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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Hum (06/06/13)

TITLE: Two Hums - One Hope
By Noel Mitaxa


After a week at sea as guest chaplain for a trans-Atlantic cruise, I’d had another very fulfilling day with a well-attended morning worship time and conversations aplenty.

There was a hum of spiritual momentum which affirmed my prayer support, for I kept crossing paths with people with issues to discuss, even though they could easily have been lost among the rest of the two thousand on board.

With the crew catering for their every need, people relaxed as we talked over mealtimes, in coffee shops, in music lounges, beside the pool or on coach tours while we were in port. Some would share personal, family or church concerns, or their hopes and dreams about new possibilities back home.

Other folks hit me with big questions that stretched my own faith and insights, but God’s touch ensured that we could explore them with honesty and respect, so our next conversations were positive. For beneath all this interaction, I was on call if any crises hit with no familiar supports within reach.

It was almost midnight as I made my way back to my cabin, the plush carpet cushioning my steps along the timber-panelled hallway. Glancing towards the room where our worship had been held, I noticed about twenty south-east Asian crew members seated in a circle. Some familiar faces turned my way, gesturing animatedly for me to join them.

As I opened the door, a whole circle of smiles immediately affirmed the welcome, for everyone had a bible on his lap, and guitars reclined at different angles against some knees.

That they were still up was a surprise for, unlike me, they would all be awake and on duty before the sun rose.

Familiarity rapidly faded, for though this was bible study, it was all in Indonesian. Silently but desperately searching through my south-east Asian vocabulary, I unearthed two greetings: Mabuhay and Selamat detan; firstly in Malaysian and secondly in Tagalog, which is the native tongue for Filipinos.

Neither one would build any communication, so I sat and listened, quietly praying for some bridge to emerge.

Their commitment was obvious, but I was unable to participate. As I listened, it crossed my mind how often we invite unchurched people into our church scene, using a “Christianese” language that does not resonate with where they are or where they are from. And how much worse is it if their slowness to get a handle on our terminology or our culture is taken as sinful rebellion against God?

Familiar chords sounded, with guitars now raised, and they began to sing. But though I used to sing in a gospel choir—more through finding safety in numbers than in unleashing any great talent on the world—I could only hum through their more unfamiliar songs of praise.

After their last song, their leader David asked me to share a word with them. He showed me their study on 2 Timothy 4: 6 – 8, in which Paul shares his confidence in gaining the crown of righteousness that the Lord will award to him and to all who have longed for his appearing.

Looking around, I saw men whose work contracts meant six to nine months’ absence from their loved ones: wives and children, fiancés or girlfriends. However they all knew exactly when they would see them again, and despite their anticipation they continued to serve passengers with constant, cheerful courtesy.

I sensed an opportunity to share with them the same anticipation of seeing Jesus Christ on his return, even though we don’t know when that day will come. In the meantime, each day may be anointed with the possibility of seeing him face to face; but if not, he will show us regular or spontaneous opportunities to share his grace with courtesy and compassion for anyone within our circles of influence.

We closed in prayer; my hum long gone.

But God’s hum kept right on, and our hope in him gained a deeper resonance.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Beth LaBuff 06/14/13
Excellent and fascinating writing of your recent ministry opportunity. You had me picturing the scene of the midnight Bible study in the Indonesian language. Wow! Their enthusiasm was transported to this reader through your writing.

One thing in your writing which I've always enjoyed is your comments directed toward yourself or abilities, and this totally made me smile, "more through finding safety in numbers than in unleashing any great talent on the world." There is a crown at stake, I'm longing for His appearing, too.
Ellen Carr 06/16/13
I really enjoyed reading this very well-written account of your chaplaincy at sea. How inspirational to come across the group of Indonesian crew worshipping late at night. I agree re the 'Christanese' that Christians fall into so easily. Wonderful that you were able to share an encouraging message with them despite the language issue. Thanks for sharing the story.
Ellen Carr 06/16/13
Whoops - spelling mistake in the above. Should say Christianese.
lynn gipson 06/17/13
This is lovely and well written. I enjoyed hearing about your chaplain trip to Rome. As usual, you have a wonderful way of relatng s personal experience about your faith. Thanks for sharing this part of your life. Blessings, Lynn
Genia Gilbert06/17/13
You have a wonderful gift for "getting it" when a situation gives you a reminder and lesson from God. Besides that, you have the ability to write it in a way that passes that on to others. Thanks, and God bless!
Danielle King 06/18/13
Having once been a victim of the 'Christianese' language barrier and made to feel like an intruder, I can appreciate where you're coming from. I love the words in your ending paragraph, 'each day may be anointed with the possibility of seeing him face to face.'

Altogether another humdinger of an article from the master!
Margaret Kearley 06/18/13
Wonderful to read this lovely insight into your cruise chaplaincy and some of the opportunities that arose. Thank you for sharing this lovely account of true fellowship that spans language barriers and unites hearts in anticipating of His coming again. Great to read, thankyou.
Linda Berg 06/20/13
Thanks for sharing this blessing you experienced as chaplain on your cruise. I appreciate you mentioning the Christianese language. It's so easy for us at times, to not realize it can be a foreign language to many of those who cross paths with us in life. Two Hums - One Hope sums up this memoir well.
Yvonne Blake 06/20/13
Great article, Noel
Congratulations on your EC!
Linda Goergen06/26/13
Oh Noel, I enjoyed this so much! I could just picture you going from place to place around the ship, “humming” like a busy bee, leaving and sharing the honey of God’s word here and there! And the midnight bible study...I can only imagine the sweetness of seeing those hardworking men gathered there, worshiping God, sacrificing much needed rest. I could picture it as that busy bee (you) stumbling upon a hidden garden, with foreign flowers, but whose nectar was so sweet, the bee was captivated! Just as I was captivated envisioning all this through your wonderfully written story! I see you were truly blessed on this cruise and I thank you for sharing it, for I feel blessed in having read your soul-stirring account!
PamFord Davis 08/09/13
Noel, I have never taken a cruise, do have a desire to take a Clipper Ship cruise and a River Boat cruise. I loved your personal story and way of directing me and other readers to the common language of Christ followers, love. The loving group, in study of God's word, included you. You included us...Thanks.

Wing His Words