When Melisa Balliu (Eastern Europe) finished high school, she realised that going to university would be complicated because her family could not pay for her tuition. Not wanting to go back to old friendships which had been a bad influence, she wanted to work in a more godly context.
A member of her church suggested she work in a Christian environment. “That’s what I was praying for!” Melisa answered her friend. The woman had been a volunteer on Doulos, and suggested that Melisa apply to volunteer on Logos Hope. “I couldn’t afford university, so I couldn’t afford two years on the ship. My friend laughed and told me, ‘Money is nothing to God; if He wants you to go, He will provide for you.’ It filled my heart with a lot of hope,” Melisa recalls.
While she was waiting for answers, God was speaking to her through dreams. She could see herself in an airport, where people were worshipping God in foreign languages. When she applied, Melisa had just six weeks to raise the support she needed for a stint on the ship. While her parents, who are from another faith background, accepted her decision to apply, they could not help financially and were sceptical Melisa would find the funds.
“I prayed for them a lot,” Melisa says. Her friend, who works with OM in their country, helped her raise the necessary financial support; which came in in under a month. “Now I’m here. It was my first time flying, first time leaving my country, first time out of the continent…”
“I have grown a lot,” she reflects. “Now, I can share the gospel with my family freely. I did once with my dad. I told him the simple words of the gospel and said, ‘You know that this is what I am doing, thank you for supporting me with your love so that I can share hope. Can I share this hope with you?’”
When her father agreed, Melisa told him that Jesus died for him on the cross and that faith in Him will save people from sin. After this conversation with his daughter, Melisa’s father went to a pastor; asking to know more about the Christian faith. He prayed to ask Jesus for salvation and when the pastor e-mailed Melisa to let her know, she could hardly believe the news.
Reflecting on her time on the ship and her beginnings in the catering department, Melisa says, “I remember the love, humility, perseverance and patience; all these fruits of the Spirit. At the beginning, I thought that people around me were all faking it; that it wasn’t real, that they were pretending. But when I realised people were like this 24/7, I thought, ‘This must be real.’ I have seen God’s love here and it is so pure.”
“Now I can live out my identity outside the ship; not only here!” Melisa says. “And I have turned into a vibrant follower of Jesus.” Using the image of the bird from Noah’s ark that returned with an olive branch, Melisa believes she can do the same thing when she returns home, with the message of truth she wants to spread.