In 1978, a team led by Don and Deyon Stephens began the process of finding a suitable vessel to fulfil their dream of a hospital ship that would reach out to the world's poorest people.
On July 7th 1978, this dream became a reality. The first Mercy Ship, a retired ocean liner called Victoria, was purchased for £600,000. Don and Deyon began recruiting crew for the ship and raising funds to bring the Mercy Ship into compliance with international standards.
Ongoing efforts over four years resulted in the transformation of the passenger vessel into a hospital ship. With the addition of 3 operating theatres and a 40 bed ward, the vessel became an 11,701 tonne floating hospital, carrying a volunteer crew of 350 from all over the world. In 1982, the vessel sailed as the newly christened Anastasis –- the first Mercy Ship.
Since then, various ships in the Mercy Ships fleet have served in more than 150 ports in developing nations around the world, bringing lasting change to hundred of thousands of lives. From the beginning, Don Stephens has served as Founder and CEO of Mercy Ships. Deyon, a registered nurse, serves as the Director of Training and oversees the Ships Watchmen programme. Married in 1966, Don and Deyon have four grown children and became grandparents in 2002.
Dr. Stephens has received the Two Hungers Award and the Religious Heritage Award. He is also a Paul Harris Fellow through Rotary. Conversant in German and French, Don lectures internationally and is the author of two books, Trial by Trial and Mandate for Mercy. His third book, Ships of Mercy is published by Hodder and Stoughton in the UK.
Don is the voice behind the Mercy Minute, a daily radio broadcast aired internationally on over 720 radio stations. Don and Deyon often speak at seminars and conferences worldwide and appear as radio and television guests.