Guest / Limited Access /
Carys Parker, Raised Entirely Aboard Mercy Ships, Drops Anchor
Kirk Hirota

When Carys Parker told her friends she was going home to the Congo for Christmas, she realized she had left out a certain detail: She had never actually been to the Congo.

That's because for Parker, who just finished her first year of college at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington, home is never a specific country, let alone city. Rather, home is a 500-foot-long hospital ship that sails along the west coast of Africa, treating those with little or no medical care. Most college freshmen experience a period of transition, but Parker's has been extreme, even when compared to typical third-culture students.

"I feel like I have one foot on the ship and one foot here," she says. "I never really belonged anywhere except the ship, and I don't have one country or one culture I can claim as my own."

For the first 12 years of her life, Parker lived on the now-retired Anastasis; her teenage years were spent on the Africa Mercy. For 27 years, Parker's father, Gary, has been an oral and maxillofacial surgeon for Mercy Ships, the maritime ministry that spun off from Youth With a Mission in 2003. Her mother, Susan, is an executive assistant on the ship, while Parker (whose first name means "mercy") attended the ship's school, along with her brother, Wesley.

Parker, 19, is the first person to have been raised entirely on a Mercy Ships vessel, and one of three to have completed high school on the ship. In 2013, she graduated from a class of three.

"It felt like when my family drove away I wasn't just saying goodbye to them—I was saying goodbye to a very specific and unique way of life," she says. "Once they were gone, no one on this campus would ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this IssueAlec Hill: Inside My Slavery
Subscriber Access Only Alec Hill: Inside My Slavery
How Jesus' most troubling parable finally made sense to me.
RecommendedWhy It Took 5 Years to Give Away This Free Christian College Campus
Why It Took 5 Years to Give Away This Free Christian College Campus
Once intended for C. S. Lewis College, former property of D. L. Moody will now host evangelist’s museum and Catholic school.
TrendingAll 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing
All 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing
More than 3,000 employees in 36 states will be laid off in the liquidation of one of the world’s largest Christian retailers.
Editor's PickThe Benedict Option’s Vision for a Christian Village
The Benedict Option’s Vision for a Christian Village
How to conserve and strengthen the American church.
Christianity Today
Carys Parker, Raised Entirely Aboard Mercy Ships, Drops Anchor
hide thisJuly/August July/August

In the Magazine

July/August 2014

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.