It began in part with an overheard prayer on a hurricane-battered island. The blood, sweat, tears and petitions of Don and Deyon Stephens and hundreds of visionary volunteers eventually turned the purchase of an abandoned ship into a vessel of mercy.

The patients who found the hospital ship encountered unconditional love that healed them – inside and out. Volunteer professionals from all over the world embraced them; providing free essential surgery, medical treatment, acceptance and prayers.

The crew of the Mercy Ship were changed by these encounters; the patients were transformed. 40 years later, these are some of their stories.