NEWSLETTER SPRING EDITION NO 160.
These days, apart from common Bibles, we also hand out the “Interactive Sailor Bible”. You cannot only read this Bible but listen to it and also see small movie spots, all of this in many languages! Sailors are very enthusiastic, thankful and happy with it. It will surely help them to get to know the Lord Jesus. We would like to come to your church or fellowship to tell about it and explain more about our work. Just let us know. Concerning going to the ports during this present Corona-virus crisis, extra care and wisdom is required. We therefore have temporarily ceased to visit ships in the ports.
From the Treasurer
The Foundation Het Havenlicht has the ANBI status. It means that your gifts can be deducted when filling in your income tax forms. To be eligible for this status, we must comply with certain regulations, allowing for instance our Foundation to be screened regarding its transparency. For those interested, more information can be found on the Website: https://www.havenlicht.com/financieel-anbi.status.htmi. There you can read the report of 2019. Should there be any questions, we’d like to hear from you. Also, as a Foundation, we recently registered with Geef.nl. Via this site our transparency is tested and gives one the opportunity to support us unanimously. The link is: http://geef.nl/nl/doel/stichting-het-havenlicht/over-ons
Scheveningen and Amsterdam
Now that the tension between Turkey and Europe is increasing, I also experience some tension while stepping aboard a Turkish Tanker. But there was no reason for this at all for I was welcomed with open arms by the Turkish crew. I was even invited to have a meal with them. Several of the men were interested in Turkish bibles, the calendars and other literature. The First Mate, a She actually, asks for a complete Bible which I happened to have with me. She also takes with her a bible study course in Turkish. In the meanwhile a man with blond hair entered the mess room. I am amazed for he looks like a Viking. However, he proves to be a real Turk. Soon I learn more about him for he shows me a verse from the Bible in Thessalonians saying: “here you find my roots, my ancestors come from the town of Thessaloniki. A-ha, so this man has Greek roots.
On another ship I enter the mess room at about 13.30 hrs. It is bad timing because many crewmembers are asleep or working. But an elderly cooks likes to have a chat with me. It proved that he had been at sea 45 years and had been in many dire circumstances. He even planned to write a book about it. Then he tells me of his mal-functioning adapter because without it his laptop is useless. What to do about it, he asks. I decide to take him along to a computer store in Amsterdam West, a multi coloured suburb. The owner of the store is also a Turk and quickly the cook starts to talk in rapid Turkish to the man. Soon it is discovered what the problem is and with a new adaptor we leave the shop. On the way back to the ship the cook tells me that he lives in Greece close to the Turkish border which was formerly part of Greece. He has a Greek passport, feels himself a Turk and is a Muslim. The cook is happy and relieved that his problem has been solved so quickly and thanks me at least four times. As for myself, I was glad to help him out. In driving back to the port I had a good opportunity to tell him about my Christian faith. Back on the ship I gave him my last Turkish Bible and I hope to meet him again shortly. A colleague from Liverpool asks via E-mail if we could deliver some extra Bibles on board a ship that has just arrived from Odessa. A Bible study group on board needed them.
The Philippine Chief Engineer proves to have a sparkling faith which had effected many of the crew, so Bibles were in demand. This in itself is exceptional. At first it seemed impossible to visit the ship for it was moored in the middle of the harbour. But after prayer and some e-mails doors opened and admission to this ship was granted.
Theo and I decided to go and we had a great time aboard this ship. The crew was happy with the Bibles and other study material. Then something quite exceptional happened. Spontaneously a meeting was organised with singing and prayer and a Word about who Jesus was according to Marc chapter five. In the middle of the harbour hectic, on a Thursday afternoon, there was time and room for a Gospel meeting with a large part of the crew attending! God is not restricted to time or place. This ship’s visit was on both sides a great encouragement. The crew kept waving to us when the boat takes us back to the quay.
In the Scheveningen port on a Dutch ship a trainee Officer listens in the background while I explain the Gospel to a few sailors coming from the Cape Verdean Islands. As soon as we are alone he says: “I appreciate the work you are doing but as far as I am concerned it is all a fable. And if hell exists, I’d like to go there for all my friends are there and my dog probably too”. I didn’t have a quick answer for him right then. In the meantime he starts telling me part of his life’s story. He then took me to the Bridge to show me his workplace. The captain is there also and as I introduce myself, I hear:” Are you there again, for once. The last time you were aboard my ship was fifteen years ago in Amsterdam!” This captain proved to be a Christian and had twice been present at one of our yearly Havenlicht days. This also was a nice ship’s visit, only it showed that we need more men doing port mission work. “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into the harvest”. ( Matth.9:37-38).
Christmas parcels – that was quite something. Some sailors reacted like: Oh, just put it down,- whereas others were moved to tears because it was the first time in 20 years that this had happened to them. Some sailors had not been home during Christmas for over 18 years and they have sad feelings about it. The church of my trainer ( coach) had been very active with preparing the Christmas parcels and they even included their children. After a real-life presentation in the children’s church, the kids started to decorate the boxes and to put in the useful articles as well as a personal note. The latter touched the sailors heart: a handwritten card! On two Coasters we were kindly invited aboard, children and all! That was much fun for they could hand over their personal box to a real Russian or real Philippino sailor. One of the children had mentioned once that she wanted to be a missionary in Russia.
On a Container ship which I had visited before, I met up with a keen Bible reader, being fond of the King James (KJV) version. With an Officer on watch-duty I had a good talk. He urged me to stay till dinnertime to share the Word with more of the crew. Inside the ship a photo was taken, first with some but every time new people came through in the corridor and were invited in till the whole unit was full. After dinner there was in fact a large group assembled who were thankful to receive the Word , telling of dark days when afterwards the Light of the World came. Lately some people from the International Church accompany me , bringing some expertise with them in the field of language, culture and religion. My apprentice time has now come to an end and I am staying on as a part-time worker in the team that visits ships in the region of Rotterdam.
Delfzijl and Eemshaven - a precious time
The weather was good and my wish was to go and visit the Eemshaven port. Not many ships were reported to have berthed there but I decided to go anyway. Soon after approaching the N33 motorway I spotted an enormous crane-ship, the Saipem 7000, one of the largest of this type in the world. But this ship had been there for weeks! I intended to visit this ship , for sure, but then drove on to the Emma-port. Arriving there I saw everybody extremely busy with loading and unloading and thought by myself: this is not the place to me , and drove on to the Juliana-port to get an up-date on my parking card for I had now a new car (automatic) with a new number plate. During a conversation with a security officer I asked if it was possible to visit the ship Blue Tern.
This was an enormous vessel and had been sitting in the same place for a long time. He pointed to a large building and on arriving there someone took me up to the company’s main office where I was not welcome just then.
Better luck next time, now I know the way! A pity things didn’t work out and I reckoned to have had a lost afternoon that day and started driving home. But approaching motorway N 33 I saw this huge crane-ship again. OK, let’s try to get aboard for once! I didn’t give myself much of a chance but had asked Guidance of the Lord before my trip – I should not complain. The closer I came to the Saipem 7000, the less I became convinced ever to be able to come aboard. The ship, sitting there enormously high on its huge “legs”, just being “big” in the Wilhelmina port with its deck rising high over the port facilities. From a distance no gangway was to be seen but when turning to park my car I spotted some activity near the ship.
Then I saw the gangway leading up to one of the ship’s enormous “legs”.
Close to this gangway was a watchman’s cabin with a Philippino on duty. I presented myself and asked if I could board the ship. “Oh Yes Sir, what is your organisation?” “It is Het Havenlicht / SCFS port mission”. A phone call was made and I was given the phone to explain matters. A difficult conversation followed but in the end I was given permission to come aboard. A Mexican sailor showed me the way, via the gangway into one of the “legs” of the ship and a small elevator brought us to the in-between deck. Then we stepped into another elevator. It was crowded and a Philippino lady ,covering her face with a shawl, indicated that she was not well( later on I was able to pray for her) After the elevator many more passages had to be crossed before I came to an office manned by two Philippino officers. I was invited to step inside.
We had a nice conversation, especially with Richard. In the end I presented the sailor with some “Interactive Bibles” plus a bottle ship which was given a special place next to a miniature statue of Christ. Then Richard accompanied me to a coffee room where I could speak to a number of men. I spent more than an hour in that coffee room and in leaving asked if I could come back in a week’s time. “Yes Please”. So next Wednesday I am going again to this ship but then together with Harm, my friend. Before saying goodbye to Richard I take a photo of him holding his Tagalog Bible, the one he had asked for. Then, back on the dock, I managed to have a talk with the watchman in his small cabin telling him about that wonderful “Interactive Bible” I had. I could see by the look of his face that he was interested but also: how much would it cost? Well, how much does the Gospel cost?
The price has been paid on the Cross of Calvary, right? When I told him the booklet was for free, he gladly accepted this little Bible. On the ship I had also handed out some fine woollen hats which were very welcome.
I sent Richard some photos by Mail for which he thanked me:” Many thanks, also for the precious time…God is good all the time”. Yes, how precious it is when we experience how God leads us. God is good.
In the meantime I have been back to the ship with Harm. We started on our journey with a visit to the Saipem 7000. Again via the gangway and the narrow elevator and with the help of a guide we arrived at the office again where I met Richard. To our regret we were not allowed to visit the coffee room. Strong measures had been taken, all having to do with fear of the Corona Virus, banning all visitors from the land ( meaning us landlubbers.) We had been the first visitors for days. A replacement crew from the Philippines had already been sent back!
However, we still had some good but short conversations with some people, passing on some small Bibles and warm woollen hats. We had actually expected more from this visit. What next? We went back to our car and drove back to Eemshaven port to a restaurant for something to eat. While I was quickly typing a Whats App inquiring after ships to visit or hindrances concerning the Corona virus, my friend Harm struck up a conversation with three persons sitting nearby. A deep conversation followed, about having faith in God. We could give our testimony and share things concerning our personal relationship with Jesus.
I also showed a poem that I had on my Website. One person was deeply touched.
Receiving a positive answer from Theo via WhatsApp about ships, we went on to a Norwegian vessel called Island Diligence. This also proved to be a short visit because a new crew had arrived and stores needed to be taken in. We were told that next week we would be welcome again. So today’s two visits went differently than what we had expected, but every testimony counts! God is good.
Jan Peter en José Kapteijn
Rotterdam - students on a missionary journey
Between February the tenth and February the nineteenth seven students and a teacher from the German Bible school came to Rotterdam to get acquainted with the Port mission work here. Maybe you remember that particular week for there were gale-force winds. But notwithstanding the bad weather we could still reach many sailors in a safe way. The students were very motivated and Felix and I had to answer many questions. It was a worthwhile but intensive period that we spent together. Normally I use the time between two talks, to reflect and prepare myself for the next conversation. Now I had to use that time to talk with the students about what they had heard. During the time that the students were with us many aspects of our work were discussed. Some students had come in contact with Jehovah witnesses on-board to win souls for their belief. And that in contrast to us talking and sharing the Gospel under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We met other Christians also, like on a bulk carrier where I met two of them with our students. I didn’t have in mind to visit this ship but God had led me to it. The first Christian we met, let us call him Norbert, was during the crew’s coffee time. After we had “scanned “ each other so to say, I discovered that he was a born again believer. Norbert grew up in a Muslim dominated area in his home-land and had been threatened more than once because of his faith. On-board he was seen as a “super holy person”. We saw for ourselves that even here he was ridiculed. For that reason he was very cautious in what he said. It wasn’t easy for him to listen to us about witnessing on board or to start up a Bible study group, like as we advised, even when he had the capacity to do it. Still, the time we were together was certainly of encouragement to him. Looking around we saw some “daring” photos pinned to the wall but also, beside it, some verses from the book of Proverbs. Nobody dared to remove these particular photos so we tried not to look at them. Later near the gangway, we met another Christian. He was a member of a lively Christian fellowship at home and straight-away told us that, where possible, he hands out Christian tracts to others. He was also the person who had put the verses from Proverbs on that wall. Every week he replaces them with new ones! It showed that he was a passionate Christian who, with the right assistance, could develop much farther in his outreach.
He was still somewhat reserved in his attitude as to our suggestion to start a Bible study group on board. He did have, off and on, some contact with fellow Christians and they sometimes prayed together .This didn’t happen often because of the different work schedules. I could pass on some good literature to him and there is a chance that his ship might call in at one of the many ports in Rotterdam again.
I advised them to install an App for a Bible study course by correspondence. – https://emmaus-app.com/ You also can make use of this link.
What a blessing it is to know that people pray for me and especially when I am in the ports. Later I’ll tell you more. It is something else when you walk around an old port area and the ship you have in mind can’t be reached. Then you go to a next port area and then you hear that the ship is delayed and has just entered the shipping lane near Hook of Holland. Then, finally, you are able to board this ship and you hear that in the next eight days in Holland its mooring will be spread over different port areas. Some of these difficult places I remember too well! But now there is hope that a good opportunity will present itself and a firm belief that now I shall be led to come in contact with sailors. And so it happens that I’m now reading a book together with Haini. We read from a booklet printed in a bi-lingual way. I don’t know his language and he knows no English. We are sitting in the cook’s galley and in silence Haini nods and agrees with what I am saying. We are reading together about Jesus because the right-hand page is in English and the left-hand page of this bible study booklet is in his language and I could help him in this way. I went home in a happy mood. A few days later when his ship is moored at its third berth, I board the ship again. Now with more literature and all is welcomed by the crew: they are a curious lot! Doesn’t God work in a beautiful way? Something similar happened with Hussein a few weeks later. Thank You Lord, you know everything. Somebody from Georgia was so surprised seeing a Bible in his own language. And how happy a South Korean sailor was with a gospel-movie in his own language. Please pray for Haini, Hussain and his fellow seafarers. With friendly greetings to you, being our “partners”.
Wout de Vries
Every time when we go out to visit ships we never know how it will turn out. Below some reports on how we fared during the first quarter of 2020. We have spoken to seafarers from different countries like: the Philippines, Sweden, Mauretania, Holland, Wales, England, Scotland, India, several East European states, Peru and more. It happens sometimes that people recognise us from times past, even years back. It so happened that, having arrived at the bridge, I ran into an Indian officer. He recognized me straightaway. That created both a bond and an opportunity to witness the Lord Jesus. All captains on the ships we boarded gave us a hearty welcome with: “go right ahead”, or “Do you know your way around?” But also: ”Yes, I do remember you from the last time we met”. There was this Scotsman who’d had a nice conversation with a colleague of ours in Dundee. It is remarkable how open sailors are to the Gospel, female sailors as well! We have spoken to Muslim sailors from Mauretania who at first didn’t want to have anything to do with the Gospel. But on a second visit one accepted an Arabian City bible. The Living Word has thus been sown and will do His work. It is great to meet sailors from Peru. These men were so open to the Gospel and how happy were they with the “Interactive Sailor Bible”. This Bible can be read, heard and listened to in many languages. Because at sea internet is not always available every man also received a complete Spanish Bible and other Spanish literature. The sailors from Peru are always glad when they hear we are coming to visit their ship. This time again we did hand out many knitted woollen hats and warm clothing like jackets, pullovers and trousers. This is also part of our work. What matters most is that sailors get to know the Lord Jesus personally and come to have new life in Him!
A hearty thanks for all your faithful prayers and other tokens of fellowship.
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: 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, Sailor Society and other unnamed organizations, who all in their own specific way, contribute to do the job well.
Anneke Best's health has not been good for years.
We would like to ask you to keep on praying for the health of all co-workers and their families but especially for:
Anneke Best and Jan Peter Kapteijn to continue in the ministry God has given.
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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