sign right now. We need some time to talk with our leaders."
The shipping company responded "Well, we are having a board meeting on Saturday, we want you to join us in our meeting." The OM team joined the conference call and informed that it would match the highest bid of other potential buyers (3.6 million Euros). The chairman of the board urged them to sign the agreement. "Why can't you sign it today if you really want to buy it? If you don't purchase it right now, I will offer it to others."
With some awkwardness, the team finally explained the reason: "As a ministry, we had already decided some weeks ago to have the day of prayer and fasting, seeking the Lord on the coming Monday. We believe that we need to honour this day before we go ahead with the purchase of the ship. Only after we are confident that God has given His endorsement, will we sign the agreement." Suddenly, there was silence on the phone. Then the chairman said "Hold on, we will talk among ourselves and get back to you." After a few minutes, he came back and said "OK, we will give you until Monday 6pm." The OMers were thrilled!
Apparently, the chairman was so surprised by that statement that board members said for the first time they had seen him being so compassionate. God moved him that very moment to convince the other board members to wait until Monday. "We waited over a year already to sell the ship. Waiting another two days is not a problem. If they spend the day seeking God and come back to us to buy the ship, that's a good thing, isn't it?"
This story marked the beginning of the ministry of the ship named Logos Hope. Since then over 2.5 million people have been welcomed on board as the vessel sails around the world to bring knowledge, help and hope. Personally, it has been a great privilege to be on board the ship God has prepared for His work.
When bad days come your way, what would you do? Is seeking the Lord your top priority? It may take a marathon of faith with a few surprises along the way, but we can be confident that we are on the 'right' track. Now, let's run the race!
Daniel Jang from Newcastle, New South Wales is serving with (Operation Mobilisation) OM's ship - Logos Hope. For more information, visit www.gbaships.org
Daniel Jang's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/daniel-jang.html