Port Contact: John Burleigh
Country: United Kingdom (GB)
Hello from Greenock
Being an Ocean Terminal, Greenock hosts a wide variety of ships, including some of the world’s largest cruise liners, as well as bulk tankers, container ships and Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) vessels. I have little involvement with the cruise liners, simply because of the security logistics around gaining access, but for most other vessels it’s usually a case of turning up and walking onboard.
Taking the Message
Apart from the RFA vessels, most of the crew members I meet nowadays are Filipino or Russian. I will often have a bible reading with those who are receptive to the Christian message and if the timing is right, I’ll invite them to a service at Barnard’s Court Mission, where there is always a warm welcome for seafarers. Alternatively, we may go to Glasgow Cathedral, which is a wonderfully impressive building. Afterwards the seamen will take the opportunity for some shopping, before we return to their vessel. On occasion, some of them may come back to my home for fellowship and to meet my wife, Heather.
My primary role is to take the message of the Gospel to seafarers and I try to do this through both attraction and promotion. In other words, by offering them friendship, practical help and a listening ear, as well as through prayer, bible study and discussion. Crew members from Southeast Asia are usually Muslim but they will often take the Christian literature which I offer. And irrespective of their ethnicities and backgrounds, seafarers are always very appreciative of the woolly hats, jumpers and other gifts I bring onboard and my thanks go out to all those who provide them.
Making a difference
I came to SCFS in Greenock around 2008 and prior to that I had been a teacher for many years. However I felt myself drawn to carry God’s Word and from 2003-07 I studied for a Degree in Theology. My predecessor in this role, Jim Jamieson, encouraged me to devote my energies to helping seamen through SCFS and I am immensely grateful for the support and mentoring that he provided. The seafarer's life is not easy. These men spend long periods of time away from home and this brings problems of homesickness, loneliness and marital/family issues. They have many needs and they really do appreciate our visits and our prayer support. I know our visits make a difference.