Teesside

Denis Taylor [denis.taylor@scfs.org]

Denis TaylorMy name is Denis Taylor (not to be confused with the snooker player) and my wife is Shirley. We have 2 sons, Kieran who is at home with us and our eldest is Damian who is married to Diane.

Many people still see the seafarer's life as "seeing the world and getting paid to do it." Maybe at one time it was like that; now a seafarer is hard pushed to get time away from the ship. I remember a little while back taking a seafarer into town; it was his first time away from the ship for over two months.

Times have changed for all of us but certainly for the seafarer. It was over 21 years ago when I first boarded a ship. On that visit and each visit after that, you never knew who you would meet. Crew size would be 20 plus on an average size ship and often ships would stay in port overnight. I remember Indian ships with over 50 on board. How things have changed. I would say 90% of the men I meet are from the Philippines the other 10% being mainly Russian speaking and crew sizes are now down to the bare minimum with some ships down to only 5 men.

Sadly the Filipino guys whom I meet are away from home for 10 months or more on . The biggest percentages of these men are young, having a wife and young children back home. I tell them they are special people; they work many months away to give their families a better standard of living but at a cost, sacrificing time with their families to earn that extra cash. So why do they work for so many months when European seafarers will only work for 4-6 months? The shipping company only wants to pay for one flight; flights to the Philippines are expensive so the longer on board the less flights to pay for.

Time away from home brings its problems, homesickness, loneliness, and marital/family problems. Some would think our work is to go on board and preach, yes we do share the good news of the Gospel but most of the time it is listening , using the word of God to encourage. I class it a privilege to have been able to sit and have coffee with many seafarers (I rarely refuse as this is the time a man will open up and start to talk) listening to them, sharing with them, being able to take them shopping, back home and rarely these days to church.

Please pray for these men, working many months from home, long hours with little rest; one man I met had had 2 hours rest in a 16 hour period. Their biggest complaint now is that the work is, work, sleep, work, sleep with more work than sleep saying sometimes a couple of extra crew would make the job much easier but they know that isn't going to happen. The seafarer's life is not easy. They really do appreciate our visits, and our prayer support. These men as I have said have many needs. I know our visits make a difference.

God bless.

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