I have been visiting ships to take the Word of God to seamen since 1989. Back in those early days when I requested permission from the port for a ship visit, I always introduced myself as a Christian Friend to seamen. This hasn’t changed.
My first priority is to offer the Word of God in the language of the seafarer that I am meeting. But I also believe there is great value in offering Children’s Bible Story Books in the language of the seafarer, as the Scripture says you should train up a child in the things of the Lord. I find that tracts and DVDs are great ways to get the seafarer’s attention and I frequently use the Ultimate Questions booklet.
Over the years my wife and I have invited many seafarers to our home. This usually happens on Sunday evenings when, having accepted an invitation to come with us to church, we invite them home for supper.
After a long period at sea, usually with no means of external communications, seamen need help to contact their families. We are very aware of this need and do as much as we can to help meet it. I make myself available to give them lifts to local shops where they can buy telephone cards. Fortunately however, there is free Wi-Fi in the port and some ships have internet on board.
We are fortunate to have good resources of foreign language literature. I used to offer Emmaus Bible study courses, but most of the shipping coming into Ipswich is irregular, so the courses were difficult to sustain. An added challenge is that many ships coming to Ipswich are on short sea routes which means that rest time is at a premium.
We greatly value the prayer support from those who take an interest in the work. We are also thankful for the financial support the Lord provides through our supporters. I write a newsletter twice a year which goes out either by Royal Mail or email to supporters who are interested and who pray for the ministry.