Making a difference

written by Ruth Taylor

Captain Dirk Colenbrander (Netherlands) was raised to understand the importance of knowing God and following His will. From a young age, Captain Dirk had the goal of working on an OM ship, but it was at 15 years old that he personally chose to become a Jesus follower. For the last 19 years, Captain Dirk has used his professional skills and his heart for those who are yet to hear the Good News to serve OM Ships.

“The main thing I wanted to do is help with my skills, so that the ship could sail wherever it needed to be. At the same time, wherever possible, I wanted to share the Good News with others. Before I joined, I thought maybe I would be more focused on the job, so that others can share the Good News. But thankfully, in my experience, you can do both!

Captain Dirk admits that being the master of a vessel includes a lot of administration. “In a day, the thing I do most is answer questions and put signatures down. But of course, you also have to plan ahead. So, you look at voyage plans, you prepare for next ports. At the same time, you're part of the leadership on board that is seeking to care for the community. That's more the spiritual and the leading aspect, so it’s not just the technical side.”            

However, the part he enjoys the most is when he can join in with his team. “Whenever I have the chance, I love to get my hands dirty, because then you're working together with the team. I love it when containers come or we set up the gangways, and I can be involved. Teamwork is what I love the most, so I love to help out and do it together.”

Captain Dirk feels he has grown through his service in OM’s Ship Ministry and would recommend it for anyone who is ready to learn and grow. “You learn so much from each other and the training programmes on board. I've grown a lot spiritually, but also in working with others and being more sensitive to different cultures. Whilst you come as you are, you definitely won't stay the same. Even though you’ve come to serve, you receive and learn so much too.”

Serving the people, both on shore and on board, is a highlight for Captain Dirk. “Whenever you arrive somewhere, you're really there for the people. We always check with local organisations and churches, ‘what are the needs here?’ You widen your perspective. The community on board is unique too. You won't find that anywhere else. But also, making a difference, it now just comes your way, and you can use your skills and talents.”

But that doesn’t mean that serving with the Ship Ministry is without its challenges. “You face many situations on board that are beyond your control, but you learn to trust God because He provides. So, you dare to take bigger steps as you grow and trust in Him. Your motivation needs to be right. If you just come for an adventure or to see the world, there are other ways. Maybe when you come on board, you don't get the job you hoped for or the cabin mate you wished for. But if you know why you're there with this purpose to serve God, then you will overcome these things.”

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