Renier Marx, from South Africa, first heard about Mercy Ships back in the late 1990s, after first applying to serve on an Operation Mobilization ship.
“It really drew my heart to ships. We applied as a family, but they didn’t have space for us all, so they referred us to Mercy Ships.”
Mercy Ships remained in the back of their minds for the next decade, and they even filled out an application. But the timing wasn’t quite right. Instead, the family waited, knowing a big change was coming in their lives.
In 2011, Renier received an email in his inbox from Mercy Ships saying, “We need you.” It was time. Renier, his wife Evilin, and their three kids came aboard the Africa Mercy.
As for what’s kept him onboard all these years? Renier says, “Once you drink the water for more than two weeks, you’re stuck here!” Applying his passions to meaningful work was a big part of the equation – but most importantly, was the fact that he could serve alongside his family. Evilin, an outpatient nurse, and his children, students in the Academy, all had their own place to thrive.
The Academy is the accredited school onboard, open to students from kindergarten through 12th grade. Renier says the school “is better than we could ever pray for. There’s not enough money in the world that could pay for an experience as unique as this for the kids. They’ll carry their experience with them for the rest of their lives.”
In particular, his children loved exploring their interests and sampling different jobs onboard. Renier’s eldest daughter, Michelle, ultimately chose her career path as a radiology technician in South Africa after spending time shadowing the radiology department onboard.
“It’s not like a normal 9 to 5 job, where you go to work and don’t see your family for the day, then you come back home and you’re in family mode. Onboard, you can be here with your family and everyone’s working toward the same goal. It really drives us. We’ve all got the same common goal.”
After years of serving onboard the Africa Mercy, it was time for a new challenge onboard a new ship. Along with his family, Renier spent the past five years living in a hotel in China so he could help guide the build of the Global Mercy® as project engineer.
“I was involved in the technical, the IT, and some of the hospital build. The ship looks a lot better now than it did while under construction,” he laughs.
Now, as Chief Electrician onboard the Global Mercy, Renier Marx jokes that his job is very simple – it’s all about keeping the lights on. In reality, Renier’s known as a bit of a one-stop-shop onboard our hospital ships. He’s “the guy you ask when you need something,” as another crewmember describes. If you have a problem you need fixed in a pinch, Renier is your man.
For a long time, the Marxes were the only family onboard the Global Mercy. They added a little special sauce to the mix of personalities onboard: “Families add color to the ship. Children’s laughter brings a different light to any environment!”
Families aren’t the only ones that bring color to life onboard. Renier says the diversity onboard a Mercy Ship makes it truly unique. He calls it a rainbow community. “We’re so diverse, and everyone comes with their unique skills and experiences. We all bring a little color to the ship.”
Whether you’re a family like the Marxes or considering volunteering as a single, the community has room for everyone to grow and give.
“You can add your own color to the ship. Your talents and skills can really make a difference… volunteering is totally life changing. Seeing the transformation of people who have been suffering really brings so much joy, knowing that at the end of the day, you can be a part of something so big.”
Want to be a part of bringing life-changing hope and healing? No matter what skills you bring, there is a place for you. If you’re ready to Make Your Mark, visit https://www.mercyships.org/makeyourmark1/