“….the God who has been my Shepherd all my life to this day…”
This verse spoken by Israel (Jacob) to bless Joseph and his two sons which were brought to him is especially dear to me. In previous weeks before the New Year I had been reading the latter part of Genesis reading this account. Late December early January I had been thinking about the Ministry for the coming Year. I guess it was on my mind about how it would work out in another New Year. I was troubled and perplexed in my mind and was restless in sleep about many things. And as these anxieties played out in my thoughts I lay there half awake/sleep one morning when this verse jumped right in to my mind from seemingly out of nowhere. It had been several weeks since I had read it, and was a powerful encounter which at once shook me, and yet left me profoundly humbled. My Heavenly Father seemed to be reminding me through his Holy Spirit that he too had been my Shepherd all my life and would be so in 2017 and beyond.
Thank You Lord.
I continued the distribution of Christmas gifts throughout the month of December and was able to give out 671 parcels. Once again I would like to thank all who contributed to the undertaking of this work in its various ways.
Interestingly not all crew are that happy to receive gifts, the Captain on one vessel was very negative with regard to my offer. I decided I would leave them for the crew anyway. As I was leaving to retrieve them from my car the Ghanaian Fitter Ernest came to me and apologised on behalf of the Captain. I was able to give him a yearly devotional reading which he was happy to receive.
Some of you may have seen the film Captain Phillips, about a Container ship captured by Pirates. While taking Christmas gifts on another vessel I got into conversation with the Electrician Nneil.
Nneil told me about his experience of being held hostage for 8mths in Somalia in 2015 and how his faith sustained both him and his crew mates, as he encouraged them through the most difficult of circumstances. While a wonderful story the effects of that situation still leave emotional and psychological scars for Nneil who is always concerned where his next destination will be. Please pray that God will heal him of these scars.
On another vessel – I met Lloyd the Boson who has only just arrived on board. He told me because of his rush to join the ship that he did not bring the appropriate clothes for Winter. The man he relieved was perhaps supposed to leave some waterproof Hi viz. clothes which he had not – Lloyd asked if I was able to provide for him. He had prayed that someone would come and meet a need, how could I not answer his prayer?- I returned later with a Hi Viz Jacket, Shoes and socks as well as a jumper, hat and gloves – all second hand but greatly appreciated. How could I hand out the scriptures, and also not meet the material need when asked?
I had a particularly good visit on a vessel where I met Jeyson the 3rd Mate and Marco the Cook it was good to help and encourage Jeyson who is only a young believer. As we chatted we were joined by Marco who had made a wonderful lunch for us.
He began to ask questions about what we believed, this of course opened the door to share the gospel with him. But in truth Marco had heard it on many occasions as he related how another seafarer had shared the scriptures with him on a number of occasions. We spent about an hour talking about these matters it was a great opportunity. I hope to send some resources out to Jeyson when he goes home as he lives in an isolated area of the Philippines with no evangelical witness or Church.
On another vessel I had a good welcome from the crew had a really good conversation with Ar-jay the Messman (below) and was able to give him a Bible with resources.It was good to explain the importance of reading it on a daily basis and give him a reading plan, and tell him the importance of praying before opening up the word of God. My prayer is that as he opens up the Word of God that he will encounter the Lord Jesus on a very personal level.
Sherwyn was the wheelman on his ship and he was going home with his crewmate Joel. He was 25 but looked a lot younger, he was bright and articulate in his conversation. He came from Cebu and graduated from the Maritime school there – we had visited this place in 2014.
We had some great conversation on spiritual matters he was R/C but was very open to what faith in Christ is about. He asked me to pray with for him and we shared the Word of God – I shared the story of Samuel with him and encouraged him to be like a young Samuel –… ‘speak Lord for your servant heareth’… ! Because he did read his Bible regularly.Joel came and joined us and I prayed for both of them for their journey and their family back home.
I later found out he was good friends with another seafarer who had visited our house group a couple of years ago. Small World !
These have been some of the encouragements at the start of the New Year. Please continue to pray for us for wisdom and strength as we continue in this Ministry.