NEWSLETTER WINTER-EDITION NO 163
How nice it is, particularly these days, to encourage seamen, pointing to the Lord Jesus: “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”. (Matthew 11:28) It is then a privilege to show to them the new key-chain QR-code Bible in many languages. They are extremely happy with it. At the moment we are prayerfully looking for people who would be willing to take over the task of Theo and Yvonne van Zuilekom at the Havenlicht Mission. After forty six years, isn’t it time for it? Would you join us in prayer over this matter?
It would be a privilege and a joy to come to your church or Fellowship to tell about our work in a more way. Should you have any good coats or jumpers or other useful garments you do not wear anymore, we’d be glad to accept them on behalf of the sailors who’d be grateful for them. On our website you’ll find more information. You could also ring us for more details or contact us by mail.
Region IJmuiden - Jesus aboard his ship
While Anneke remains sitting in the car at the Pier ( because of her impaired health). I ask the Chinese crew on a large Freighter if I could see the Captain. I tell him the reason for my coming aboard: presenting Bibles in Chinese to the crew as a free gift. The man looks at me and from above his face mask his eyes widen to a glare as he shouts “NO, NO BIBLES ON MY SHIP!” Rarely did I see such a reaction but his language is clear enough. It’s sad but that’s it! Much earlier than expected I am back at the pier with Anneke because of this unexpected encounter.
Not taken back by this experience, we drive on in good spirits to the next ship in the dock area. And whom do we meet again: Chinese sailors. So, the same question asked and a totally different situation! A most friendly Captain receives a Bottle ship souvenir and a Bible in Mandarin. I let him read Philippians 4: 6 and 7 in his own language, “Yes, understand”. The crew also receives Bibles, Children’s Bibles for at home and biblical literature. Even woollen hats. Again on another ship with a Philippine crew ( all the while Anneke is waiting in the car). The captain receives me in his office. The man proves to be a brother in Christ! To him I also show Philippians 4:6,7. Then we read Matthew. 10:40 which reveals that, notwithstanding the captain’s friendly gesture, I have actually brought Jesus aboard his ship. I pray for the Captain with his great responsibilities. In the Mess room I pray for the crewmembers present there. Two men walk with me to the car. Anneke hands out packages containing a Bible, a Calendar with Bible verses, text cards and personal items like shampoo, soap, toothpaste, a woollen hat, a towel etc. for them and their colleagues. There we also pray for them and with a thankful heart they climb aboard again.
As from tomorrow they again will be weeks at sea destined to moor at one or other industrial site somewhere on the other side of the world. Please continue to pray for Anneke’s health. Please also pray that particular Chinese Captain who would not allow his crew to receive the Word of God, that on sleepless nights he might realise that his fight is with God Himself!
With friendly greetings and God’s blessing,
Jan and Anneke Best
Rotterdam - This is not our work but the work of God
After having talked to the cook in the doorway of the galley and on reaching the deck again, I nearly ran into Abayasa. He comes from a distant “archipelago” and proves to be a Christian. To him I can pass on some literature. On a Bulk carrier I meet Banoy from the Philippines. We talk some and come to the parable of the seed and about the grape vine that only bears fruit when the branches remain fixed to the vine. He sometimes reads the Bible and likes to know about things. We have quite a conversation and together we read from the Scriptures.
On another ship I meet several Russians crewmembers and that same day also Yigit, a Turkish naval trainee. He is curious to know what I believe. This is not our “work”, but the work of God that , He in His grace, wants to do through us. Dung from Vietnam who has been away from home for almost 5 months, is so surprised to receive literature and a DVD in his own language. A cause for joy to the sailors this month are the Christmas parcels which we can bring aboard thanks to the gifts provided by our friends. The sailor’s beaming faces speak for themselves. Sometimes there is loneliness aboard. They are really glad to have a visitor coming to see them.
In closing I want to remark that we appreciate very much the people who, with love and care, are doing the work behind the scenes and are praying for us. God has not changed.
We wish you a blessed New Year!
Wout de Vries
Amsterdam - God has not forgotten us
On the picture you see the first two sailors in the whole world who have received the QR-code Bible key-chain. They were overjoyed when I showed them how it worked. They straightaway asked for an extra one for their family back home. The little bottle that they are holding is from the hands of Yvonne, it having a festive glow inside, thanks to a battery .
A Russian and a Polish sailor receive the QR-code Bible key-chain in a likewise surprising manner. However, on that ship nothing was allowed to be accepted from “outside”. No Bibles, no folders and sad enough, neither Christmas parcels! This I overheard the Captain say over the Porto phone. But the men wanted to keep the QR-code key-chain: the Bible in their own language etc. The Polish Chief Officer would later scan the QR-code for the crew. In this way the Word of God arrived on the ship and so be it.
The crewmembers of a Cruise ship also received the QR-code key-chain. Here, also nothing was allowed to be taken aboard. Imagine what loneliness the crewmembers would be experiencing. But the Word of God is of great consolation and always finds a way in somewhere. God’s Word cannot be bound in any way.
High up on the Bridge a Croatian Captain and his Bulgarian First Officer showed great enthusiasm when I showed them my QR-code key-chain: the Bible available in their own language.
The Philippine crew were very much encouraged and grateful when Yvonne and I visited them. They asked for prayer. I read some verses from the Bible, explaining its meaning and prayed for them in the end. “God has not forgotten us”, we hear this often these last months and also: “you people haven’t forgotten us”. Yvonne had a special experience when we were (on invitation) on a ship where we had been before, especially Theo.
Yvonne: “Having put on the prescribed safety shoes and taking with me the safety helmet at home , I set out with Theo for the ships. On arrival they asked us if we cared to accept a bag of safety shoes to hand out to others. “Yes, sure”.
We then sat down for a talk. We had taken with us also some special bags of Santa Claus cookies for the crew, so called pepernootjes. So we handed them out and heard that they were due to go home shortly to celebrate Christmas with their families. Then one of the men said: “madam, look at your shoes!” The complete sole of my shoe had come loose and looking at my other shoe I could pull off the sole with great ease. Now, to my surprise, looking in the bag of safety shoes we had been given, a pair of shoes my size was found , yes, size 42! Yes, I live on a big foot! This was so special. Never before had we been given a bag of shoes and now it contained a pair even to my own size. In no way could I have gone any further with my old shoes. To top it all, we needed to go on a visit afterwards as well. GOD IS GOOD!
A hearty thanks for your prayers and other tokens of fellowship,
Theo and Yvonne van Zuilekom
Op de Logos Hope – This ship is resounding with missionary stories
In my reports you have read about serving on ships that operate on a commercial level where believers gather and share the Word, coming from many nations. But how is it on a ship that is completely in the service of God? On this ship I observed that also here sailors needed to wait 6 months extra before being able to travel home. All because of this pantomime and other sailors can’t come over to us. In the meanwhile, on this ship whole groups are being trained to become Engine Watch ratings and they also take many Watch-duty turns. How many of them will find their way to a maritime career? We called in at Freeport in the Bahamas several times. Also other ships could be seen in the port, the now “quiet” Cruise ships nearby, but strict safety rules make a visit to them impossible. No one from our ship is allowed to go ashore either and since March no visitors are allowed on our ship. The book department on Deck 4 is open for us at certain times. We are with 250 shipmates aboard, normally we have a crew of 400. But we are not letting time pass by.
On this ship it is resounding with missionary stories and preparations are made to reach the people and nations. The ship also has been going places but was sometimes at anchor in the shallows during a raging storm where we had quite some adventures. All of this in order to be of help to the Abaco islands where the reconstruction after Hurricane Dorian is slowly progressing. We have helped hundreds of people to construct homes, helped people to the right kind of spectacles and served them with our mobile dental clinic. This had to be managed using our small boats, using rope ladders and bringing out the Davits. The Island dwellers haven’t given up hope and many were touched by the way we came to serve them out of love to the Lord Jesus. My task on-board is the Engine room, one of the key functions in order to run the ship. There was nobody available in the long run and this position is greatly in demand. After two months on the ship I was asked to sign on for 18 months and it brought to me the challenge to start living on the support of gifts. It was no longer a question of what I wanted, knowing that without a ship’s Engineer a ship cannot sail. So now I was asked to stay on and God willing , He makes it possible.
So, by God’s grace and with the stringent rules not to board or re-board the ship, we are blessed.
Michiel Kramers – First Engineer Operations, Logos Hope
Delfzijl and Eemshaven - Our prayers are answered
In spite of the restrictions, Harm and I went to visit the Eemshaven port. This time also we parked our car at a quiet spot to pray. We asked God to lead us to the right people and for His wisdom during the conversations. Initially things seemed to be against us. The first ship that we visited was a Working Vessel by the name of Rem Inspector ( seen in the background). An amazing ship with a large helicopter platform on the fore-deck. To our regret we came no further than the Watchman, telling us from his little office that the captain couldn’t receive us because of the Corona restrictions. But with the Bulgarian Watchman we had a nice talk. First about his native country and when asked if he was a Christian he reacted in a doubtful manner. Both Harm and I could share much about the Gospel with him. We encouraged him to pray and especially read the Bible. We could leave some Bibles behind which the Watchman would pass on to the others.
Apart from the ship Rem Inspector also some fishing vessels from Urk were there, unloading their catch of flounder and would remain there for the weekend. We struck up a conversation with the men of the UK 197 bearing the name Noorderlicht. The crew were believing Christians and how good it was to show them that evangelising doesn’t always take place in far-away foreign lands. We shared some of our experiences we’d had aboard ships and that Jesus wants to have a personal relationship with us. In the end we passed on some Interactive Sailor Bibles.
Then we went to the “floating pier”. Here also fishing vessel were tied up. On the ship UQ 15 we had some real good talks. Earlier contact on other ships had taught me that there is a great difference between fishermen from Urk and those of the Groninger Usquert village. All the more when it concerned the Christian faith. We came in contact with a fisherman who, as it proved later, fished all by himself. We talked some and he told us all about catching shrimp. When I in turn informed him about our business, he told us that belief meant nothing to him. He knew about the Bible from his Sunday school days and regarding the church, he didn’t want to know. Still, we shared many a testimony, telling about the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. In the end the man did accept an Interactive Sailor Bible and promised us he would download the App.
Then we went over to two men watching the shipping. It proved they were brother’s in law. One is a Christian, the other one not. But we could tell about the Gospel during our conversation. We hardly came to see ships from the inside but to several people we could tell about the Lord Jesus. Our prayers were answered.
God is good.
Jan Peter Kapteijn
Amsterdam and Scheveningen - It is good to know that there are people who think about us
The human measure, you would almost forget it when confronted with the huge ships in port and the small fellow human beings you meet there: sailors, vagabonds of the oceans; who are these people and what motivates them? A people of an almost forgotten group, being often 9 to 10 months from home ( now even 15-17 month) and are, as it were, part of a machine. Loneliness and homesickness are the biggest problem of a seaman, especially now during the Corona time. Sailors are also great thinkers, but strange enough, they are often speechless when it comes to answering questions about their eternal destiny. “Do not bother me, I don’t have spirit”, mumbles a Croatian sailor to me. But strange enough, it is the same man that later comes looking for me. Being curious, he picks up the Gospel Cube laying on the table. One of the pictures show the grave with soldiers and the great stone and it fascinates him. “This isn’t right” is his certain opinion, “for in the movie it is quite different”. Yes, in the movie but I base my knowledge on the almost identical 4 Gospels. Juristically seen it bears stronger proof. “OK, “, he continues, “but in the end all faiths are equal and are one and the same”. It sounds very peaceful but is in fact a great lie. Only by Jesus does God show His true image to the world. “Only Jesus can save us”, I tell him. It looked like a Yes-and- No argument, but it went on quite friendly. I have no wish to have the last word. I am just a messenger. The ship’s Officer picks up an English Bible ( No Croatian one available just then) when he starts to show me some photos of his granddaughter, being so proud of her.
“Only I don’t know when I will see her again”. This was a nice encounter but it also happens sometimes that a ship is at the point of leaving and nobody has time for you. A Philippino sailor walks with me to the car to pick up some items. He is glad to leave the ship for a moment and keeps on talking. It turns out that we are of the same age but he also discloses to me a few things of his rather shocking life’s story. I have no idea how to answer him. But he wants me to pray for him. So we pray at the parking lot behind the car. We can bring everything to the Lord in prayer and it brings him relief. I also had a book for him which discloses exactly the situation in which he is. It hopefully will serve as “aftercare” for him. A big Russian asks me for a large woollen hat. That may be strange because woollen hats are more popular with Asian people. But he says: “It is good to know that there are people who think of us, knit woollen hats and pray for us”. Then he is off again.
Like every year in December we hand out Christmas gifts. Something that is always appreciated by the sailors and especially this year. It brings about great opportunities to explain the Christmas message.
Thank you for all the good gifts that we received for this occasion.
With cordial greetings,
Rotterdam - a diamond in the waste basket
In the last Bulletin I wrote how Steve found a Bible study course and came to a saving knowledge in the Lord Jesus Christ. We kept in touch via e-mail and I sent some more courses to keep his faith active. Last month I was able to meet him personally for the first time, we had some nice and encouraging talks. He told me: “When I came aboard this ship and started to clean the galley, I found a diamond in a waste basket. This diamond is your book and by studying the Bible I became a rich man, spiritually”. Not only did Steve study the courses, he also sent them to his wife in India. Because of the Lockdown it was the most perfect time to read the Bible and study it. She in turn passed what she had learnt on to her daughter. “My daughter wants to study medicine and it is her greatest wish to do mission work with her medical experience”. Steve’s wife is now receiving extra courses via the free App provided by the Emmaus Bible Correspondence School. When I met Steve, his wife had already finished six courses within a few weeks. About a joyful reunion after 8 years: In 2020 I met Jeff, a young Philippino cook. During that time Jeff became a Christian. Later he went back to the Philippines, said goodbye to his seaman’s career and started a small business of his own. Sad enough, his business wasn’t successful and as a consequence he went back to work on a ship again. Some time ago his ship called in at the port of Cork in Ireland where Jeff met a colleague port missionary. He in turn informed me that Jeff’s ship visits the port of Rotterdam regularly. It was fantastic meeting brother Jeff after 8 years.
Now I visit his ship every two weeks to talk to him, teaching him from the Bible and we pray together. Jeff is so encouraged by my visits and is increasing in faith step by step.
The Lord is a mighty God and leads during all of our life.
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: City-Bibles, “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,, Our Daily Bread Ministries and other unnamed organizations, who all in their own specific way, contribute to do the job well.
Special prayer points
We would like to ask you to keep on praying for the health of all workers of Het Havenlicht and their families but especially for: Inez de Baat, Anneke Best and Jan Peter Kapteijn to continue and persevere in the ministry God has given. Would you also like to pray for open doors and open hearts, and also for the right successors for Theo and Yvonne van Zuilekom? We believe in a God of miracles.
A hearty thanks for all you valuable prayers and other tokens of fellowship.
In this way God is working, in and 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.