Where Two or More Are Gathered

Christian Cruise

You’ve heard it before, of course: The Church isn’t a physical building, made of bricks and stained-glass windows and a steeple. The Church—with a capital C—is people. God’s people, gathered in His name.

Sometimes those people meet in a building. Sometimes the body of Christ worships together in a home, or a school gym, or even a coffee shop. And sometimes the Church comes together on a cruise ship sailing through the Alaskan fjords.

A couple of weeks ago, the Gospel Music Celebration Alaska cruise returned after an amazing week of music and ministry aboard Holland America’s ms Oosterdam. Charlie Spencer, our Cruise Conferences Director was quick to share with us the following story:

The Freedom Singers came along on the cruise as one of the invited musical guests. Comprised of brothers Simon and Steven Ivascu—along with Craig Smith—these men already have an amazing testimony of God’s provision. The Ivascu’s endured countless hardships as they fled their native Romania to avoid joining the army after high school, as required in their homeland. Knowing the military would constrict their freedom to worship as Christians, they refused to serve, risking imprisonment and persecution due to their strong moral and religious beliefs. The story of their pulse-pounding escape from Romania is told in their book, The Price of Freedom.

During the cruise, Steven, the group’s baritone, received devastating news. He learned that his house back in Canada had caught fire. His wife and kids were safe, but the house was left completely unlivable. Most of the family’s possessions were ruined. Imagine being in a beautiful location on a luxurious cruise ship…and learning that your house had been destroyed and your family uprooted.

Concerned about Steven and his family, we made an announcement and asked passengers to pray for the Ivascu’s as they dealt with the fallout from the fire. Our passengers responded immediately. In addition to their prayers, they began purchasing every Freedom Singers’ item in the bookstore, to keep the trio from having to ship any merchandise home after the trip. For the rest of the week, a constant stream of passengers approached Steven Ivascu, praying for him and offering encouraging words.

Then there were the monetary donations. We placed baskets outside our main concert venue, for those wishing to make a financial gift to Steven and his family. By the end of the week, enough money had been given—literally, thousands of dollars—to take care of the family for the next year until their house has been rebuilt. We were stunned at the amount. Steven was grateful beyond words.

God can do amazing things when His people gather in His name, whether it’s in a neighborhood church or on a ship along the Alaskan coastline. We began the cruise believing it would be a time when God’s people came together in worship, bound together by their love for Gospel Music. We ended it having seen God do so much more than inhabit the praises of His people. Through the believers on this cruise, he accomplished a miracle in the life of a man who has already seen God come through again and again.

The Christian love our passengers showed for Steven is something he’ll never forget—and neither will we.

The Church isn’t a building, or even a Christian cruise ship. The Church is any gathering of believers in the name of Christ. And we saw God use His Church to do an amazing thing on our Gospel Music Celebration cruise to Alaska. 

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