NEWSLETTER AUTUMN-EDITION 2017 Nr. 150
From the desk
Lots of things have happened again in this past period, but only a fraction can be told in this issue. For that reason we would like to come to your church, fellowship or contact -group to tell more about this great mission work being done among sailors of almost every nationality. Do feel free to contact us!
Region IJmuiden / Summer 2017
In the Spring issue of our Newsletter I wrote in my report about the health situation of Anneke. It prevented us from following our calling, namely to visit sailors on-board their ships. This Summer didn’t bring any change in this situation except that the spells of dizziness have gone- Praise the Lord! However, other complaints concerning her health have risen. A well-known specialist who has made quite some study in this field of medicine, has no explanation yet as to what is wrong with Anneke’s troubles, mostly concerning her head. During the past months we have had medical appointments with a variety of people: the family doctor, the neurologist, the KNO specialist, the oculist, dentist, internist, CT and MRI scans, extensive blood research plus that a heart film was taken. After all these consultations we were informed that no malfunctioning was found. But still, for all that matter, Anneke is lying sick on our couch. To us this is a frustrating experience. Notwithstanding, we did visit one or two ships together in IJmuiden and Amsterdam. And every time we noticed, even with the hindrances that Anneke is experiencing, that the Lord led us to the right people, helping in the need of people. But still , it is so confusing to us. The Lord blesses our ministry but also permits that Anneke is hardly able to function in her ministry. How can this be? However, we have put all of this in the hands of our Lord and look to Him, trustfully regarding the future.
Would you please continue to pray for us?
With hearty greetings and may God bless you all. United in the bonds of Christ,
Jan and Anneke Best.
Between the waves / June 2017 - on board
The fact that seamen here always have the prospect of attending a meeting / church fellowship on board, gave us the idea to also write about this in a circular letter to be given to other believing sailors, even to those leading a fellowship in their home country. How hard it is to keep the fire burning on the altar when ,as sailors, there is no fellowship to be had with other believers. Take for instance a prisoner in solitary confinement, surely the Holy spirit will be a help to him. But with believing sailors, even when there are several on the same ship, they remain in isolation. I discovered that they don’t spend time together in prayer, worship or bible study. The cause for this is to be found in their upbringing . They are formed as it were, by tradition and thinking that such meetings can only be presided by a proper clergyman or an ordained pastor. A certain bible-knowledge is of course necessary to lead such a group and is all the more needed because of the diversity of believers on board and the possible influence of sects who may interpret the Word in a different manner. From letters which I have received I learnt that people have now started to pray for seafarers. However, the prayer meetings that are held on board ships consist mainly of a small and consistent band of believers. On-board my offshore ship, opinions varied as to when to put biblical films on during the ship’s movie time. Some people had asked for it, but they had not visited our meetings. The question now was, is it wise to run such a bible-movie in between other film channels? To finds the proper channel first, you first had to zap past all kinds of unsavoury films before you are set. It would be better to turn off the TV all together! Also timing these films is quite a job. On the other ships there is a video-on-demand system and is better suited to handle such situations. The ship has now gone to the demolition-yard. Before that I went to clean out our bible cupboard in a room there. Instead of taking everything home with me I prayed to be able to give it to special persons in places like Malaysia, Sabah, Johor Bahru and the Philippines in order to pass it on for evangelism purposes.
It so happened that these persons could be found on board here. For me that resulted in making new contacts and hearing new testimonies. Now a former welder walks around in Sabah, living in a Christian compound with job training facilities. There is also an opportunity for him of attending a prayer meetings during the day. Now I want to share something else with you which I heard on the “smokers bench” in the engine room, where we sometimes evangelise. It proved that the Chinese crewmembers among themselves have exchanged the Jesus movie. So spreading the Gospel goes much easier than one would think. Since the end of August I follow a bible school training ( 3 years) in Rotterdam. The coming months ( years) I’ll have opportunities to participate with colleagues of the Havenlicht/SCFS mission to visit ships because I won’t be at sea then. When I was still on my old ship which is to be broken up, most of the electric light system had already been turned off but I went there for a last time with a Latvian student. Two stewards in their testimony had told us of having received a touch of God’s presence in a certain room of the ship. We had heard more testimonies about that coffee-cabin.( read about it in the No. 149 of Harbourlight about the English scaffolding worker) So my Latvian friend and I revisited this place and in prayer commended this quarter to the Lord, thinking about the time, when in China, the ships wreckers would demolish this particular area. That these men also would come to a saving knowledge of the Living God. About sister ships.
During the last period I received news from the sister ships that gospel meetings are being held there also. One such meeting kept drawing more visitors every week. People wanted to know about Jesus and even came along during their resting time, which means a lot to them as their working hours are from 12 till 12, and that seven days a week! During that winter season in Rotterdam we wanted to keep on helping our men on board there by means of SCFS/WIN, but then already , most of them had gone home. Mostly church meetings on ships are of a temporary nature. I learnt about this when reading some books published by the SCFS. But steadfast is our God who is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is always the same , be it on a big or on a small ships in any given port of the world. With hearty greetings,
The water taxi brings me to a ship anchored in the middle of the harbour. On board I meet a mixed crew of Indonesian, Burmese and Korean sailors. They have just made the long journey to Amsterdam, having come all the way from Sulawesi. Regrettably they can’t go ashore because they are now at anchor in the middle of the harbour. The sailors are somewhat bored and their first question to me is, if I have any telephone cards with me. ”I’m sorry, no, but it is a good lesson to me to bring them along next time”. I was invited to share a meal with them and afterwards had some good conversations. A sailor with a Muslim background takes without any restraint a DVD with the Jesus movie from the table and starts reading the text on the cover. What boredom can incite! Not long ago, apart from visiting seafarers, I also meet many other people in the ports themselves, like security, crane drivers or for instance here the man steering the water-taxi. Often these men want to ( or have to) know who I am and what my business is. It is surprising to see every time how each person reacts differently when I answer their questions. Sometimes they react in a negative way, but mostly in a positive way. I once had a person who spontaneously started to tell me the story of his life. I do get chances is this way to share the Gospel with many. With a Chinese person I talk about his country and mention a book which I had read recently. It has as title: Red China’s Blues, written by the Canadian writer and journalist Jan Wong. It is a book my Chinese friend knew well but it is forbidden literature in his country. “So many things have changed in China and you don’t want to know how much suffering there still is for the Chinese”, he tells me and went on to say:” You can really notice here in the West that you are in a Christian country; everything is run in a perfect manner, everyone is happy, even prostitution is legal”. I explain to him that his look at our culture isn’t quite right, many people are not happy and prostitution is certainly not a symbol of a perfect society and is contrary to our Christian way of thinking”. This sailor, being a stern atheist, gladly accepts a Chinese/English Bible :”..It will help to improve my English!” I hope sincerely that it won’t stop at that. Not long ago I took a sailor home with me that I had met before. Because of the nice weather we decided to do some canoeing. After some time we had a short break at a village. He was so surprised at the assortment of fish displayed to the customer at a local fish shop. We are in the middle of summer and everything is green: , the reed borders, the duckweed but also the weeping willows along the stream and even nearby ditches are full of water. As we pass some nice apartments he comments that it is a clear sign of our prosperity. During the trip he asks me about everything he sees, but also about faith matters. In this way, while canoeing, I have an opportunity to witness about Jesus and how He came to the world long ago and how He suffered for me but that Jesus came, also for him and that He stretches out His hand to the whole world and are you willing to lay your hand in His? After having had supper with us, we read Psalms 23. Then I brought him back to his ship. As the gate opens to let us in, he utters a sigh: “Now I am back in the prison”. For us it was a simple outing but to him this afternoon was a different world altogether. I hope to meet him again shortly.
With friendly greetings,
The Rumanian watchman who at first appeared rather gruffly to me, started to smile after I had spoken to him for a while. He was grateful for the Bible which he thankfully accepted. Also the gift of a craftily designed wooden cross made him happy. During the past season visiting ships, we spoke to sailors from the Philippines, Russians, Rumanians, sailors from Georgia, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Norway, Surinam, Cape Verde Islands, Iceland, Holland, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Two Indonesian cooks were surprised to hear that I already knew about them. They were actually the reason why I came to visit them. Even though they were very busy, they took time to talk to me. In leaving I told them that I am always good friends with ships cooks and it made them smile in recognition. With a :”I know you from another ship!”, I was happily greeted by a seaman. I remembered him also and we had a nice talk. We had prayer when we concluded our conversation: for himself, for his wife and their child in the Philippines.
On board a great Bulk carrier the chief cook tells Yvonne: “go and have a talk with my assistant. He’s having a hard time”. This young Philippino cook was only 21 and, had been at sea for only for a week. During a storm on the way to Amsterdam he had become terribly seasick. The Chief grinned and said teasingly: “He almost died”. Yvonne was able to tell the young man about a loving Father in heaven who want to care for him. It looked like a mother and son scene with the young sailor and Yvonne but he gratefully accepted some Christian literature and a CD to listen to. We prayed for them both and then we heard: “you must have a bite to eat now”. We often hear this on board ships and we can’t always refuse such an invitation.
Much literature could be passed on like CD’s, DVD’s and Bibles in various languages. Wooden crosses and bottle ship souvenirs were also welcome. We opened God’s Word with the seafarers and prayed with them. Much clothing could be given out, mainly to Philippine sailors. Even a traveling bag found a new owner. He said: “I had prayed about this and look here, a bag for me!” But first and foremost in our visits it is about the Lord Jesus and we feel privileged to be able to do this work. Thank you for your prayers and other tokens of friendship.
A hearty greeting from
Theo en Yvonne van Zuilekom.
On the quay-side where the Super tankers are moored, I notice a group of 5 sailors coming towards me. It is a good opportunity as any to say something to them, for sailors are always curious. It proves they are from China. I introduce myself to them. They stop and listen to the Gospel and look at the picture-cards I show them. It tells about the separation between God and sinful man; the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross in which He complied to the demand of God. It was all needed to forgive sinful man, people like you and me. Whosoever believes on Him will not be lost but will live and receive eternal life. While talking, I show another picture of a large stone before the tomb and the Roman soldier standing guard. The next picture shows an angel rolling the stone away. Because Jesus paid the price for us and because He was resurrected by God from the dead, the gap , the separation between God and man, was filled up and persons like you and me who first lived in darkness separated from God, can now be saved. Here I pause, saying that the story is nearly ended. Now the question to you: what choice do you make? With patience they had listened all the time. They were part of a crew on their way to a so called tax-free shop and were looking forward to it. Then they moved on towards the end of the pier. In the distance I see another group of some sailors leaving their ship, coming my direction again. Now these proved to be Philippinos. Surely, they also must hear about this captivating story.
On deck I find a watchman who is interested and I have a brief contact a bit farther on with a Chinese seaman. On this ship I meet Earl, Abi Abi and Chris, a Philippino. There was not enough time for deep conversations but it was good to hear from them that on a next visit we would be welcome again.
How nice of you , dear friends, to read our reports about our work. We want to thank God for His protection on board the ships. We appreciate your prayers for my wife Hannie and myself. Pray also for lasting contacts with our friends Horinko from Hungary, for José Jimmy, Abi Abi, Joseph , Jeffry from the Philippines and the men who wanted to receive literature in Hindi, the Turkish language and Russian.
With hearty greetings from
Wout de Vries.
A week ago I returned from a three week furlough in Germany. It was a fruitful and blessed time where I myself and later as a family I could visit many friends, mission supporters and many churches. I’m happy now to be home and able to visit the ports of Rotterdam. I’m also glad to work together with my colleague René again. What a blessing it is to have a full time co-worker like René and also to form a team with Wout and the others. I’m very happy with our new location in Rozenburg. What a blessing to have an office and storage room at such a central location. It can easily be reached by al the team members. Since my return I haven’t as yet been to the ships that much but I did enjoy the time with René when we did visit some ships. At nearly all the places we were welcome and the men were glad to see us. On a small container ship “by chance” I met a Philippine sailor who happened to know me. For some time already we were friends on Facebook but we never had met personally. His name is Michel and works as an oiler in the engine room. He is a believing Christian and I am looking forward to meeting him again in three weeks’ time. It astonishes me every time to see how God is able , at the right time, to lead us to the right ship. Another highlight for me was meeting up with Alberto. He is an elderly Philippino seaman who by reading God’s Word had become a believer. He is so active and asks René many questions. René is the person he has come to know best. On the same ship is also Phillip, a fellow Christian and together with two others they have bible studies on board. Alberto was baptised some weeks ago in the Irish sea by our SCFS colleague in Dublin. The Lord is great and mighty to save people on board ships.
A hearty greeting from Rotterdam,
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 again for specific and urgent prayer for the health of
Anneke Best, it is still not going well with her.
Also welcome prayer for new workers in the ports, including for Harlingen and Delfzijl.
Thank you for all your valuable faithful prayer and other tokens of love!
This is how God works through you so that sailors can hear and accept His word!
We are very grateful to God for the many possibilities to be a blessing for sailors!