“Make the most of every opportunity, for the days are evil.” Ephesians Ch 5:16
We have been reading the latter part of Acts in our devotional time. Some believe these latter chapters are the least read and known of this great book. In It, Paul’s imprisonments and trials, give him the greatest platforms for missional proclamation and the advance of the gospel. Increasingly, Paul focuses his efforts on people of influence, even when he is a prisoner and in shackles. People like Sergius Paulus, Felix, Festus, King Agrippa and Julius the Centurion.
One writer calls them gatekeepers, people of influence who Paul uses to let him in with the good news. Paul will make his final appearance before Caesar, through his appeal. But the outcome of that is not recorded in Acts, and some wonder why Acts stops so abruptly? But the same writer says that the ending of Acts draws us in and compels us to follow in the footsteps of people like Peter and Paul, playing our part in God’s worldwide mission. The job isn’t finished so the story doesn’t finish: it’s our turn now! And so, on the ship’s sometimes we meet ‘gatekeepers’ as it were – people of influence that allow us into places we would not other wise be able to go. I am thinking of some of the Russian and Ukrainian seafarers who I have met over the last couple weeks. I have been impressed with the number who have requested the scriptures. Sometimes the initial contact with an A/B on watch can seem fruitless. But often a more senior officer will come and speak with you to see what you want.
On the LMZ Europa after the initial contact, the Chief Officer was very friendly and invited me for lunch, which for a Russian crew is quite rare, so I took him up on the offer. This gave me the opportunity to access the Mess, and meet more crew, the Cook was from Georgia, and was a Muslim. He refused my gift of a Russian Bible and devotional, for a very nice meal – but the mess man took it instead.
Visiting the Ionian Star where I was well received by the crew and found them very receptive to receiving the scriptures.
I had several conversations but was really pleased when the Russian C/O Anatoily asked if I had a Bible which he was really keen to have. I was also able to leave him a Russian Daily Bread as well which he was very pleased to get.
Visiting the NM Sakura – what seemed like an unproductive first contact on the Russian ship, I was invited inside – and had some conversation with a number of crew. They were mainly interested in sights and internet, but the literature left was picked up by a couple of crew – the young C/Officer Mykhaylo was very friendly and asked if I was R/C, Orthodox or JW?
I said neither. He picked up the Bible and asked if I had an English version, I remembered that I had a Gideon NT, and he was really pleased to get it. He told me about his young family back home, I then remembered about the Russian Children’s Bible’s that I had.
I asked if he would like one for his children back home, he said yes so long as I put his daughters name in it and signed it Mr Dave. I took two and he took one for his yet to be born 2nd child! The Electrical officer (Nicolai) was called in by the Chief and I gave him an English Our Daily Bread I knew part of the reason he wanted this was to improve his English. It was still an opportunity I did not want to miss, as understanding my conversation was difficult for him.
I continue to encourage Christian seafarers when I get the opportunity to meet them. And also, to provide resources for them that will encourage them in their Christian Faith. Visiting the FJ Star (Fil) – and spent most of the morning with the ship until lunch time – had a really good welcome and met a number of crew. There were a number of new crew on board and I met the new Captain, who was quite friendly – a number of crew took the literature. I met Abe who was the 3rd Mate and also the mess man Paul – both profess to be Born Again, so I left them some further resources to encourage them in their Faith.
On the Maestro Diamond I met Richard the Electrical Engineer who is a believer and we had some good talk I left him a number of resources to encourage him in his faith, sadly his ship would be leaving in the early hours of the morning.
Over the past couple of weeks, we have been visiting a seafarer in hospital here in Liverpool. We found out about him from two crew who came to Church one Sunday morning Chito and Michael.
Later we took them to Asda and then went and visited Jay in hospital. We have visited him several times since, his ship has long since sailed and we have been praying for him along with others.
Jay was poorly for a while and at one point was in ITU – eventually he was discharged and flew back to Manila. He was again admitted to hospital there as he started to have fits.
He was finally diagnosed with a viral encephalitis, for which he is now being treated. We passed on his details to SCFS in Manila, and they have followed him up, and we continue to pray for him.
We continue to thank God for all the opportunities that come our way, and thank you all once again for your continued support – please continue to pray for us.