“…. Because the gracious hand of my God was upon me…” Neh Ch 2:8
Nehemiah is one of the most outstanding leaders found in the whole of the Bible. It has been said that in every generation God equips trusted servants for effective leadership. And surely Nehemiah comes within that description. At a time when there was no King, Priest (save Ezra) or Prophet in Jerusalem of significance.
Nehemiah is a visible reminder to those in authority at the time. That though he held neither of these offices he was a living embodiment, witness and testimony to them all. He shows nobility of Character, undertaking like many Kings great building projects, advocating spiritual renewal and dedication to God. At the same time he is outspoken and confrontational to Israel’s nobles and leaders – reflecting the role of Priest and Prophet. Truly God finds his servants in surprising places, often in the everyday circumstances of life. And from there takes them to fulfil his plans and purposes – Nehemiah summarises that as being the ‘gracious hand of his God’ being upon him. May we count like Nehemiah the blessings in our lives as the gracious hand of our God.
I reflected on this as we met one of our dearest friends and sister in Christ Durga. We have known Durga many years and she came into Liverpool on the Bank Holiday Monday on the Cruise ship Boudicca. Because of her position she is able to get us access onto the vessel to meet her.
Amongst other things she told us the story of how she became a seafarer, and it seemed to reflect the providence of God in her life – even coming from a Hindu background in Nepal. It showed the story that God had used many Christian Chaplains around the world which had an impact on her life for good. Men and women from the US, Ireland, and the UK – and even her crew mates too. But also how that through the circumstances of family, she found herself working for Fred Olsen Cruise Line. Without which she would not have met many of us. We all Praise and thank God that she finally made that decision to commit her life to Jesus many years ago. And that she was baptised in N Ireland by our friends there. Since then we have all sought to encourage and bless her in her faith and will continue to do so.
I guess we can say that it was because the ‘gracious hand of our God was on her life’ that she is now wonderfully part of God’s family and that she will always be part of our prayers and lives.
At the beginning of the month on the M.V. Golf I met John Mark Ma-aon who was the 2nd Mate and is a believer he told me how that the C/ Officer Anthony had met with a friend of his when they were in London and had come to faith. In the evening I picked them up and we did a little sightseeing in the city.
Later John, Anthony, Francis and Jonas came back home and we had a good evening of friendship and hospitality. It was good to give the resources to encourage them in their faith.
On the M V Oslo I met Evans Moses an O/S from Ghana it was his first trip, we had some good conversation I found out he was a believer. I found out that he did not have a Bible with him. So I shared the importance of reading the Word of God, his Grandmother was a great spiritual influence on his life. As I left him the Bible his Ukrainian friend Yasher also wanted a Bible from me too. I encouraged Evans to spend some time with his crew mate with the Word of God.
Visiting a vessel one day I had a good welcome from the C/Officer Jay and also met his cousin Marvin who was also another C/officer. Marvin is a believer but I only met him briefly, I had some good conversation with Jay, who spoke about good works in the Christian faith which of themselves are fine. But with regard to recieving Eternal Life have no effect or value, and I explained that to him. While he accepted this I suspected he did not fully grasp the importance of trusting in Christ alone for Salvation. He was pleased for his cousin but considered it just a change of religion and not a change of lifestyle.
It is not too often that we get a ship visiting from Bulgaria, but when the MV Kom came in I was afforded a good welcome. Here I met Alexander a young O/S who was very personable and we got on well. We talked about may things and when I finally introduced the Word of God to him, he told me he was a Christian and had been since birth! When I probed a bit deeper it seems his Grandmother had taught him the scriptures from an early age. He told me of a time when he first joined the ship and he had prayed that someone may come and help and encourage him. The next day a man came from the local Mission and was able to pray with him and encourage him. This was a blessing to him, I said that I would return with a Bulgarian Bible and also some devotional material. This I did about two days later, he was very pleased to receive it, and thanked me for my concern for his welfare.
The Ben Maye was on standby waiting for another vessel to finish discharging. So it probably was a good time to visit and I got a good welcome. I left a number of resources for them, the C/Engineer (Gino) from Cape Verde who was on placement from another vessel, he spoke about a booklet I left with him ‘Away from Home’. He said how relevant it was to life at sea. I had a good conversation with him and had opportunity to share the Word of God and the hope that is found in the Lord Jesus. I pray that God’s Word would be as seed sown in their lives.