Flexible. Flexible airline flights. Flexible meal menus. Flexible plans for the evening. A key word in OM Ships is flexible!
A crewmember went from table to table during dinner one evening with an invitation. An English evangelist was speaking at a home fellowship in Reykjavik, an anointed fellow with an amazing testimony, did anyone want to go? Hmmm. Why not? So ten of us from the Logos II piled into cars with Icelandic drivers we did not know, headed to an address miles away that we did not know, to a home fellowship we had never heard of. After ten minutes of zooming down main streets, around corners and down secondary streets, our driver screeched to a stop in the middle of a block in downtown Reykjavik and announced — we had arrived at The Whorehouse!
Through a darkened doorway and up an unlighted staircase, he led us to a foyer where everyone shucked off their shoes, an Icelandic custom. Hearing a multitude of voices from the next room, we headed that direction.
This months-old Christian fellowship met in a large upstairs apartment, indeed previously occupied by a house of ill repute. Walls had been removed to create a large meeting room with space for a pulpit and guitarist, our worship leader. A hundred or more teenagers, twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings were already crammed into the space. The congregation was mostly former drug addicts and alcoholics whose lives had been transformed by the grace of God. We squeezed through the crowd to the few empty seats and watched as more chairs were unfolded around the edges. Latecomers sat in the windowsills or on the floor.
“Let’s all stand” was followed by lively praise songs, some in English and some in Icelandic, hand-clapping and hand-raising accompanying familiar tunes. A little later the evangelist sang his way up from the back of the room. Next he recounted stories about the goodness of God interspersed with accapella renditions of How Great Thou Art, It Is No Secret, The Old Rugged Cross and others. He encouraged us to sing along to Oh, How I Love Jesus. He never learned to read and write, he said, but memorized scripture passages and gospel songs emphasized the points of his sermon.
His personal testimony was not included that night but our driver told us some of it. A hopeless alcoholic dying of cancer, God had miraculous healed, delivered and saved him and ever since then he has traveled throughout Europe spreading the gospel. Driving a double-decker bus around Iceland this summer, he gives away the Gospel of Luke and speaks to any group who asks him. He invited young men in the crowd to join him when he does it again next summer.
He ended his message the way it began, singing his way back to his seat. The fellowship leader invited those who needed prayer to stay and dozens went forward. While others headed for coffee in the kitchen, we reclaimed our shoes, made our way down the dark staircase and out to the car. It was a remarkable glimpse of God at work in Iceland, a church meeting at The Whorehouse in the city of Reykjavik.