From the desk
On this occasion you are receiving our newsletter with a new heading. We hope that you will joyfully read the precious and encouraging stories. If you’d like to respond to any of the articles or wish to know more about the work we are doing, be free to do so and with pleasure we would come to your church or fellowship to tell or show more about our work. On the Website you can find the proper address.
To the sailors it is a great surprise when they learn that we have come aboard with Christmas-parcels. These visits make it much more easy to come in contact with the Captain or the First Officer. This gives us an opportunity to show them that there are people elsewhere who haven’t forgotten about sailors and have gladly donated to this work. We tell that Christmas reminds us of the coming of the Saviour of the world, Jesus Christ, who left the Heavens, the place where God resides, to become man like us, to later bear the punishment of man’s sin, yes, for everybody who believes in Him. So we have this chance to contact a number of ships these days with crews from India and China. A good feeling it is also to notice that the crewmembers sense as it were, that you have come to serve them. Also the giving out of good and neat clothing is part of the work. Some are all the more glad however , when on their asking ,they can be given those small Bibles or literature about spiritual matters. Often I tell them that, when having finished with reading the gospel-material, they should pass it on to a fellow sailor. Lately we could speak to some young naval trainees on board ships, namely young Finnish, Polish, Dutch and Ukrainian men. We listen to their stories and impressions and relate what we can do for them, or rather, what God can do for them. In this way therefore, every time we go and “march for the ports” ,we can tell afterwards of many encounters and adventures we’ve experienced. Sometimes a sailor starts by telling us the story of his life or speaks of other unforeseen things. And our reaction to these encounters? We learn to listen to them, wondering in the meanwhile how we can be of help to them in any way, showing feeling and understanding. Russian sailors were happy to receive the 2019 calendar in their own language. Another sailor, upon receiving his Christmas-parcel said: ” It is not so much what is inside, but more the receiving of it, that is what feels good”. Thus we are privileged to do things during this period of cold, chilly, windy and dark days. The Light of the world has come!
With friendly greetings,
Wout de Vries
On several occasions during the past months I have been to the ports during the evenings. When it is dark the port seems to be a complete different world, so different from our own surroundings. Lights, big and small all around you. It reminded me of the name of our mission, namely Het Havenlicht, and I am glad to be part of its team and tell others about it. On-board one ship I meet up with a complete Indonesian crew, mainly Muslims but also a number of Christians. On a table in the mess room I put down some Indonesian literature and Bibles. Soon I am engaged in a conversation with some crewmembers. Looking at the cook I notice he isn’t the youngest anymore.
I learn that his name is Henkie (little Hank) because the doctor who delivered him into this world was a Dutch doctor and entered this very name on the birth certificate. Since then this name has stuck with him! The crew still knows some Dutch words like GRATIS, meaning - for free- and hearing this word was for me a chance to speak to them about GRACE and ended in talking about our final destination: where are you in eternity?” A sailor with a Muslim background hopes that he goes to heaven and who doesn’t hope to go there? In the New Testament in Titus chapter 2 you read the words: “the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men”. So everyone who looks to Jesus in faith may be sure of his destination. On another ship I meet a Turkish crew. The First Officer looks in a sceptical way at the cross on my safety helmet and says: “Sorry Sir, we are all Muslim, so I don’t know why you have come aboard”.
I had no quick answer to that but then countered: ” You are people just like me” , and the men agreed to that, after which I could stay for a cup of tea. We sat down in the mess room and a first conversation started during which I carefully laid out some Turkish Bibles on the table together with some tracts. One of the sailors started by saying that he appreciates the freedom in Amsterdam. The third Mate tells me that here in the streets you can actually smell the freedom. But what is real freedom and when are we really free? In the meanwhile a young trainee Officer takes a large Bible from the table. It is also surprising to notice that small children’s Bibles are popular with the seamen, something you would not expect among sailor men and on this ship several copies were taken. It is also obvious that , to them, just talking to someone from outside gives the sailor relief in some way. In leaving, a person takes my hand and puts something in it: a small chain with a nice tag attached to it.
On board a brand new ship the Philippine captain complains to me about the bow of his ship. It has a strange form through which manoeuvring the ship becomes difficult. “you must get used to it!”. The ship has arrived to take in a cargo of scrap metal and has as destination Vietnam. “Within a year the iron will come back to you in the form of new cars!” , the captain says jokingly pointing to the new car terminal on the other side of the port. His older brother is also on board as an AB. For years now they have been together and apart from some brotherly quarrels and the difference in rank, they are of support and help to one another. The crew of the ship is completely Philippino and I hear that all belong to the Christian faith. Through the daily routine on board the ship however their Christian background is almost forgotten. I give them Bibles in their own language and let them read aloud some verses. After handing them over I am asked to sign the inside of the cover and add also some encouraging words. Sailors are so special to visit and the crews are so varied. The whole world passes by in visiting them. Port mission is therefore a mission right at your front door! It is the type of mission work that appeals to my heart, so visiting ships is much to my liking; however prayer is so needed. I am a member of a prayer group in my church where we regularly pray for the Havenlicht Port Mission, thanking God for it. I am so happy that it is there and would like to ask you to continue to pray for the Port Mission and the work that we may do.
Hearty greetings from,
The medical treatment of Anneke is finished. She is now in the recovery period. Step by step she moves forward. Our ship visits are still limited, but we are hopeful that this will soon improve. Because of the available text space, just an example. In IJmuiden there is a bulk carrier with Philippino’s crew under Turkish leadership. Anneke keeps praying in the car while I go on board with a bag full of Bibles and reading material in Turkish and Tagalog. The young Turkish captain, in his thirties of the fast type, is in discussion in the deck office. I explain briefly why I came, namely to bring Jesus on board. The captain responds with some pride: "I have distanced myself from every religion, I am Agnost". Just for the sake of clarity: an Agnost is someone who does not believe in a "higher power". Nevertheless he wants to talk to me, he leaves his conversation partners behind and walks with me to the crew's messroom. There is no one there and there is a whole conversation. The captain asks if I ever saw God. My answer: No, not yet.
How can I still believe in Him. Yes, I know for sure, I am convinced of the existence of God and that Jesus, God's Son, is my Saviour. And that the Bible is the Word of God. Hmmm, so you (me) believe in something or someone you cannot see? Yes indeed. The captain explains that he does believe in "Positive Energy". But, .... You cannot see positive energy either, and yet you believe in it? The captain looks at me and laughs a little sheepishly.
I give him a Turkish Bible, put my hand on his shoulder and pray to God, my Father, if He wants to reveal himself to the captain, from His Word, in Jesus' Name. Then he goes back to his conference… In the meantime the messroom is starting to fill up, it is dinner time. I pray for a number of Filipino men, hand in hand. And gives them bibles and literature and cards with a Bible text. A sailor walks with me to the car on the quay and Anneke gets a bag full of clothes and hats. He himself gets a backpack with personal items. We pray for him. Pray for this young Turk, that he will discover that there is indeed a higher power and that he will accept Him as his personal Saviour.
Thanks in advance, we wish you God's blessing,
Jan and Anneke Best
For us it is now the busiest period of the year. Yvonne is so much engaged these days with the sorting out and packing of the contents of Christmas parcels (bags actually), all suited in some way for the sailors. It is not just the handing out of these bags for it is always accompanied with a short Bible message . “What is your name again?” I hear. “Ah, I know, it is Theo. We know each other from a year ago!”. In this way I was greeted one day. Even the captain comes to see us, saying: ”Why do you come only now?” Then on board this ship and in this special room we had many a fine conversation and much of our literature changed hands. On board a spacious passenger ship I was immediately recognised by a Nepalese Security Officer. He had been working on a sister ship a year before. It touches one’s heart to be received in this way. After all, don’t we bring Glad but also Important Tidings aboard the ships? Bibles and Bible parts in Hindi, Indonesian, Hiligaynon, Cebuano, Tamil, Tagalog, English, Nepali, Albanese, Greek, and it all being received with a thankful heart!
We were able to speak to many sailors and could encourage many of them, coming from Indonesia, Nepal, India, the Philippines, the Ukraine, Lithuania, Rumania, Poland and of course the Netherlands. Naturally we again handed out many items of good clothing like jackets, jumpers, trousers, shoes, knitted woollen hats and much more. We as evangelists and port chaplains not only preach the Gospel with words but also in deeds, but it is a side activity. Bringing the Word is our main commission. I also want to mention the bottle ship souvenirs and wooden crosses from the hands of our co-worker, Gert Huisman that so often stir the sailors heart. On these small craftworks are also special texts which are always read carefully.
With warm greetings and a hearty thanks for your faithful support,
Theo en 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: “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 and Inez de Baat. 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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