Introduction How thankful the sailors were for our visits. Months longer than normal they stay aboard their ships. Several times we were asked to come back. In this newsletter you meet up with a new co-worker in the port of Dordrecht. We trust that you’ll read these wonderful stories with pleasure. Should you wish to react or want to know more about the work that we do, you can contact us. We look forward to visiting your church, fellowship or prayer group to tell about our work. Do you have any jumpers or coats or other clothing you no longer wear? We gladly accept such goods because sailors are really happy to receive them.
Rotterdam - more than ever I am glad that we have “paper evangelists” with us We do appreciate it that there are people who stand with us as workers in the ports. All of us hope that the time will come that we can do more than is allowed. We know that there is suffering among the sailors on-board with pain and difficulties. At the same time we are grateful for so much what we do have and cam do, sharing it with others.
To many sailors it is very special when they notice somebody aboard who is there just for them. It makes me think of Iqbal who has been a seaman for only three months. Then I think of Emerson who called in at Rotterdam with his friends after a long journey from the Far East. I want to mention Maxim who told me his mother passed away and was buried while he was aboard his ship. There was Brian who shared with me that he is missing his family greatly, especially his teenage daughter. In closing I wish to mention a young man by the name of Nikita, training to be an Officer.
More than ever I am happy to know that we have “paper evangelists” with us. They stay aboard when we are gone. On behalf of the seafarers I thank everyone being in sympathy with our work and praying for the port missionaries.
With heartily greetings, Wout de Vries
Delfzijl and Eemshaven - In telling about Jesus we bring Good Tidings aboard the ships In the midst of all the port activity around me, I stop the car at a quiet spot to pray for the leading of the Holy Spirit. I ask God to lead me to the right ships, to bring people on my path to whom I can speak about Him.
Near the Beatrix pier my path was blocked by two huge cranes, busy at work unloading the cargo ship Ameland. I just couldn’t get past them to go to my ship. That’s a pity for Ameland stands also for one of my favourite Dutch Islands. Then I drove to the Malt pier where I found the Elandgracht. Also a nice name of course although Eland ( Dutch for Moose) didn’t rouse any feelings in me.
But what counts is speaking to the shipmates. First there was this conversation with an Ukrainian and a Russian. Both gentlemen confessed to the Faith but the Ukrainian felt more inclined to be a gnostic. I was able to witness to them that God knows about us, personally as individuals and that He longs for us to seek after Him. In spite of their own way of believing, both men gratefully accepted the Interactive Bibles. I also offered them a proper thick woollen hat each. When I asked if they could pass on some literature to other crewmembers, two Philippinos were called. These men told us about their family, wanting to work hard in order for their children to have a good education and have a good life later. We spoke about the power of prayer and that God is always there to help them.
They also received a Bible and literature. The rest of the woollen hats were distributed among their colleagues. A nice bottle ship souvenir will be placed in the galley. We said goodbye in a happy atmosphere and I hope to meet them again in the future. The most important work we do is encouraging sailors with the message of the Gospel. In telling about Jesus we bring good news, forgiveness and hope instead of doctrines and strict rules aboard. One sailor in confidence told me he couldn’t just understand the Bible: ” It is a too difficult book for me”. We are privileged to give out Bibles in an easy to understand language like the Interactive Bible. These are full of QR codes pointing to simple explanations through videos etc. I also refer to the website easyenglish.bible. This particular website explains in simple words the complete Bible. All this material and helpful methods is great of course, but the aim is to bring people closer to their Heavenly Father. Prayer and intersession is so necessary for our sailor friends.
God is good! Jan Peter Kapteijn
Amsterdam - Only Jesus can give real peace Motionless the big Tanker sits there on the smooth waters. It is now hard to imagine, but barely two days ago this ship was battling the storms in the Gulf of Biscay. The Indian crewmember tells me that the ship was listing up to 40 degrees. The Engineer was even flung against the wall of the mess room, leaving him with a head wound and some badly hurt fingers. When I arrived on-board he had just left the ship to go to the Amsterdam hospital for medical treatment. I have met this Engineer on previous occasions and we get along quite well. We have a good mutual understanding and shared many a joke. A pity that I missed him but medical treatment is more important. He considers himself to half a Hindu and half a Catholic, a somewhat strange mix but in a land with over 3 million gods, things like that are common. Pray for the Engineer that he will accept Jesus for hundred % as the Way, the Truth and the Life.
I visit a small coaster on a regular basis. On-board is a mixed crew of Albanians, Egyptians and Ukrainians. On deck a sailor is busy sealing the hatches with a hardening foam as an extra safeguard. The journey to England is planned for the evening or night and the forecast is : very bad weather. It is also the topic of the conversation during lunch. The captain is even thinking of sailing the next day. During a recent storm the ship nearly sank in the North Sea and the crew was taken from the ship by a marine helicopter. The captain stayed aboard and managed to keep the ship on course and all ended well. CS Lewis writes the following about a ship in a storm: ‘When we see a ship in a storm we are first of all concerned about the wellbeing of the crew and the cargo. We also worry about the course the ship is sailing, so preventing it to run into another ship or crash into rocks. But the real question one could ask is, why is the ship sailing there, where does it come from and what is its destination’.
The same goes for us for often we are too busy with our problems and responsibilities and we forget that Jesus says:” I am the Bread of Life”. During lunch I try to explain this to the crew.” Wow, you are a real philosopher!”, an Egyptian sailor cries out, but I tell him this is not my thinking but it is all written in the Bible. He receives from me an Arabian Children’s Bible. It sounds strange but sailors love reading Children’s Bibles.Then the topic changes for the Egyptian sailor lives next to a place of pilgrimage in Egypt where Joseph and Mary lived with little Jesus when they had to flee for Herod. He tells me about it. Well, how lucky we are that Jesus doesn’t need a place where one should worship Him. He is not bound to a place but wants to live inside us, so that we can worship Him from our hearts. Pray for this Egyptian sailor that he will allow Jesus to enter his heart. That evening I noticed that this ship ventured out over the English Channel and all ended well.
One evening Custom Officers pull me aside: wow- a private car, in the Docks in the evening, looks suspicious! But luckily the Bibles are not seen as contraband and both gentlemen wish me luck. The Russian Mate of the ship moored at the Pier finds it rather hilarious and says: “They even bother angels now”. I am not an angel but the ships-visitors of the Havenlicht portmission are indeed messengers. Bad news can be heard worldwide but we are privileged to bring Good News aboard the ships. It is certainly not fake-news but 100% reliable. Only this Truth can make sailors really free.
A heartily greeting from Marien Gijsbertsen
Dordrecht - I understand now why God opened this door on the ship My name is Fabio Jefferson, I come from Brazil. I have had good experiences in my life, mainly as a sailor aboard ships and seeing God’s work in my life and in the lives of colleagues. In 2015 when I still lived in Brazil, I prayed to God, asking Him to bless me with a job. I had not been unemployed for long. I wanted to be employed on a Cruise ship. It worked and soon I could work on a ship. The following year when already I had been employed on an Italian MSC Cruise ship, I started evangelising among colleagues with simple words like: ”Jesus loves you” and “ only He saves”. I evangelised among Brazilians as well as Italians, Indonesians, Philippinos, Ukrainians and men from India. One occasion I shall never forget: I was once in the kitchen and suddenly a young Ukrainian came to me. I told him about the Gospel and said: ”Jesus loves you” Then he asked: ”Does Jesus love me?”. “Yes!”, I said and continued with him about Jesus Christ. I noticed that he paid attention to what I was saying. Later he became a good friend of mine. When the Brazilian season ended in April 2016 I went on a ship to Europe. In Invergordon I went to the Church of Scotland. In this church I met several brothers in Christ and was able to take along Bibles and gospel tracts to hand out to my friends aboard the ship. I enjoyed doing this.
When we arrived in Bergen-Norway, I visited the Bergen Seaman’s Mission. There I met an English missionary by the name of Paul, who spoke Portuguese. In 2016 I visited Bergen twice and have always taken Bibles with me to give to my colleagues who worked on the ship. Then, in 2017-2018, the ship went to the Mediterranean under a new contract. Then I missed the Seaman’s club because at the ports we called in there were none.
In 2019 during my last contract, our ship ,the MSC Precioza, was to go to Northern Europe. Again I visited the Bergen Seaman’s Mission. Like always I took Bibles with me to take to my companions. Bibles in Spanish, English, Indonesian etc. Some of my friends were non-believers, people like Hindus, Muslims, even some Deists. To my regret I hadn’t seen missionary Paul in Bergen there. I was able to contact him however through somebody else who works there. I talked to Paul of what had happened to me. Because of my contract now expiring, I planned to travel to the Netherlands because of my relation with a Christian Dutch girl. Then, to my joy, he told me about the Mission to Seamen in Holland. If I could work together with them, I must contact Theo van Zuilekom. And so it happened and today I am happy with this great work. I now see and understand why God opened this door on my last ship in order to help me in the future, also here in Holland.
God bless you all, Fábio Jefferson
Logos Hope - a Swiss Pocketknife On the Logos Hope there is prayer, there is an outreach to communities, there is equipping people for life- and is like a Swiss pocketknife.
A big new group. An earlier group of workers had just finished their training when the next group of workers were already climbing the gangway. This 60 person gang of new people stands for a lively future and continuation the coming years.
What is the next port of call? This we sometimes learn only when we are underway. What port will give us permission and what about their covid-restrictions? After Kingstown we have now arrived at Curacao, our very port and country we call on for our major yearly maintenance check. This of course is in combination with various activities on land.
A prayer-room for stranded seafarers. From our ship we have seen dozens of lonely Cruise ships float bye as we passed. By participating in prayer-meetings plus being in contact with fellow missionaries in the ports ,I know what a burden for sailors there is. We have not forgotten them. In the prayer-room of Logos Hope you are confronted with the reality in which the sailors find themselves and their despair. Prayer for them was intense and not without tears.
A book exhibition on land? Helping out in a village? More than two months we were in St. Vincent, one of the least prosperous of the countries in the Caribbean and in the beginning free of Corona. To our regret all had changed before we could go. Many plans didn’t work out: no bookstalls to plan and no teaming up with churches etc.
Healed! You need not walk far to meet people here. People are easy to contact, even sharing burdens when joining in prayer and appealing to God for sick family-members. In this way I prayed with someone whose family member was in a critical condition in hospital. “From now on: firmly believe, this is more than a ritual !” A week later I came to inform how things were and Praise God, the one for whom we had prayed so earnestly was present there, healthy and well!
Starting modules for building-projects. “New Style” is the word to find out where a need is locally and then looking for a way of practical help. In this manner we could assist people these last weeks who had needs: a house to build, a school library or helping out with on-line teaching. On-board also a program has been developed to help with adult language training. In the meanwhile this has been realised. Our setting , combined with action, creates hope which in turn generates life!
Region IJmuiden - a rucksack with Bibles and literature pressing on your back Christmas 2020 is already behind us. Our large kitchen is still partly stacked with the Christmas parcels Anneke made for poor sailors. The linen bags contain for instance: a towel, shampoo, toothpaste and a toothbrush, a Sailor Bible and Children’s Bible for the family at home and some candy. Because of Anneke her physical condition, our ship visits fall far short of the ones we made in the past years. We do what we can, the Lord knows about it. To our wonderment present restrictions in Holland, because of the corona crisis, seem to have little effect hindering port mission activities. Still, it remains a rather difficult situation with your facemask on, to climb 60 stairs of a wobbly gangway to later tell your story as to why you want to visit the ship. While mounting the stairs you need to watch your step, balancing between the thickly greased handrail and steel cables of the gangway lifting system, not forgetting that large empty space below between the deck and the ship. All the more, your rucksack with Bibles and literature pressing on your back is also a fact to be reckoned with.
When everything goes well and you finally step on deck, your chest is heaving for air which you need again when you try to speak behind a mask some simple English phrases, enough for Asians to understand! The majority of sailors which we speak to are (a) Philippinos, of which worldwide some 800.000 to 1000.000 have this nationality and (b) The Chinese. These crews, after greeting them with “Ni Hao” ( hallo) and “Jesu Aini “( Jesus loves you) are mostly very open to the Word of God. Philippinos are, on the average, really dear people. They find it amazing that Europeans pay attention to them without asking anything in return. Also, they find it strange that you take the trouble, in spite of weather conditions, and observing how you slowly make your way through a messy and dirty wharf-site grimy with coal dust or iron ore, that you come to see them. When after a visit you offer to pray for them and their family members, they all in surprise say: “OH yes please”. Well, continue to pray for us and in particular for Anneke her health.
With heartily greetings and God bless you, Jan and Anneke Best
Rotterdam - a service, a conversation and a conversion Together with our new volunteer Peter I was aboard a Bulk carrier with a cargo of wheat from Australia. The crew was a complete Philippino one and they received us in a hospitable manner. Right from the beginning we had good talks about the Gospel. We were invited to have dinner with them. Not as is normal in the crew’s mess room but in the Officer’s mess where the Captain and his Officers dine. There we met the Ships Master who was very happy with our visit and right away asked us if we could hold a service aboard.
That Sunday afternoon I not only had my colleague Peter with me but René as well. With the three of us and a large part of the crew we sang a few songs and after a “trial run” everybody joined in enthusiastically. The Philippinos, when it comes to it, are quite a music minded people. Then I preached about John chapter three: the meeting with Jesus and Nicodemus. The men listened attentively when I proclaimed the Gospel. We also had an intensive conversation with the Second Officer during the evening meal. The week following, René and Peter visited the ship again and had a talk with the Third Officer, who had quite some questions. René explained the Gospel once more and made it clear to him that not through good deeds you can come close to God, but only through Jesus, the perfect sacrificial Substitute, in the Officer’s place. He understood then to trust Jesus as his Saviour.
When I entered the ship a few days later, we had a good conversation. He acknowledged that he now had learnt that he is saved through faith and not by means of his good deeds. The Third Officer had come to a saving knowledge through the work of the Holy spirit and He had used us as a team in Rotterdam.
To Him all the glory! Felix Henrichs
Amsterdam - Thank you very much and give our regards to your wife In the beginning of the year we at home had still 20 Christmas parcels left and of course wanted to give them out. One morning I had it on my heart to go to a certain ship. Also Yvonne agreed I should go. When I stepped aboard I was happy to hear that there were exactly 20 crewmembers. How content were these men from Latvia, Russia, the Ukraine and the Philippines for they planned to celebrate Christmas the next day. Isn’t that great! Again a perfect timing with God.
Much happiness was there also aboard a huge Tanker. I heard later they considered me to be an Angel of God. How grateful they were with the white bags that Yvonne had prepared the Friday before. The complete crew received it as a gift. Also the warm clothing was very welcome. I could pray with some of the men.
The Interactive Sailor Bibles and Qr-code keychain Bibles were much appreciated. I reacted to a feeling inside to also go to a river barge. Imagine, the ship had only one single Philippino crewmember aboard and he hadn’t seen his wife and children for over a year, all because of the restrictions. Another ship with a crew of forty aboard. The men were from Russia, Poland, the Ukraine and Croatia, Notwithstanding the work pressure they gave me a warm welcome. The ship had only been in port one hour and so I offered them in a way , a “welcoming present”. I told them that Yvonne, my wife, had packed the gifts personally. “Really?” was their reaction. “Thank you very much and give our regards to your wife”. I also had the opportunity to have a pastoral talk with someone and could pass on some Interactive Bibles and Keychain QR Bibles. “Very interesting” I heard them say. The First Officer then said:” I hope to see you again”. God is at work.
Thank you for your prayers and other tokens of fellowship! Theo and Yvonne van Zuilekom
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? 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.
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