The life of a marine engineer is not easy - especially for a woman trying to make her way in a male-dominated industry - but, for Christine Chongwo (Kenya), this is the life to which God has called her.
Following her first year of classes, Christine hoped to work on a Christian ship for her nine months of training as a cadet but was told it would be impossible to find one. Through a chance encounter, she was referred to a lecturer at her college who had served as the first engineer on Logos Hope, and it was in response to his recommendation that she joined the ship in February 2016.
Christine has been deeply impacted by the power of words in her new working environment. “People in my office are not friendly. You have to prepare for the worst,” she said, of her workplace back in Kenya. On Logos Hope, the contrast in how people treat her has come as a surprise: “On the ship it is not a goal, but people just end up being gentle with each other. The fear of leaders doesn’t exist here. Everyone is approachable!”
This change in atmosphere has given the 28-year-old room to grow into the person God is shaping her to be, starting with her perception of women. “I think I’ve grown up having a very mean view of people, especially women,” shared Christine. “In the ship's community, I have really come to appreciate the ladies; they are just awesome. I never pictured sharing my heart with an 18-year-old or a 20-year-old; just being there for each other. You don’t find such a group of people anywhere else in the world!”
This transformed view of women is now seeping into her ministry to others. During the ship’s dry dock in Durban, Christine and several other crewmembers made a priority of going out in the evenings to walk the streets and talk to women in prostitution. She recalls one woman who seemed totally disinterested at first, but with time, began to engage with what Christine was sharing. Before long, the woman started crying and opened up about her husband and children.
In Christine’s eyes, the opportunity to serve on board Logos Hope is more than just the next step in her training as a marine engineer. She sees it as her time to carry on an important missions legacy. “I remember seeing the many graves of missionaries who spent their lives in Kenya,” said Christine. “If they hadn’t come, if my country hadn’t been introduced to Christianity, I would probably have been forced into marriage. I may have become the seventh or eighth wife to a man who is 80 years old. I’d have had to go through female circumcision, and I wouldn’t have been able to have an education.” Christine has such gratitude for the missionaries who brought progress and hope to her land. “Now, I am able to serve God in my way, with my marine engineering skills!”