The morning rays stretch over the coolness of the beach as two small fishing boats pull up to shore. Tumbling onto the sand are doctors, nurses and volunteers who arrived the evening before with the medical ship anchored just off the reef. Lori Schierer gives hugs while the Fijian children scamper excitedly around their visitors. Barefoot parents in sarongs and hand-me-down T-shirts wave hello, standing outside their shanty huts. Schierer is part of a missionary team from Marine Reach that sails to remote islands offering medical assistance and messages of hope.
Schierer, a 25-year-old Canadian-born missionary, has led nearly seven years of service with Marine Reach—an arm of Youth With a Mission that uses medical ships to facilitate practical care to isolated islanders in the Pacific. She currently lives aboard one of the ships, based out of New Zealand, with her new husband, the ship’s captain. They are living out a novel and extraordinary marriage as they carry the Marine Reach message of “our hands, God’s heart.”
They frequently embark on these outreaches along with the ship’s crew, and volunteers such as dentists, ophthalmologists, optometrists, nurses, pastors and missions teams. Schierer has had her hands in everything, from leading youth teams and working as the ship’s purser, to assisting in the clinics and managing cooking for the entire group of crew and volunteers. While contributing to the operations of the medical ministry, she’s watched God’s love touch thousands of lives. “I have a great fear of failure, of not being successful at my ministry, at what I do,” she says. “But if all I have to do is concentrate on being faithful to what God asks me to do, it takes the pressure off to succeed. It gives me a different focus. And if I concentrate on being faithful, then I think success will follow.”
Over her years on the islands, Schierer’s contact with the villagers has given her a taste of a simpler life: hand-washed clothing, fruit falling from trees, large communal meals, an open-air school, a slow-paced day spent with neighbors. “I marvel at the diversity and beauty found in different cultures and people groups,” she says. “It’s taught me flexibility, and that sometimes relationship is more important than getting the job done.”
Sharing an unconventional home with many others creates some frustrating moments, but in these sacrifices Schierer has learned to make the most of opportunities. Every time the ship drops anchor in these translucent “backyards,” exciting interactions await. As boats ferry locals from the shore to the boat for eye surgeries, Schierer says, “it’s taught me about loving people and making the most of every opportunity God puts in front of me to affect someone’s life. And not just waiting for the opportunities to walk up to me, but to also go out and look for them.”