“Seafarers face a complex range of health and welfare issues, including considerable levels of stress, criminalization, excessive working hours, reduced crewing and often poor standards of crew accommodation and communication equipment.
“Seafaring is one of the loneliest and most dangerous jobs in the world. Every day thousands of ships sail the world’s seas and oceans operated by a small number of crew who spend months away from those they love." - Nautilus International Telegraph
Visitation to the Melbourne ports has continued on a regular basis over the last 7 months. Each and every crew has been very appreciative of the time spent with them and for our Christian materials sponsored by Activated Ministries. As you will see from the reactions below, our ship visitation plays a large part in helping to see them through their long voyages at sea. During the winter, many a crew arrives at port tired and without sleep after days of rolling (turbulence) due to rough weather. Below is a small sampling of some of the events and reactions of crew members.
On a car carrier ship I visited, I met a cadet who had just lost his sister and was very emotional. We prayed together and I encouraged him that his sister wanted him to be happy. She loved Jesus, and had done everything she could to help get her brother on his feet. I was able to leave him some of the Get Activated books. He sent me an SMS when he arrived at the next port. His message read, “Hi ma’am, Irene, it’s me. I just want to say thank you for what you’ve done to my life, to enlighten me. I will never forget you. GOD BLESS!”
The Activated magazines I left with him had greatly encouraged him. He said he was really happy - to the point that his crew mates thought he was going crazy! He had already shared the testimony with his family and friends, and wanted to share the materials with others when he got home.
He encouraged me to continue visiting ships daily and find someone like him on each visit.
Another man had lost his wife and three-year-old in a ferry that sank in the Philippines two years ago. He was very happy to talk, pray, reconnect to Christian faith, and was very happy to receive the Activated magazines.
A 2nd officer from Ethiopia was very happy to get Activated materials and music CDs. He was going home and said he was drained from too much work and no Bible reading on the ship.
I visited a ship captain who is facing court for an oil spill. He was very concerned about facing a possible jail sentence. He was very thankful for the sponsored reading materials I left with him and gave his wife a subscription to the Activated magazines.
The crew on a car carrier ship asked for extra Activatedmagazines as they are going into anchorage for 13 days and then their ship was being scrapped. They were uncertain about their employment after that time.
One crew member said, “It’s all here, this is what we need; otherwise our minds wander alone in our cabins.” Hope re-entered his eyes as he said, “This is how my faith will get strong.”
“The Sea” Issue #203 Jan/Feb 2010 reports: “About 10 merchant ships and at least 250 seafarers are being held by Somali gangs. In the last 9 months of 2009, pirates boarded 114 vessels, hijacked 34 and fired on 88. Pirates murdered 6 seafarers, 8 were reported missing, and a further 12 were kidnapped in addition to the 661 crew members held hostage on their ships.”
Later, the Southeast Asia Regional Work Program “Sea-For-Action”, Issue #2, 2010 stated: “Out of 661 seafarers on board the 30 ships captured by pirates, 386 of them were Filipino seafarers. 364 of the Filipino seafarers have been released, but 19 are still in captivity at the time of reporting.
I visited a brand new bulk ship, which was scheduled to sail to the Middle East. This voyage would take them through waters frequented by Somalian pirates. One of the crew told me he was very nervous about passing this area.
SMS's from the seamen:
“Hi, how are you today? Our ships just departed a few hours ago and we are sailing to Singapore. Thanks for the nice conversations with God …” – The officer who sent me this SMS, was very grateful for the Get Activated books sponsored by Activated Ministries. He said, “This is our TREASURE”. He also subscribed his wife to the Activated magazine. The crew on this ship hadn’t been ashore for the best part of 5 months, and other visitors weren’t allowed on the ship.
“Thanks for your inspiring text message. Please pray for me as recently I could not walk due to a painful illness. Your prayers sustained me even during the difficult and painful times.” – This message was sent from a Ship Captain while in port in Africa several months after meeting us.
“Hello, I want to ask you a special favor. Pray for the miracle of healing.” – The Engineer was very grateful for Activated magazines and this visit. His wife has stage three breast cancer. I was able to help him subscribe his wife to a yearly Activated magazine subscription. I have also been in touch with her by email.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) Council made 2010 the “Year of the Seafarer”, the theme was selected to give IMO and the international maritime community the opportunity to pay tribute to the world's seafarers for their unique contribution to society and in recognition of the risks they shoulder in the execution of their duties in an often hostile environment.
Thank you again, Activated Ministries for the sponsorship of 2,800 Activated magazines and 136 booklets that we were able to distribute between April and October 2010.