Internet access is often very restricted or completely unavailable to seafarers on board their ships, so they have limited access to online reading material, especially Gospel-based literature. It is not entirely surprising then when our Chaplains often say that they find there is a real hunger for Christian literature amongst those they visit, and that the Bibles, books, tracts and CDs they distribute aren’t just casually glanced at and thrown away. They are most usually read very carefully, even by members of other faiths.
Our friend Martin Otto, in his book Seafarers!, relates the lovely story of a letter he received from a Russian sailor, telling how he had read a tract that Martin had left on board his ship. After reading it, the man prayed to receive Jesus Christ as his Lord and he was so excited that he gave the tract to one of his comrades. His colleague was at first annoyed, but later read the piece also came to faith in Jesus. Both men went on to carry the message.
The lesson here is that our literature is an essential part of our missionary toolkit. It may not always be possible to distribute it in person to each seafarer. But with permission it can be left behind and God willing, will find its way into the hands of those who need it.