Mercy Ships


Mercy Ships utilizes ocean-going hospital ships to bring medical care and community development to the world's poorest peoples. Surgeons perform thousands of operations to remove tumors, correct cleft lips and palates, give sight to the blind, repair fistulas, and perform a wide range of orthopaedic operations. Medical and dental teams visit prearranged sites and establish field clinics. They carry out vaccination programs, dental care, minor operations, and medical screening. Mercy Ships supports the training of local doctors and nurses, and educating the local people. Mercy Ships is a nonprofit organization and contributions to it are fully tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. In addition, it is a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA).

Contact information

Mailing address:
PO Box 2020
15862 Highway 110 N., Garden Valley, TX 75771
Garden Valley, TX 75771-2020


Phone: (903) 939-7000


Organization details

EIN: 953793975

CEO/President: Mr. Don Stephens

Chairman: Mr. Don Stephens

Board size: 11

Founder: Don and Deyon Stephens

Year founded: 1978

Tax deductible: Yes

Fiscal year end: 12/31

Member of ECFA: Yes

Member of ECFA since: 1999


Mercy Ships represents a compassionate response to a world that has lost hope. A global charity, Mercy Ships utilizes ocean-going hospital ships to bring medical care and community development to the world's poorest peoples. Mercy Ships serves people of all faiths, working in partnership with developing nations to bring about sustainable change. By mobilizing people and resources worldwide, it is possible to make a lasting difference with limited resources. Following the example of Jesus, Mercy Ships workers endeavor to be the face of love in action.

Mercy Ships growing fleet includes the Anastasis, Caribbean Mercy and Africa Mercy. When completely refitted, the Africa Mercy will be the largest non-governmental hospital ship in the world. Dedicated surgeons have performed thousands of life-changing operations. Onboard the ships, they have removed tumors and cataracts, corrected cleft-lip/palates and crossed eyes and done extensive maxillo/facial repairs. In the countries where Mercy Ships visits, these operations are unavailable for most of the population. Mercy Ships provides them free of charge.

In addition to surgeries onboard the ships, Mercy Ships surgeons have worked in partnership with national doctors in local hospitals, performing a wide range of orthopedic procedures.

Mercy Ships also provides community health education, dental and medical clinics, agricultural, construction, well drilling and sanitation projects in communities surrounding the ports visited.

Two permanent centers, one in Sierra Leone and one in Nicaragua, work with people who have been disenfranchised through war and natural disasters. Mercy Ships also facilitates short-term missions for small groups.

Mercy Ships began in 1978 and has since completed projects in more than 95 port areas of the world. While most of its work is now done in Africa and the Caribbean, the organization's long-term goal is to expand its fleet and to increase its servicel around the globe. Mercy Ships International Operations Center is located in the USA with 16 (?) national offices worldwide.

All contributions to Mercy Ships are fully tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. The organization is a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA).

Mission statement

Mercy Ships, a global charity, has operated a growing fleet of hospital ships in developing nations since 1978. Following the example of Jesus, Mercy Ships brings hope and healing to the poor, mobilizing people and resources worldwide.

Statement of faith

Mercy Ships affirms:

  • The Bible is God's inspired and authoritative word and reveals that Jesus is God's Son.
  • People are created in God's image and designed to have eternal life through Jesus.
  • All people need God, and salvation is possible through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
  • God desires all people to come to the knowledge of the truth.
  • Repentance, faith, love and obedience are fitting responses to God's initiative of grace toward us.
  • The Holy Spirit's power is demonstrated in part through believers, as all persons will know that we are Christ's followers if we love one another.
  • Transparency grade


    To understand our transparency grade, click here.

    Financial efficiency ratings

    Sector: Relief and Development

    CategoryRatingOverall rankSector rank
    Overall efficiency rating570 of 59166 of 68
    Fund acquisition rating524 of 59161 of 68
    Resource allocation rating487 of 59165 of 68
    Asset utilization rating520 of 59165 of 68

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    Balance sheet
    Receivables, inventories, prepaids$12,588,055$41,772,873$48,325,933$29,608,348$32,223,173
    Short-term investments$5,123,359$5,014,378$12,308,955$12,180,443$12,063,441
    Other current assets$0$0$0$189,596$183,602
    Total current assets$87,096,338$94,119,220$92,651,487$98,133,244$87,370,677
    Long-term investments$59,350,987$52,436,452$30,637,369$0$0
    Fixed assets$107,381,672$103,288,589$89,809,161$84,747,667$73,118,986
    Other long-term assets$35,640,361$0$204,431$0$0
    Total long-term assets$202,373,020$155,725,041$120,650,961$84,747,667$73,118,986
    Total assets$289,469,358$249,844,261$213,302,448$182,880,911$160,489,663
    Payables and accrued expenses$8,064,380$8,792,847$6,391,666$4,530,423$7,490,051
    Other current liabilities$1,212,645$1,190,774$1,174,014$1,043,583$1,152,526
    Total current liabilities$9,277,025$9,983,621$7,565,680$5,574,006$8,642,577
    Due to (from) affiliates$0$0$0$0$0
    Other long-term liabilities$2,200,896$1,932,377$1,622,728$1,510,548$1,507,024
    Total long-term liabilities$2,200,896$1,932,377$2,164,740$3,342,921$4,533,146
    Total liabilities$11,477,921$11,915,998$9,730,420$8,916,927$13,175,723
    Net assets20192018201720162015
    Temporarily restricted$125,098,193$103,290,793$91,030,176$73,566,741$63,841,394
    Permanently restricted$0$1,187,000$987,000$787,000$582,000
    Net assets$277,991,437$237,928,263$203,572,028$173,963,984$147,313,940
    Revenues and expenses
    Total contributions$132,494,279$117,470,243$107,332,404$91,101,805$89,096,220
    Program service revenue$6,396,207$5,727,286$1,727,438$2,113,681$2,008,637
    Membership dues$0$0$0$0$0
    Investment income($228,110)($1,337,992)$886,444($1,156,509)$82,493
    Other revenue$1,596,723$1,725,001$1,789,286$1,807,784$1,857,313
    Total other revenue$7,764,820$6,114,295$4,403,168$2,764,956$3,948,443
    Total revenue$140,259,099$123,584,538$111,735,572$93,866,761$93,044,663
    Program services$70,392,262$66,264,371$62,227,252$51,804,877$50,287,474
    Management and general$8,673,004$6,045,513$6,760,813$5,298,657$5,151,427
    Total expenses$99,441,878$88,256,709$82,819,106$68,745,189$66,957,971
    Change in net assets20192018201720162015
    Surplus (deficit)$40,817,221$35,327,829$28,916,466$25,121,572$26,086,692
    Other changes in net assets($754,047)($971,594)$691,578$1,528,472($1,870,426)
    Total change in net assets$40,063,174$34,356,235$29,608,044$26,650,044$24,216,266

    Response from ministry

    No response has been provided by this ministry.


    Mercy Ships began with the vision that ships might carry medical personnel and relief cargo to help the poor. Don and Deyon Stephens, along with a group of other young people, purchased the former passenger liner Victoria for $1 million in 1978. After four years of refit, the vessel sailed as the newly christened Anastasis, the first Mercy Ship. From the beginning, Don Stephens has served as Founder/CEO of Mercy Ships. Mercy Ships has provided free surgeries, dental care, medical supplies, development training, clothing, construction materials, food and seeds and a message of hope to more than seventy port districts worldwide.

    Program accomplishments

    Mercy Ship's surgeons have performed more than 12,000 surgeries on and off board. These include: cleft lips and palates repairs, cataract removal and lens implants, straightening crossed eyes, removal of large tumors and reconstruction of facial features distorted by accidents and disease.

    In addition, over 220,000 people have been treated in village medical clinics and more than 110,000 dental treatments have been performed.

    Primary health care has been taught to village leaders who have in turn trained thousands of others. Crew members have built schools, hospitals, churches and homes. They have taught agricultural techniques and demonstrated construction and maintenance of latrines as well as installing and teaching maintenance of water wells to provide clean water to entire villages. Additionally, tens of millions of dollars of medical equipment, hospital supplies and medicines have been distributed to the poor and needy.


    Mercy Ships presents its needs as follows:

  • Prayer. Everything we do is dependent upon Gods direction and provision.
  • Volunteers. Mercy Ships could not exist without dedicated volunteers who not only give their time and expertise, but also pay monthly crew fees.
  • Financial Contributions.
  • Gifts -in-kind (medical supplies, fuel, etc.)