Late last year my wife and I entered the world of cruising for the first time. This experience felt like we had entered some sort of alternate reality where suddenly you could exchange your normal day life for one where you work on magic currency that opens up a whole new world of Broadway shows, ice rink shows, a la carte fine dining, adventure sport experiences and tropical islands.
And all of this is happening on a massive 17 storey boat that floats on the ocean while cruising the South Pacific. For my wife and I this certainly was something that was amazing but at the same time challenged us from day one. It led us to seek God and ask him to use us while on this trip.
As Christians we have values that run deep in to the world of those less fortunate. It certainly takes a little to get used to the luxury. The questions I remember asking myself were "why, God do you have us here? What, God are you going to show us?"
In the midst of all the luxury, bells and whistles what really stood out to me were the incredible staff that would be serving in many departments of the boat and actually how Christ like they were in their service. The main areas as a cruiser you would connect with were the housekeepers, the food attendants, poolside attendants and the entertainment crew.
There were over 2000 crew and they were from various parts of the world, most being from less fortunate and poorer nations of the world. Their lives would be lived out on these boats serving guests 7 months a year all to make a better life for their families, their kids and spouses which they would only see in between those 7 month stints. I remember on so many occasions wondering if I could leave my family for that long?
While these guys were paid to look after us waiting on us hand and foot my wife and I were moved on more than one occasion to take the time to get to know some of the people behind the service.
I remember one of the days I really felt moved to get to know my housekeeper. These guys would make over your rooms 3 times a day and always would leave something to brighten up your day on the cruise. I had never seen some many animals made from towels in my life before. Every day we would come back to bears, dogs, snow men and even a stingray just as a special touch for the guests.
Our housekeeper was from Indonesia and his name was Dani. Every time you passed him he would greet you by your name with a smile and an inner joy that really was contagious and made your stay just that little bit more special.
One particular day I took the time just to hang out with Dani and just listen to him and ask him about his life and his family. I was not sure if this is a regular thing from the normal guest, but he then proceeded to tell me about life in Bali and in particular the most special people in his life - his wife and two kids.
As we conversed my heart was moved to financially give to Dani and his family. I felt compassion for him and knew by the way he spoke of his family that he did miss them and that being here really was a sacrifice. So this small gift would be just a little bit of extra help for him and his family.
In this conversation it was quite amazing what I learnt about him, his faith as a Hindu and his family. And I even had the opportunity to share about Jesus and that I would pray for him and his family. I remember walking away thinking I have made a friend and that his service ran so much deeper than what he was paid to do. So while he felt blessed by my gift I was so blessed by him opening up and inviting me into his life.
This story about Dani was only one of many stories that had a similar theme of being away from family and loved ones. This was the price that these servants had to pay for their families to be looked after back home. You would never find out the truth behind these people unless you do look past the fact that they are there to serve you and the luxury cruise is all about you.
Sometimes being a Christian is just being willing to see a different perspective on things and always keeping in the forefront of your mind that God calls us to love thy neighbour no matter where you may be and what opportunities you have.
For my wife and I some of our favourite memories of that 8 day cruise on the South Pacific was taking these opportunities just to shine a little of God's love.
Justin Monaghan is currently launching as a professional prophetic artist under the label JR Faith Creations. He is married to Liana and lives at the beautiful beach of Port Willunga. Justin is also heavily involved in his local surfing community of South Australia as a surf coach, a judge of surf contests and a member of Christian Surfers
Check out JR Faith Creations to see some of his art at www.jrfaithcreations.com
Justin Monaghan's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/justin-monaghan.html