Family and friends say goodbye to YWAM Missionary lost at sea

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez, |
Aaron Bremner |

KAILUA KONA, Hawaii (Christian Examiner) -- Days of searching failed to find 24-year-old missionary Aaron Bremner, whose boat capsized off the Kona Coast of Hawaii on Sunday. Although his body is still missing, members of his mission organization, Youth With a Mission (YWAM), gathered to say goodbye to the sailor at sunset Tuesday.

Bremner was one of five crew members on the sailboat,The Hawaii Aloha, preparing for a two-year voyage of sharing the Gospel and providing medical and dental care in the hard to reach communities of the isolated Christmas Islands.

The boat was waiting out a storm about six miles offshore when large waves flipped the vessel twice the West Hawaii Today reported. Four other crew members reportedly escaped in a portable raft, but Brenmer who was asleep in his berth was believed to be trapped inside.

The Hawaii Aloha after waves capsized the 75-foot vessel. |

The trip was the second deployment for the sailor who traveled to Micronesia in 2014. That mission resulted in more than 3,500 health and training services delivered to people who live so remotely it can take weeks to reach them.

Following the 2014 trip, President Christopher J. Loeak of the Republic of Marshall Islands extended a 10-year invitation for YWAM to continue providing health care and educational initiatives. In a letter expressing his gratitude for the group's humanitarian efforts and condolences to Bremner's family, Loeak offered continued prayers for the skilled sailor's return.

YWAM reported on their emergency update blog that the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) assumed control over the 75-foot vessel and is in the process of removing and disposing of it.

Brett Curtis, Director of YWAM Ships, along with the surviving crew present Aaron Brenman's mother Charlene, stepfather Todd and Aunt Cindy with a folded YWAM flag retrieved from the shoreline at a ceremony honoring the missing missionary sailor.

Brenman's mother, Charlene Calish, requested a memorial fund be set up in her son's name to replace the lost ship.

"YWAM Ships Kona was the way Aaron chose to live out his passion and life's mission of loving God's people all around the world," she wrote in a letter to the organization.

"We would be honored to see his passion continue through the program he believed in by requesting an Aaron Bremner memorial fund be set up for the purpose of replacing the Hawaii Aloha ship. This would help bring healing to the family and cause our hearts to humbly soar."