Last updated: July 7, 2023
Asbury Seminary hybrid student Pam Harrison takes global ministry to another level: sea level.
Pam and her husband Keith began cruising in the ‘90s with regular week-long cruises in the Caribbean.
On cruise ships, a sea day is when a ship does not dock at a port; therefore, cruisers spend the entire day on the ship. She and Keith thought, “There’s this huge mission field here, and a great need for a Christian community…we are just wasting our time as vacationers.”
As Pam was approaching retirement, God gave Pam and Keith the idea of teaching the Bible on cruise ships. That became their life in 2011. They launched High Seas Ministries, which operates on longer cruises (two weeks to four months) throughout much of the school year.
Now, on sea days, 80 to 150 people come to hear them teach the Bible in a room reserved on the cruise ship.
Pam describes High Seas Ministries as interdenominational, reaching primarily older people from various English-speaking countries. Rather than checking denominational traditions at the door, “interdenominational welcomes you to bring your tradition with you.” Some of the participants are nominally Christian and have never read the Bible. “We are here for the lost and the lukewarm, and it is often the lukewarm that reach out to us,” Pam says.
Since long cruises primarily consist of senior adults, Pam and Keith encounter older folks looking for purpose and significance after retirement or who feel they have reached a plateau. “They are kind of coasting. We want to help them get unstuck and see how they can continue to grow in their discipleship,” Pam says.
What brings in these big crowds is Pam’s class, The Bible in 10 Days. According to Pam, some people come because they can’t get enough of the Word, and others come from disbelief that she can present the Bible in 10 days. “Whatever gets them there is fine with me,” she says.
Pam and Keith also minister to the crew members, who hail from all over the world. They mobilize their Bible study groups as “missionaries to engage their crew members” through conversations and through materials in a variety of languages from World Missionary Press.
During these sea day Bible studies, Pam desired a more rigorous level of personal study. Pam and her spiritual mentor had the same place in mind: Asbury Theological Seminary. Pam’s family life and thriving ministry prevented her from being a residential student. Then, she received an email that the M.A. in Biblical and Theological Foundations had become an online option. She enrolled in 2021.
Pam quickly learned about the Hybrid option. Realizing she wanted a longer degree program, she switched to the Master of Arts in Theological Studies and has studied in Orlando, Wilmore, and Tulsa for Hybrid intensives. “I’m loving it,” she says. “The Bible is so infused into every class, every topic. No matter what class I’m taking… the Bible is there.”
The cruise guests have benefitted, too. “Some questions would come up that I didn’t have the background to respond to,” Pam says. “Now, that’s not the case. Asbury has taught me so much. I can now respond to those questions.”
High Seas Ministries also includes land-based tours in the Holy Land, special events such as Senior Vacation Bible School, and Pam’s podcast Time Tested. At the requests of cruise guests, The Bible in 10 Days is now available in book and video formats.
Prepare for the Call
Learn more about how Asbury Seminary can help prepare you for your call. Fill out the form below to get started!