By Gabe Holton
Who We Are
If you are reading this post, you may already have an idea of what kind of ministry Anchor House is, but if not, we hope that this may serve as a helpful introduction to our mission. We are a missions organization at SeaPort Manatee, Palmetto Florida, dedicated to serving the needs of the community at the port, whether that be international seafarers or the local workers. Our ministry can be practically broken down into two categories: (1) serving international seafarers and (2) running our on-site center. Understanding these two aspects will help further understand how we conceptually serve the needs of the SeaPort Manatee community.
The first of these duties is serving the international seafarers who dock at our port. Seafarers are still officially considered an "unreached people group" because of their isolated status at sea. Mental health problems are rampant among seafarers and many are at sea for months on end, and sometimes with limited or no time outside and off the ship. If you are interested in more information about the specific problems seafarers face click here. To help serve the seafarer's needs, Anchor House visits every international ship that will allow us access who docks at SeaPort Manatee. Our visit may start with a simple introduction to who we are and the services we provide, but our hope is to build ongoing relationships with the crews who consistently come to Port Manatee. Some of our services include transportation to shopping areas, providing routers for internet access onboard the ship, ordering packages through Amazon, and sometimes we simply commune with the sailors onboard, hoping to further the spiritual relationships that we foster through our physical service.
Our on-site center is located nearby the berths of the port, and is within walking distance from any of the ships. Along with the international seafarer community, we serve the local workers who make the port run effectively. We serve lunch every weekday from our kitchen and also have a store that is consistently stocked with drinks and snacks for the workers to get at any point during the day. We also do a devotion during the lunch hour once a week, sharing the gospel to those who otherwise might not hear it. We have a main area for anyone to hang out, play pool, watch TV, or just relax for a few minutes. We also open our center at night for seafarers who are wanting to access our free wifi or a meal off of the ship. We provide the center as a space for rest and relationship as we serve the needs of any who come by.
My name is Gabe Holton and I am the intern at Anchor House through NAMMA (North American Maritime Ministry Association), and it is my second year in this position. I am also a Junior at Wheaton College studying Biblical and Theological studies. I am passionate about Anchor House as a mission, and hope to share some of my own experiences working in this unique position. NAMMA gives funding for interns to "foster greater professional development across the spectrum of seafarers’ welfare provision." To accomplish this task, my duties at Anchor House consist of ship visitation, helping run our seafarer center, social media management, and assisting in other ministerial matters. I will also be giving weekly updates through this blog to topics that we find to be integral to who we are at Anchor House.
I want to break down, more specifically, what we hope to accomplish through this blog. Every week we will explore a topic related to Anchor House and have a brief devotional relating to this topic. God's word is present and powerful, and we hope to show God's work through our mission in how he is speaking and ministering to us as a mission and individuals. There will be multiple writers sharing their heart and devotional at different points, and we hope these posts will minister to you in the same way they do to us.
5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.
9 Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (NRSV).
Living in Humility
In essence, the mind of Christ is one of humility. In his life and ministry Jesus embodies what it looks like to lead through serving others and counting others more important than oneself. His greatest act of service then is his willing death on the cross of a criminal in accordance with the will of the Father. Christ dies this death on the cross in obedience to the Father’s will because of his divine identity–that is what divinity looks like. The phrase "though he was in the form of God", can also be translated "because he was in the form of God" (Phil 2:6). Jesus Christ did not just die despite his divine identity but also because of it. God purposefully chooses to send his son to die because it definitively reveals his nature in a way that could never be imagined. In his ultimate act of service, God's power is not compromised. He reorients our view of how a king should use his power and act in relation to his people. Through this picture of Jesus, God is not a detached monarch. Instead, the true King God is characterized by suffering alongside his subjects, bearing their burdens by taking them upon himself.
Christ dies this death on the cross in obedience to the Father’s will because of his divine identity–that is what divinity looks like.
How are we to faithfully respond to this text? In light of who our God is and what Paul is telling us, I contend the answer is simple–have humility in our relationships and interactions with one another. We serve a God whose own heart is to serve the meek and lowly. He used his power, not for exploitation, but as an invitation to empty himself out for the sake of others. If we are to have the same mind among ourselves, we must attend to the same call. What power do you have to give up for the sake of others? Is there a person, group, or ministry you can empty yourself out for? Do it willingly and fully as Jesus did with the people he interacted with, as this is the mind of God.
"So that every knee shall bend..."
At Anchor House, our overarching desire is for all to recognize the love and power of Jesus Christ. We are committed to a gospel-centered message of hope, both in this life and life to come. In this, we do our best to fulfill the embodiment of the gospel. We hope, through our mission, to serve others well so that they may recognize the love of God in us, and come to know the God in which that love flows from. As Christians we are to recognize the resurrection of Christ as our ultimate hope, and to worship the God that has power over the death that would otherwise consume us.