Port YWAM Holds Third Navigation School
Alyssa Radke had dreamt of being a sailor since she was 11 years old. The idea didn’t seem realistic to her, but it wouldn’t go away. She came to believe sailing was a God-given desire that would somehow come to pass. And she believed that it would be connected to missionary work.
“Every time I would pray about being a part of some kind of ship ministry, I just felt like God was gonna show me at some point and I felt like I should wait for him to show me,” said Radke, 23, of California.
She was able to see her aspiration unfold when she became a student at the first School of Navigation and Seamanship, or SONS, at Port YWAM Kona, Hawaii, in 2013. As the third annual SONS approaches in October, Radke said it’s a great program for tactile learners.
“Sometimes we would have classes on the boat and I remember being on there thinking ‘This is the perfect school for me,’ because I don’t do well sitting in classrooms for hours,” Radke said.
Students in SONS will become familiar with the vocabulary of sailing, learn how to chart a course using GPS and traditional methods, SCUBA diving as well as CPR to be prepared in case of emergencies that take place during a sail. Radke — who will serve as kitchen staff aboard the m/v PACIFIC LINK this fall for its Papua New Guinea outreaches — said she also valued the missionary focus of the school.
“That’s what I wanted more than anything — to be part of a school that would take time to pray and to remember why we were even taking this class in the first place, to reach people in places that you can only get to by boat,” she said.
The SONS includes a three month lecture phase and an optional outreach. The length of the outreach will be flexible to accommodate as many students as possible. Among the possible outreach opportunities are aboard the m/v PACIFIC LINK in Papua New Guinea or sailing with YWAM Ships partners in Micronesia. In the past, SONS students have participated in nine-month outreaches. Zachary Smith, who also was a student at the inaugural school and will be staffing his second SONS this fall, said its sailing outreaches have made a significant impact in the Marshall Islands.
“We can bring teachers, doctors, all that kind of help onto the islands where ordinarily they wouldn’t have it and they would just tough it out or lose loved ones because a cut on their foot got infected because of a fly that landed on it,” he said.
Capt. Ann Ford, who will lead the school for the second time, said outreach teams can provide much-needed encouragement for long-term ministry workers in isolated places. She cited a story from an outreach in Kiribati.
“There was a story from one of our outreach teams in Tarawa. We prayed and really felt led to go to one of these islands. One of the pastors there was ready to quit, he was ready to pack it up and go home and they gave him so much encouragement that he stayed and got fired up and back on the job. It made a big difference for him.”
Click here for more information about the School of Navigation and Seamanship.