NEWSLETTER SUMMER-EDITION 2018 Nr. 153
From the desk.
In this News Bulletin you can meet a new co-worker, active in the ports of Delfzijl and Eemshaven. We wish you happy reading-time going through the reports below. They were sent to us over the last months. A reminder to those new to our work: We’d be happy to come to your church, fellowship, house-gathering or group to tell more about our work in the ports. We’d love to hear from you!
Delfzijl, Eemshaven, to trust in God!
My name is Peter Jan Kapteijn. Yes, I’ve come to know already that my surname has favoured me well: people
treating me with “respect” on board the ships. I must add that I have no more experience with ships other than having rented a sailing dingy now and then. I am married to José. I am a professional photographer but am in the process of stepping back from the work. For those who wish to marry, I no longer do photo sessions! I gained some experience with gospel work being member of a team in the city of Groningen. About six months ago I started thinking of doing gospel work in my own neighbourhood. Of course, I wanted to continue in the city, speaking to all those people, mostly students and through it I’ve had some fantastic conversations. One can marvel how frank and open one can be, when able to speak about our Saviour! But my own neighbourhood needs Jesus too. Although brought up in the city of Utrecht, I’ve been living in the township of Spijk already for 13 years. It lies between Eemshaven and Delfzijl. How good would it be to bring the Gospel here also.
These last thirteen years I have been following with great interest the development of the port of Eemshaven. It was for years a desolate area concerning the shipping-trade , its activities mainly consisting of maintaining a ferry service with the German Isle of Borkum. Now the port is humming with life. Quite some industry has settled here and large Power stations were built. The port itself has been enlarged with new quay-sides and at this moment Eemshaven is quite involved in the building up of wind parks, both in the coastal region of Holland as well as in Germany. Compared with the Rotterdam port however, as for size, it is a rather moderate one.
My wish to evangelise in these ports still needed a further boost to make it happen and first of all it needed to be prayed about. Till recently the ports with its ships and crews remained firmly closed to me. But by some way, a few months ago, I came to know about the Havenlicht Port mission. After contacting them and talking things over, the “lights” literarily went on green for me. For six weeks already now I have been visiting the ports. In looking back it is so great to think that you actually started to follow Jesus: having conquered your doubts and simply trusting, doing what He has asked of you. Like as it is written in 1 Peter 2:21b where it says: “Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps”.
I started the adventure together with Theo. He was my guide for a whole day and we went to work by laying contacts with the various agencies, showing me the way and how the first steps had to be taken to come aboard the ships. It was a “kick-off” start for me in which I gained so much insight. As time passed by, I have been in contact with captains, crewmembers and with co-workers of the Mission to Seamen establishments. On several occasions I went to the Ports with my friend Hidde. We had worked together before in street missions in Groningen. Now the two of us have been several times to Eemshaven port.
Looking back I am with wonderment of the many good talks I have had, the handing out of the different materials like Bibles, bible studies, woollen hats and jumpers etc. I think of the moments that I could pray for the sailors. Of all the impressions and adventures I keep a BLOG ( www.hetgelovenwaard.nl) i
n the hope that it will make others just as keen to be involved in gospel work as I am. Out of this Blog I want to share some special impressions and adventures with you, but in fact, all encounters are unique. We sow and we reap, but only God can change people. The first time after my “kick-off” start with Theo I made an appointment with my friend Hidde to also come and visit the ships. On the way to the ports I felt rather tense and so I prayed ( with my eyes open ) to the Lord, saying: “God, if it is your will that I am doing this work, please confirm it in a special way, showing that this is for me”. I asked for complete liberty to be able to speak about Jesus. After this prayer I felt more at ease. Shortly after arriving at Eemshaven, Hidde showed up and we went to work. After calling on some ships we at last came to a tugboat called En Avant 10. Two Philippine sailors came to greet us and one of them asked us to come inside. We were happy with such a clear invitation. Once inside we first had a conversation with the captain. Although not a believer himself, we received all liberty to speak to the crew.
In a small mess room we sat down at a table. The cook left to go to his galley but sometime later a young fellow from Aruba joined us. His Dutch was fluent and he had a Catholic background. He had a dislike to images and also those costly buildings didn’t find favour with him . He told us that he read the Bible App of YouVersion. He continued saying that he had been baptised on grounds of his personal belief. I started explaining about our great King and especially of the power of Faith. As for the other Philippino, this was all strange to him but he was an good listener. Hidde then put a question to him: “are you born again?”. That started off a much deepen conversation. It became all very special because our Philippino friend really wanted to get to know Jesus. Hidde told how Jesus died for his sins and if we confess our sins, God will forgive our sins completely. And so it happened that a young sailor on board of a tugboat in Eemshaven gave his life to Jesus.
For his Aruban comrade this of course was fantastic. His colleague/friend was born again and together they could now read and study the Bible. Time passed rapidly and after prayer in which we blessed the crew , the ship and the families back home, we took our leave at 17.30 hours and saying good bye to our brethren in the Lord. Just before we had exchanged E-mail addresses and cards. We left booklets and CD,s at the table. It was a beautiful day and suddenly I was reminded of my prayer in the car on the way to the ports. What confirmation this day proved to be. God is good!
On another visit to Eemshaven on July the 18th Hidde and I visited ,among other ships ,the vessel Langeoog. The Ukrainian watchman contacted the Russian captain and we were given permission to come aboard. He accompanied us to the mess room where a young Philippino seaman was having his dinner. We introduced ourselves and after finishing his meal ,a nice conversation followed. I told him how Jesus had come into my life and how He had changed my life. Hidde asked if he was born again. It was great talking to this person and to see how he was touched by it. ( He had started on his first sea journey and had been on board only six weeks). The cook was also from the Philippines and soon offered us coffee. Sometime later he asked us if we would like something to eat. This turned out to be a complete dinner with soup, baked potatoes, broccoli cabbage and meat. During our meal we continued the conversation. Hidde had a short but nice talk with a young man from Sri Lanka. In the end we passed on Bibles, bible studies and CD’s. Our bulky bag of woollen hats had shrunk considerably in size. We had been aboard for nearly one and a half hours. We were told that the ship was being made ready to go to sea, but would return to the Eemshaven later on in the month. In looking back I can clearly see that God blesses you when you follow Him.
Forever-Praise His Name!
Jan Peter and José Kapteijn.
Also in the past period we have contacted and spoken to many sailors. I’ve noted down for you some of their
countries. We met people from Malaysia, France, Indonesia, Lithuania, the Ukraine, the Philippines, Poland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Russia, Italy, South Africa, New Zealand. To the list could be added even more countries where our sailor friends have come from.“We were just talking about you”…..With these words I was greeted after setting my first steps on an enormous ship. “Look, there he is” ,you could hear and I then shook hands with the men. From time to time we are asked to hold a church service on board. Once when I arrived on a ship to do this, the complete electrical system on board had broken down. It was pitch dark and everybody had been called upon to fix matters. So often we pray for the seafarers and read the Bible with them. It also happens sometimes that we have a good laugh with the men. Our first task however is to listen to their story, their need. Soon then come the pictures of their families to show to me in a proud way. How completely happy a Philippino sailor was with a Bible in Ilocano! “My language” he cried and pressed the Bible to his heart. “In my own native tongue” he kept saying. It meant so much to him. This last season we could distribute many knitted woollen hats, warm coats, jumpers, shoes, pants and on one occasion even nice ties. Not forgetting to mention of course the souvenir bottle ships and nice wooden crosses , both with a printed message at the back. They were very welcome. A hearty thanks for your prayers and expressions of friendship ,meaning you are standing by us!
With cordial greetings,
Theo and Yvonne van Zuilekom
Brothers and sisters. We know that many of you are praying for us on a regular basis and especially because of Anneke’s weak health condition. It was the reason that we haven’t been to the ports these last 4 weeks. At one stage we were asking ourselves: should we continue this work among the seamen? These last days however the Lord has shown us in various ways that He is still behind us in all that we are doing. It so happened that on June the 4th we drove to the ports once more to see if the Lord would give us a confirmation. In fact, we plainly asked for it. Anneke would remain in the car and I would go aboard the ships. At the steel company two Bulk Carriers were berthed. One was laden with coal and the other with iron ore. Both ships were moored stem to stern. This meant boarding would be difficult but all went well. The first ship had Ukrainian Officers and a Philippino crew. These sailors were very happy with what we had brought with us: Bibles in their own language and different kinds of literature, also in their language. The wooden crosses made by our co-worker were very welcome. Two men were relieved from their work on deck to accompany me to my car where Anneke was waiting. They received some fine bags of clothing, woollen hats and scarves and also when they asked, an extra Bible each. Anneke had brought along a new pair of gym shoes, size 44. “What is the size of your shoes”, she asked one of the Philippino’s. It was size 44 ! We prayed for them and this is always appreciated by them. With a thankful heart the two men then returned to their ship. The second vessel moored was registered under the Turkish flag and had 6 Turkish Officers and also a Philippino crew.
The Second Officer came to lead us to the captain’s cabin and we meet a friendly and educated man. He is quite content with the souvenir bottle ship and it receives a special place in one of the portholes. I tell him, knowing he is a Muslim, about God my heavenly Father and about Jesus, the Saviour of the world. Nearly all Shipmasters are in need for a listening ear because of their responsibility and the decisions they have to make. I let him read Philippians 4:6 and 7 from the Turkish Bible that I hand to him. He reads the verses slowly and carefully. He nods in an understanding way and I can nearly guess what he is thinking: this is so much different than the Koran. I explain the verses to him and he looks at me in a special way. Lord, speak to him! The captain agrees to read the Turkish Bible ( third confirmation). He also receives a Turkish –A letter for you – to explain matters further. The Second Officer had, from a distance, been listening to our conversation. When he accompanies me to the gangway, he shares with me that he understands it to be very important to know your eternal destiny.( fourth confirmation) Indeed it is important! He also receives a Turkish Bible and a – Letter for you-. The Philippino’s on board were also given Bibles and biblical literature, but then of course in their language. Two men came back to the car with me where they receive from Anneke two bags of clothing and some bibles. We pray to our heavenly Father for these two Nomads-of-the-sea, for their family members in the Philippines. With a thankful heart they walk back to the gangway.(fifth confirmation). So, quite encouraged Anneke and I just continue on our way in God’s service. “But Lord, please come and help us!” As for you ,dear brothers and sisters, please continue praying for us.
With friendly greetings and God’s blessing,
Jan and Anneke Best.
On the ships you meet all kinds of people. A not so-young-anymore sailor is scrubbing the deck and we start talking. He then asks for a Bible and he is in luck for I have a Russian bible in my bag and pass it on to Vladimir. On another ship I meet a young person from the Philippines. It is his first voyage had and just started his apprenticeship . He tells me about his Christian family back home and recognises that what I’m saying is coming from the Bible. He shares things with me and has questions and so this meeting with Aris and me is an instructive and pleasant one. What counts is what we have in common, being one in the Saviour. Joseph, also from the Philippines, is a rather young sailor and is quite frank in saying that going to sea is often not to his liking: the long periods away from home and the stressful life on board the ship. I share with him that we may know that God is ever present, even in a time when it seems to be just one of “surviving”. One of the two Vietnamese sailors aboard tells me he is not a Christian but seems interested somehow when I show him a DVD in his language. On another ship it looked as if I had come aboard for nothing but I started to feel better when in the end some crewmembers wanted to have a booklet, the St. Johns gospel, a CD and a DVD in their own language. Both Buddhists and Muslims, I discovered several times, appeared to be open and receptive to my message. “For the grace has appeared for the salvation of all men”.( Titus 2:11).
With friendly greetings from the port of Rotterdam,
Wout de Vries.
During my first visit to the ports with Theo I was surprised to see that Theo shook hands with every seaman we met, introducing himself and asking for the man’s name. For me it seemed a too amicable way to greet persons for the first time. In the mean time I’ve learnt that this is a most important gesture to seamen. On board they are often just a number, part of the system of Rank and File and here for seamen they undergo it as a positive and surprising experience when someone comes on deck like that: he shows he is interested in you, wanting to know your name and how you are feeling. For me it can lead to hilarious moments when I try to pronounce the name of a Chinese seaman for instance.Names often have a meaning. Marien ( myfirst name) means: man-from-the-sea but in fact, I am not a seaman at all. This can sometimes be the start of a conversation and a link to the name of Jesus can be quickly laid : “Have you ever heard of the name Jesus? It means Saviour, Redeemer and Jesus is Lord for He conquered even death “. It is our purpose and calling to give off a clear prophetic soundin the ports and on the ships. It is challenging however to find the right tone every time. Prayer and the leading of the Holy Spirit is so needful. It does happen that I tend to let myself be intimidated by the large port areas, its huge ships and all the hectic involved. Firstly you must do your utmost to get on the ships, then you must watch your steps in the port-area itself and finally you meet up with crews who aren’t interested in the Gospel. Sometimes you must improvise for some sailors don’t speak English at all andthen communication is next to impossible. At times it seems better to depart from the ship when you come to realise that nobody is taking any notice of you, not wanting to spend any time with you. At what moment however must you make such a decision?
Does my report now appear to have a plaintive note? No, absolutely no! It is not just any kind of message we’ve
come to bring to the crews!! In this way I handed a Chinese Bible to a Chinese sailor and let him read 1 Timothy
1:15. “The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”.
The sailor nods and gladly accepts a Bible. On another ship, to my surprise, I meet a Syrian crew. The caretaker
first asked me if I knew any Serbian, but he actually meant Syrian. Earlier this year though, I had been on a Syrian ship. It is Ramadan so I won’t be invited for lunch. No matter, but the crew surely must be curious on seeing a “stranger” board the ship. I am invited in for a cup of strong Arabian coffee instead. I feel at home with these men and we talk about many subjects, always looking for an opportunity in between times to explain the Gospel. To my presence some nod with their head, others react in a negative way. Still, there is this young Officer showing a sincere interest. He approaches me withoutattracting too much attention to inquire after some literature and CD’s. To my regret I have no Arabian material with me but luckily he speaks English well. On a next ship with an Indian crew the watchman wants to know my purpose for coming aboard. This time I tell him frankly that I have come to talk about Jesus with anybody who wants to hear my message. The sailor shrugs his shoulder and it is OK with the captain. I am shown the way to the mess room and after sitting there for a while ,a straight line of people marches in. It happens to be the Christian half of the crew, thinking I have come to hold a church service. Sorry, but this was not the planning. But in looking back, we had a good fellowship there all the same. When it was time for me to leave, we read some verses from the Bible as is their custom to do so. It was from Isaiah 51. In verse 5b weread:” the coastlands wait for me, and for My arm they hope “.
The coastlands, they are lands far away from us and just these lands we are reaching, presented as it were on
our doormat in our ports! In parting we prayed and worshipped together. One of the men had just received news that he had become a father andanother person could start on his furlough the next day. In leaving the ship, the First Officer, quite moved, said that this visit had been so important to him.
“There are so few port missionaries that come to visit us.”
For me a great encouragement and confirmation to continuewith my work in the ports.
Rotterdam, Muslims and the Bible.
Since a few months now, when arriving on ships, I encounter more and more Muslims. I rather like it and for me it is challenging to start a conversation with them. While talking to them I want to share as much of the Gospel with them as possible. In this way I have built up good contacts with Turkish Muslims as well as with some Indonesian Muslims. I consider it to be successful when they take a Bible or Gospel , wanting to read in it.
On board of a small Container ship which was in a dry-dock, an accident had happened. A sailor had been injured while removing rust. He had used an electric drill with a steel wire brush spinning from the chuck and one of the steel bristles had come loose. Even while wearing safety glasses it had got underneath them and struck his eye. His luck held for he could be taken quickly to the Eye and Ear Hospital. He was operated on and the steel wire was successfully removed. He was told to take a complete resting period for a whole month. He wasn’t allowed to work or to fly home and was to remain on the ship the whole time. That of course, was terribly boring to him. During a visit, after dinner, I had a talk with him and asked what he was doing the whole day. “I read”. So I asked: “What are you reading?” “The Koran”, he answered. So we talked some about the Koran and “other religious books” of God, the Old and New Testament. During our conversation I was able to explain the complete Gospel to him and challenged him to also read the Bible, to compare it with the Koran. He agreed to do this and accepted an Indonesian Bible from me. My prayer is that by reading God’s Word ( which is definitely not the Koran) he will come to a living Faith!
A hearty greeting from
The seafarers mentioned in this newsletter do have in actual life different names. For privacy reasons the proper names are not mentioned. The photo’s in this bulletin are printed with permission.
Our deep thanks to: “WIN-NL Seafarers’ Ministry”, Dutch Seamen Society, Seamen's Centre Amsterdam, Global Recordings Network, Ark Mission, Evangelism Foreigners Service, The Bible Society, Pocket Testament League, Christian Aid Ministries, Operation Mobilization and other unnamed organizations, who all in their own specific way, contribute to do the job well.
We would like to ask prayer once more for the health of the co-workers. Particularly for Anneke Best. Prayer is also needed for new co-workers in the ports of Harlingen and Delfzijl. A hearty thanks for all you valuable prayers and other tokens of fellowship. In this way God is working, also through you, in order that sailors can hear His Word and accept it. We are grateful towards God for the many chances to be a blessing to seafarers.
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