Introduction Wonderful things have happened again on board the ships where sailors were touched by the Word of God. You can always invite us to tell you about the work. Do you have jackets, sweaters, and other good clothes that you no longer wear? We are happy to receive them for sailors. You can also be a blessing to sailors by knitting woollen hats. We are happy to send you the knitting pattern. It regularly happens that seafarers no longer have travel bags. Should you no longer use a travel bag or cabin bag? Seafarers are extremely grateful for it.
Region IJmuiden – “I insist that your wife will come on board” Just an experience from the IJmond. While Anneke is obliged to stay in the car on the quay due to her health, I ask to speak to the captain on a large freighter with a mainly Filipino crew. He turns out to be a Hindu from India. After my introduction, the captain shows his appreciation that we pay attention to him and his crew in this way. He asks me why Anneke is not coming on board. I tell him about the rheumatism, which prevents her from gripping the wobbly gangway. He responds: "I insist that your wife will come on board, I'll send two men down, to carry her up the gangway!" No sooner said than done.
Once on board, the captain (remember, a Hindu!) appears to have gathered all available crew members in the mess room. Like a school class, but with big guys, they stare at the European woman standing in front of them, an unusual appearance! Anneke tells them about the Love of God and that His eyes go all over the world and see them too, here on board and also their loved ones on the other side of the world. And that He knows about their situation.
Anneke prays for the men. After her "In Jesus' Name, Amen", tears roll... We hand out Sailor Bibles, New Testaments in their own language and give them packages with toothpaste, shampoo, socks and a T-shirt. But also warm fleece jackets and woollen hats. The next destination is the far north of Canada, a harbour with drifting ice, only accessible in our summer. The captain gets an English Bible, I let him read 1 Tim.2:5. “There is only ONE God and ONE Mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself as a ransom for ALL (including Hindus!)”. He looks at me and says, "Nobody has ever said this to me, I mean it's just in The Holy Bible!" Please pray for Anneke's health.
Kind regards and God bless, Jan & Anneke Best
Rotterdam - “will you pray for me”… I am welcomed by two Filipino crew members with "How wonderful that you are coming". Once inside, there are still some curious sailors. There is a pleasant contact with two of them. A young sailor Mario, wants to start with the book "The Bridge". Another, Stephen, nods regularly when we talk about the truths of faith of the Gospel. An encouraging visit.
There are a number of Indonesian seamen on board the second ship of the day. I am welcome on board and in contact with some of them. An Officer from Ukraine and one from Russia gratefully accept literature and one of them a tract and the New Testament in their own language. Later I can leave a New Testament in Indonesian. On the ship before this there was only opportunity to give something through the watchman: It was a brochure and the Bridge in Burmese, a Bible study booklet for the entire crew from Myanmar.
Jason, a Filipino sailor asks "Will you pray for me?" Here too the Gospel could be told, with the help of the "Gospel Cube". That this may lead to a realization that we fall short, through sin, before God. Conviction of sin comes through the Word of God, and the work of the Holy Spirit . Some Indians are also interested in the Good News as they are told, again through the “Gospel Cube”. These sailors remember what they were told at school: the reconciliation with God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Would you pray for: - Wang, a cadet (trainee) from Vietnam, who first heard the gospel. - the Filipino sailors, Mario and Stephen, and Jason on the other ship. Thank you for your sympathy. With warm regards, Wout de Vries
Delfzijl and Eemshaven - the Lord is with us everywhere we go! After a long holiday in England , friend Harm accompanied me to the Eemshaven yesterday afternoon. As a result of a cerebral infarction I am very limited in my functioning. Walking and standing are very difficult because of this, but Harm and I had a good plan. I would stay with the car and Harm would invite crew members to descend to the dock. Harm suggested to go with his camper because then we could take some extra stuff with us. And so we went to the quays. As usual we started in the Eemshaven with prayer to ask for God's guidance.
Then we went in good spirits to the Broekmankade, where I used to visit many ships. But right at the gate we were stopped by a strict guard. Well, a camper is not an everyday occurrence and so we had something to explain. There was a phone call and I had to explain over the phone to a certain chief what we were coming to do. But whatever I told and despite the ticket, we were not admitted. Next time we will try to reach the captains of the moored ships via the agent. The guard who spoke to us also did not want to know anything about the gospel, so we left for the next quay. A little further at the Malt factory was a Liberian freighter. An impressive rust bucket that was unloading iron. The Chinese crew hardly spoke English, but managed to make it clear: “no permission, captain is sleeping”!
Fortunately, we fared better on the next quay. We didn't experience any problems with the entrance gate, but we immediately got a car from the security behind us, asking again what we were up to. Now, however, the reaction was quite different. We were able to explain that we visit ships on behalf of the Havenlicht Foundation and that we have important news for the crew members. A nice conversation with this guard ensued. We were therefore given complete freedom to continue our way. The first ship we visited was a dredger, the Sebastiano Caboto. Friend Harm went on board and got in a very good contact with the captain. The ship in a bottle present was much appreciated and there was also openness to the gospel. Harm was invited to come back .
The next ship was a Danish freighter. Harm had a good chat with an officer and I soon saw some curious Filipino men looking over the railing at the camper. I invited the men to come to the wharf. “I have some presents for both of you”. Soon I had a nice conversation at the camper. More and more Filipino men appeared at the railing. Yes ,they wanted a Tagalog Bible and of course woollen hats and a small wooden cross “Jesus is your Saviour” and that could be read at the back of it. The men said goodbye with many heartfelt thanks. Glad I was able to participate again. Even if it's just on the side lines. I am still looking for a new colleague for Harm, or even better, much better: actually that I can stand and walk normally again.
Yes there is opposition, but in Joshua 1 verse 9 there is a nice encouragement. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”. (Joshua 1:9) Jan Peter Kapteijn
Mission at sea - report from a mobile base Ship2ship seminar on board (8 evenings Oct-Nov) Since March 2021 we have wanted to teach harbour- welfare -work on ships, but it developed into "Church On The Oceans" seminars. Our position now calls for a more varied approach, for which I am now writing 8 new training modules. Ship2ship Kids. Children can also occasionally visit sailors on board in the harbour, especially shortly before Christmas. The children of my church made beautiful Christmas presents in 2019 and delivered them personally to the crews of three coasters in Rotterdam. The sailors were moved, sometimes moved to tears! Other churches showed interest, but then came the pandemic. This year children at the Logos Hope are going to do this. And maybe your church? Field training for outside workers. Due to their language and culture, short-term residents can be invited to participate in our ship visits as field training; especially those who want to set up a 'seamen's mission' in their own country. Partnership with the Church on other ships In Malta the many cruise ships next to us remained closed to us. However, outside and in the book market we were able to meet the crew. We met six naval church pioneers of five ships, five nationalities! They got literature that they long desired and we linked them to believers in Malta. Alternative, other stories : We ran into Turkish students who were really happy with our visit and some books. This was in Malta where access was said to be difficult, but after all we are well dressed professionals and Security signed us up nicely and we were allowed to go. First we pass a brand new Dutch freighter that was named Port State, not so handy when you just come from the shipyard in China. It turned out that the Turkish grain ship had been wandering around for 3 months from India to Somalia, where a target practice terrified them, until they arrived in Egypt, Israel and finally Malta to unload.
In Albania, two competing ferries sail to Italy. Security went out of their way to help us visit the sailors, and we actually met people from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Romania, Greece and Albania. We were able to have people in most languages. We struck up neighbourly friendships with the crew of a moored dredger. We couldn’t talk to them that well, but going back and forth in the engine room paved a way and the exchanging books gives life. Michiel Kramers
Amsterdam, Scheveningen - “he also wanted a Chinese Bible” Jesus said: I AM the Light of the world; whoever follows me will by no means walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. Throughout the summer I was able to visit various ships, sometimes my son also went along. "He's prettier than you," the porter at the harbour entrance said jokingly. During this ship visit we met Chinese sailors again after a long time. The Chinese are often suspicious and curious at the same time.
A younger engineer lingered on deck and told me he has a friend who is a teacher and is also a Christian. “My friend has already told me a lot about Yesu and also about the God the Father and also about a Holy Spirit,” he told me. “What do you think of that?” I asked him. He didn't really know that, maybe my question was a bit too direct, but this was a great opportunity to tell him more about this, he also wanted a Chinese Bible, and we had one for him. On the 2nd ship again a Chinese crew. An elderly Officer examines all my belongings like a customs officer. He hereby says; ‘yes Yesu, we have heard about that before’ but then tells me politely but very firmly; "You have to take all these things with you, nothing can stay on board here, we don't need this, and then get off this ship." That's how it can sometimes go.
On a Dutch ship in Scheveningen, the entire crew turned out to be Christian. Every Sunday a church service is held on the bridge where everyone is present. It was a lot of fun and encouraging to visit this ship. On the app I see a new ship in IJmuiden, at the back of the harbour. Only I've never been to that place. How do I get there? Luckily the 4th gate opens – “God is so great and wonderful” Yes, wide open for me after which I could still board this ship. On board is a very varied crew; Russians, Turks, Georgians and Filipinos. Now last summer I read a travel catalogue about Anatolia and as soon as I tell them about it, they start to glow; yes, that's their country. But then they ask; ‘tell us something about Amsterdam.’ The Russian joins in our conversation and says; ‘yes Amsterdam is the place-to-be!’ Last spring I made a special flyer with photos and facts about Amsterdam, but also an explanation about what real freedom is and telling about the Gospel. This flyer is very popular among the sailors, also on this ship. The cross of Jesus is the only place- to -be for real freedom! Marien Gijsbertsen
Rotterdam –“God is so great and wonderful” Pride and humility. It was a night and day difference. A day with two ships and two completely different encounters. Two Filipino sailors with two completely different attitudes. On a grain ship where I could talk to some sailors during the lunch break, there was little time and openness for deeper conversations. Everyone was more or less rushed. So I packed my things and headed for the exit. There I met James, a friendly sailor at the gangway. We got into a conversation and I asked the question, "If you died right now and you came before God and God asked you the question, 'Why should I accept you?' What would your answer be then?” James replied, "Because I deserve it." Well, for me that was something to swallow!
I have never received this kind of answer until now. Of course he thought he deserved heaven because he had never killed anyone and tried his best to be a good person.
Like Jesus and the rich young man. I used God’s law to show James that he was no good at all in God's eyes and that he needed Jesus as his Saviour. It could be seen that James didn't like this conversation and was too polite to send me away. So I gave him a Bible study book and said, "Think about it."
At 3:00 PM I met a small container ship that was scheduled to depart an hour later. So the chances were small that anyone would have time for a chat. The second mate hugged me and said, “Felix, it's great to have you back! “ Welcome aboard." I went to the dining room and not five minutes later five Filipinos came in. Ray, the First Officer immediately started with a question: "Do you believe that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and had children too?" I explained that I don't believe that and asked if he knew what Jesus had come for. Then I could explain the whole gospel. Touched by the message Ray said in front of the four others: “I am an adulterer. Can God also forgive my guilt?” I was able to encourage him further and also pray for him.
God is so great and wonderful! He breaks the proud hearts and is merciful to the humble. These meetings also showed me once again how vital our work is.
Kind regards, Felix Henrichs
Amsterdam - “Yes, I recognize you from last time” On my way to a ship I suddenly I heard a shout: "Hello Father". On deck I saw Philippines that I had visited several times, waving to me from a great height. It was nice to be able to encourage a cook from Macedonia (Orthodox Christian) in his faith and to draw his attention to Jesus. A French captain was happy with the bottle ship souvenir and showed where it would be placed (glued). He asked me to conduct a church service on board.
Valuable discussions were held with seafarers from, among others, Russia, France, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Ukraine, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Romania, Macedonia, Philippines, Scotland and Poland. A Filipino (63) aboard a large ship, sat lonely in the mess room and I struck up a conversation with him. He was open to God's Word and was happy with the present of a wooden cross. Had tears in his eyes after the prayer. He has been given clothes and of course also a knitted woollen hat! A Filipino and Latvian sailor of two barges were grateful for the various literature and the Filipino also wanted clothes that he could choose himself. He also wanted a Keychain Bible and a beautiful wooden cross and of course a knitted woollen hat! And then this Filipino sailor employed on an Inland Waterways barge said: “I'm so glad you came, you're the first one since the two years that I'm on board. I am always alone”.
Every now and then we receive thank you messages from sailors. Sometimes by email, WhatsApp, Messenger or Facebook. Although we don't do it for that, it is always very encouraging to us! "Welcome aboard" the Ukrainian 1st Officer greeted me warmly and extended his hand. And moments later high on the bridge of the ship the Ukrainian captain responded: "Yes, I recognize you from last time". After a short conversation, he was surprised to receive a bottle ship souvenir and wanted to have his picture taken with the First Officer. I also had Ukrainian material with me, but they especially wanted the Keychain Qr-code Bible.
Then I went to the Filipino crew mess and from afar I was warmly greeted and immediately invited to dinner by the excellent cook with an excellent meal. Opened the Bible with them and we prayed together. In addition to Reading and the Keychain Bible, they also received clothing, knitted woollen hats and a handmade wooden cross. "Thank you very much for coming", they shouted as we left the ship via the steep gangway. Meanwhile, Yvonne diligently continues to knit hats and scarves, among other things, which sailors often ask for. Thank you for your faithful prayer and other expression of compassion!
Yours sincerely, Theo and Yvonne van Zuilekom
The seafarers in this newsletter are actually called differently. For privacy reasons their real name is not mentioned. The photos in this newsletter are posted with permission. Our thanks go to: City Bibles, WIN-NL Seafarers' Ministry, Nederlandse Zeevarenden Centrale, Seamen's Centre Amsterdam, Gospel Recordings Netherlands, Evangelization Foreign Language Service, De Bible Association, Zakbijbelbond, Christian Aid Ministries, Operation Mobilization, Our Daily Bread Ministries and others not mentioned by name, who all contribute in their own specific way to be able to do the work well. We would like to ask you again to continue to pray for the health of the people of Het Havenlicht and their families, but especially for Jan Peter Kapteijn, Hanny de Vries, Anneke Best and Inez de Baat, to be able to continue and persevere in the special work that God has given to do. Would you also pray for open doors and open hearts! We believe in a God of miracles! Thank you so much for all your faithful and precious prayers and other expressions of wonderful compassion! This is how the Lord works through you so that sailors can hear and accept His Word! We are very grateful to the Lord God for the many opportunities to be a blessing to sailors!