NEWSLETTER AUTUMN-EDITION 2018 Nr. 154
From the desk
There is always enough work to do for people of the Havenlicht Port Mission, meaning not only those in the foreground but also those working behind the scenes. Without them the work couldn’t be done. Would you like to know more about us? We’d be glad to tell you more, be it in your church, fellowship or in your house-group.
Delfzijl en Eemshaven
In the Eemshaven port many of those typical huge workships can be found and the first ship that I visited was registered under the flag from Cyprus. It was moored at the Emma- quay. On the bridge I spoke to the Captain for nearly half an hour. He told me the ship’s crew was a complete Greek one and that hardly anyone to none at all could speak English. My knowledge of the Greek language is not worth speaking of either. I had once made an effort to learn this language but through certain circumstances it remained with this first attempt. So there was nothing much I could do there . The second ship was moored to the one I was on, so climbing to the bridge to introduce myself a Norwegian Officer came to meet me and he offered to show me around the ship. Most of the men were busy with their job and so we came to the watchman there on duty. Some Philippinos were standing close by and a number of them were just about to start on a painting job. However, with these men I could have a short conversation about the Christian faith. The Officer who had accompanied me stayed on to listen and I saw that he was interested. At a certain moment I asked him if he was a Christian. “No, no” was his answer. “As a child I went to church with my parents, but I no longer am a believer”. To the Philippinos it was rather strange to hear this, all the more when the Officer refused to accept an English Bible. But then he suggested to me to come back later at 3 o’clock, for then most of the crew would have a short tea or coffee break. I was glad for this invitation and accepted it. This left me with some more time to visit other ships. But first of all I wanted to see the ship close by where I once had a lengthy conversation with the watchman. Once, after a visit there I had forgotten to return the boarding pass which had been laying in my car all the time and it was now the moment to bring it back.There happened to be another watchman on duty this time, but like the time before we again had a long talk about the islands of Philippines and about the Christian faith. I then learnt that this man, working on the ship was also the owner of a nice holiday resort. He and his wife had apartments to let with a “sea-view “. I was shown many nice pictures of beautiful apartments and the surrounding countryside. Belonging to the area were also some rice fields. So the watchman was the proprietor of a hotel, a rice-farmer and a sailor! As we talked I was invited to even come and stay there with his wife- all for free. Should that ever come to pass, I first must discuss this at home with my wife. But is shows how hospitable the Philippino sailors are. After a short prayer, handing over a Bible and exchanging our E-mail addresses, I went back to my first ship. The watchman brought me to the mess room and although I was a bit early, the cook welcomed me all the same and I was given a cup of coffee that tasted sóó good!. Sometime later the crewmembers started to come in, also a woman. In looking back we had a good time with the sailors. In all frankness I could tell about the grace and love of the Saviour and the men listened attentively. In the end I prayed for all present. Then it was time to open my bags and to pass on Bibles, bible studies and woollen hats which were gratefully accepted. Just before leaving a few snapshots were taken. In saying goodbye I heard them say: “We hope to see you again”. It is great to tell and witness about Jesus and to encourage sailors to start having regular bible studies among themselves even if it is with one or two others. When I got home a parcel had arrived containing bottle ships, sent by Gerrit Huisman. It also contained a magazine about the village of Sliedrecht. During our last meeting as Havenlicht workers Gerrit learnt that José her grandfather originally came from Sliedrecht. So, looking back on my day in the port of Eemshaven, it is a day to be thankful for. God is good.
Jan Peter en José Kapteijn.
After having been to a great number of different Medical Doctors, my wife Anneke heard them say every time: ”Madam, there is nothing wrong with you. Stop bothering us, it is only some illness you are convinced of by yourself”. Now at last the cause of Anneke’s illness has been detected. Her jawbone seems to contain quite a few (rest) infections/inflammations which have had a bad influence on the functioning of her body. The treatment she is now undergoing may well last over a period of six months. Please continue to pray for her that the awful moments of pain will stop and disappear; then as a team can we pick up our proper task again in visiting the ships in port. Today we are driving to a large Bulk carrier in the port of IJmuiden.
Anneke stays in the car close to the pier and intercedes in prayer for me while I go aboard. First I have to wade through layers of coal smudge, iron ore and dirty water before reaching the ship. My safety boots are up to their task however, so that is no problem. The gangway has 64 steps. I firmly hold on to my large shopping bag full of Bibles in the Tagalog language. A Philippine sailor brings me to the elevator to deck 8. It is just under the navigation bridge where the Captain has his quarters. On entering his spacious cabin my safety boots leave a pattern on the carpet. I introduce myself and hand over a present in the form of a bottle ship. Then I let him read Philippians 4: 6 and 7 and draw his attention to the fact that this scripture only functions when you are “in Christ“. You need to know Him as your Saviour. In leaving I ask him if he wants me to pray for him. “Yes please “. In the mess room I pray for a number of sailors. We all stand in a circle asking the Lord to be with them in their personal circumstances and to be with their families on the other side of the world. One of them accompanies me to the car in order to receive a bag of clothing from Anneke. Two months ago he had become the father of a son. He hopes to be home for leave in the month of November to hold “Sam “ in his arms for the first time. We pray for him and his wife and of course for little Sam( uel). That little one, would he ever come to know that a strange couple in Europe once prayed for him with his father standing close by with tears in his eyes? Since 2006, on a yearly basis, we visit around 130 ships. Now it is come up to 26 this year, it already being in the month of September. Would you please continue to pray for us that we as a team can come up to full strength again regarding our ship visitation? The “fields are white “and still there is time! Already a “thank you”, wishing you God’s Blessing.
Jan en Anneke Best.
Jim from Myanmar hears these words for the first time: God loves you. Jesus died for you. When you believe and accept Jesus in your heart , it gives you not only saving grace but also peace and joy in your heart…- Jim receives a booklet called: The Bridge in the Burmese language. We suggest to him to take time to quietly think things over of what he has heard and to start reading short verses from his booklet called : the bridge between God and man. With Ray from India I had a short conversation about the immense love of God for people, including himself. That was new to him. Jesus is the way to God. To follow Him, that is what matters. He receives ( in Hindi) a booklet about the Bible, teaching to surrender oneself to Jesus and to follow Him. Ali and Carlo on board another ship, also from India, both receive a New Testament in their language, (Hindi). Ricky and Jerry are both sailors from the Philippines. It was so encouraging for me to hear from Ricky that he follows Christ and that Jerry also continues in the Christian faith. On still another ship some Turkish seafarers seemed to be interested in the Gospel. They both wanted a New Testament to read in it for themselves. With two of them I could have a short conversation. They were surprisingly open during our talk.
I enjoy visiting ships and thank you dearly for your prayers concerning this work.
Wout de Vries.
The President of Syria once said that he considers the sailors of his country to be his most loyal subjects. Even though they have enough opportunities to flee Syria, they keep on returning to their country. Now in the last Summer period I again met sailors from Syria. Some of them have not been on leave for a long time because when they go home they have to report for their National Service in Syria. So this so-called loyalty is not always true. It is tragic matter, all the same. Most sailors look forward to their period of leave but these men try to have their contract on board extended. In this hopeless situation they often start thinking about the deeper things of life: what is the meaning of it, why is there so much suffering in the world? On a warm Summer evening I visit a ship from Syria. We remain on deck and a conversation is started on different subjects during which I place some biblical literature on a nearby bollard. Finding a proper opening for my witnessing is always a struggle., but I see that some sailors take away some literature. If we want to bring people in contact with the Gospel, I think it is important to have a sense of feeling in order to relate to your specific group. With our port-mission activities this is difficult, because our encounters with sailors are mostly short and you mostly meet sailors only once. Still, we shouldn’t let ourselves be discouraged by this, for aren’t we servants of a Mighty Sender?! At the gangway I meet somebody of my own age. He also wants a Bible. Then we exchange some data and thanks to the Social Media we now have regularly mail contact. So, Social Media has also its merits! During a visit on a smaller ship, one which I visit more often, I had , on the rear deck, an opportunity to explain the Gospel to an elderly Albanese cook, telling him first what it means to me and saying that the
Gospel is also for him. He reacted with: “Wow, why didn’t you tell me about it before? “ Good question. Maybe I should be a bit more outspoken next time. On a huge ship of nearly 300 meters I speak with a few Philippinos. The atmosphere is good. I’m invited to have a meal with them. The Bibles and biblical literature are well accepted. The somewhat older Chief engineer is like a father figure to the young sailors. Two months ago one of them had become a father and he proudly shows me a photo. His contract finishes in two months’ time and then he can see his son. Another sailor tells me his “passport to heaven” has been signed and that he “casts” his cares and needs on Jesus every day. For me it is the first time that I hear a sailor give such a personal testimony and I find it great! I encourage the men to also hold bible studies among themselves so that they can grow in faith. A special method has been developed for this purpose by an experienced port missionary from Hamburg. It has started to get a bit colder and on leaving the ship the woollen hats are practically grasped from my hands. With most ships we must climb the seemingly endless stairs of the gangway to be able to get on board. You need to watch your steps therefore but last time it caused me to think of the “Jacob’s ladder” from the Scriptures Here Jacob had to flee and was encouraged by God in a dream. The comparison isn’t quite the same and life on board is certainly not heaven on earth. I am not an angel either but many sailors away from home are suffering from homesickness. We in turn then may be of encouragement by climbing up to them to bring the good news and reflect a beam of light from Jesus to the seamen in some way.
“When do you come back to tell us a story again? Have you eaten yet? Go first and have something to eat! How good my friend, that you are here again. Do you have a Bible for me? Yes, I would like to have a Bible. How glad we are that you have come. Hello, how are you doing? I recognise you from another ship where I was on last year.” Here some examples of the words seamen use when you come aboard. In this bulletin just a few reports. We could again encourage many sailors from all corners of the earth with God’s Word, bringing the glad and important message of Saving Grace. Many were so thankful for our visit: “Till next time”. We hear this so often! Twenty eight sailors from Peru- these men were so open to the Gospel. Maybe also because the captain was a Christian. He was glad that some attention was given to his men. I have been back four times to these hospitable Peruans and their special captain. Many asked for a Bible and in the end I took care that all of them could receive a copy of the Bible in their own language. Besides that, there was also other material offered like books, CD’s, woollen hats and clothing. Had many talks with them, praying for them afterwards. God touches the hearts of men!! It is quite something to be embraced by Peruan seamen. I have given the cook and the captain a souvenir bottle ship. Other crew men were happy to receive a handmade wooden cross made by Gerrit Huisman. In closing a hearty thanks for your faithful prayers and other tokens of fellowship.
Theo en Yvonne van Zuilekom.
A few days ago I was in a mess room on board a large Container ship, waiting there for the crew. At ten o’clock there is a coffee break, a time period in which, normally speaking, you have a chance to talk to people. But this morning nobody turned up. I was on the point of leaving the ship to go to the next when I received a WhatsApp message from Nadine Breitmoser, the wife of my colleague Ecki in Bremerhaven.
She was aboard a Cruise ship and had met Toni there, the Chief Security man, from the Philippines. She had been talking with him and during the conversation had discovered that they both knew me. Six years ago the Ocean Countess, a small Cruise ship, was in port here for several months as a floating hotel to host the crew of a big crane ship of Heerema. I had received permission to visit the ship and the first person I encountered was Roy. There and then Roy asked me if I would lead the Bible study group every Sunday morning. This I was pleased to do and in this way a group of men gathered in the mess room for nearly four months with Roy attending most times. After that period I had never seen Roy again. Now he was on this ship in Bremerhaven and had met Nadine. He told her that six years ago, on board the Ocean Countess through the bible studies, he had come to a living faith in Christ. In our ministry among seafarers, you mostly do not see the fruits of your work. But sometimes God gives you an encouragement just at the time you need it. This all being to the Glory of God.
The joy in visiting the seafarers at the Port of Rotterdam
It was early Monday morning that I received series of emails from ISPS announcing the approval of our visits, not only to one but to more than five ships in the Port of Rotterdam. An excitement fills my heart, not only to meet up again with Bro. Wout and Sis. Susie but also to share about Christ with the seafarers, especially to my ‘kababayan’ (countrymen) since I have not been in visiting ships for such a long time. So we pooled into Bro. Wout’s car and started our day’s mission with a prayer.
We first visited a full-Turks crew along the haven in Vlaardingen. Though we did not know what to expect we were confident enough that the Holy Spirit will lead us the way. Two OS met us at the gangway and the other one led us to the mess hall. We were just in time at their 10 o’clock break. So one by one was coming to take a break. Around six of them gathered around us, curious about what are we there for. They thought that we have something to sell or offer, some were asking if we have telephone cards. The room was full of smoke. All of them were smoking and I was worried about Sis. Susie’s health. The TV was on, some of them were watching a football match. We were watching too. Yes, that was a goal! Then the player who scored run around with joy in the field and raised his shirt, pointing what was written in his chest …to our surprise, ’GOD is GOOD!’ Sis Susie and I saw it! Oops! Was that a sign that we should do now our mission? There were still three seamen left in the room. Break time was over! Then two stayed because they were not on duty. Still watching TV while talking with us at the side. A small voice in me, says…be bold! share now about Christ and make Him known to these seamen. Bro. Wout handed some reading materials in Turks. And the younger one asked, what is this? I answered him with a question, do you know Jesus? We felt the leading of the Holy Spirit and we were able to share the gospel with both of them. A good teamwork among us three, when one was sharing, the rest were interceding in prayers. “And the gospel must first be preached to all nations” (Mark13:10).
We went to the second ship, but we did not stay long since there’s a meeting with the company. So we just left some trackers and had a short talk with the OS at the gangway. We proceeded to the third ship, a full-Filipino crew. We joined them for lunch. Hot ‘Sinigang’ soup and fish were served, a very typical Filipino dish combination. Each of us, Bro. Wout, Sis. Susie and I seated next to a seaman. Grabbing the opportunity to share the gospel while eating and listening to their stories. And that was a good entry point to share the ‘true’ gospel to them. I emphasized ‘True’ because even though the Philippines is the only Christian country in Southeast Asia, there is still a big number who doesn’t have any personal relationship with Christ. Claiming to be Christian but not true followers of Christ. With the leading of the Holy Spirit, we did have a short exhortation and a very good exchange of thoughts, insights into the ‘true’ gospel. We discussed John 3:3 Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” "For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life”. (3:16) and “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.(3:36). We ended with: ‘We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute”. (1Corinthians 4:10-18).
Around 2.30 o’clock in the afternoon, we went up to our 4th ship. We met the ‘mayor’ (C/Cook), a Filipino. We shared some tracks and a short sharing while having our coffee. Towards the end of the day, we passed by one full Indian-crew ship, this was the 5th one. We just stayed in the gangway, talked with the OS and gave some trackers. It was indeed a wonderful day for our team. We ended our day with thanksgiving, a day full of joy and gladness. We were so blessed to be a blessing to others.
A real joy when you were able to share His Word to the seafarers in the Port of Rotterdam.
“Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1Corinthians 10:31) To God all the glory and honor!
Doris A. Lua.
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 for the health of all co-workers but especially for:
Anneke Best and Jan Peter Kapteijn. They physically go through a difficult period and need our prayers!
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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