The founder of Mercy Ships was inspired to take action by Mother Teresa.
The world’s largest civilian hospital ship has been completed and delivered to the global health charity Mercy Ships. Named Global Mercy, the floating hospital is equipped with six operating theaters, a full laboratory, and beds for up to 200 patients.
The completed vessel will more than double Mercy Ships’ impact. Aside from Global Mercy, the organization had one other ship in service, Africa Mercy. With 12 decks and space for a crew of 950, the new ship dwarfs the Africa Mercy, at almost twice the size. Mercy Ships estimates that Global Mercy will host more than 150,000 surgeries during its 50-year lifespan.
According to ICN, the ship was inaugurated on June 16, and has since passed its sea trials. The massive ship, which can be seen in the tour featured above, is now closer than ever to joining Mercy Ships’ mission. Mercy Ships founder Don Stephens hailed the new ship as “a dream come true.” He told ICN:
“African heads of states and ministers of health have often expressed a desire for more of their healthcare professionals to be trained in-country. This ship will do exactly that. Many who suffer from disability and disfigurement will have access to surgical treatment and whole-person care in healthcare systems that will enable them to reach their God-given potential. We hope that this new vessel and the volunteer crew who serve on her will bring hope, healing and transformation for the next 40-50 years.”
Mercy Ships is a charitable organization that deploys medical ships to areas of the world that lack access to safe surgery. It’s an organization with a Christian focus, but it serves patients of all faiths. The charity is most concerned with complicated procedures, such as surgeries, that are less available in developing nations.
In a 2013 interview with 60 Minutes, Stephens said of Mercy Ships’ Christian mission:
“Mercy Ships follows the 2,000-year-old model of Jesus. We’re not here to promote Christianity. We’re here to follow Jesus … It’s about following Jesus. When the situation was appropriate, He spoke in the people’s lives. Mainly, He loved people. He provided healing for people who were blind and lame. We’re here to do the same. For me, that’s what it means to follow Jesus.”
Don Stephens started the charity in 1978, with his wife, Deyon. When he was 19, Stephens was part of a youth group that got caught in a hurricane in the Bahamas. It was while taking shelter that he began to wonder why there was no ship that could bring medical aid.
This passing thought would turn into a vocation after he had the chance to meet Mother Teresa. She encouraged Stephens to pursue the vision God had placed in his heart, and soon he was looking for a ship. In 1978, they acquired their first vessel and Mercy Ships was born.
Over the last 40 years, Mercy Ships has visited 594 ports in 55 developing countries. They have performed more than 105,500 free surgical procedures and an additional 488,000 dental procedures. The estimated value of the surgeries they have performed is over $1.6 billion.
Alongside their charitable healthcare, Mercy Ships is also concerned with education. In their time, they have trained over 49,000 local professionals and another 252,000 in basic healthcare. Their ships aslo include educational resources for children.
The newly christened Global Mercy is still looking to fill out their crew with ship workers, medical staff, and teachers. Click here to learn how to get involved.