Alaska Christian Ministry to Seafarers
Seward Seaman's Mission
October 2007 Newsletter
Summer Report by David Hawkins
We have again been blessed with another wonderful summer's outreach to the men and women who work so hard aboard the cruise ships. We began the season in Whittier by 'increasing our borders'! The two-room, studio apartment that had served us so well since our return three years ago, was becoming increasingly cramped due to the popularity of the internet. What a blessing it was to rent another two-room apartment across the hall, with one room dedicated to counseling and media, and the other to music and worship services. In the middle of the summer we received an unsolicited donation from the passengers and crew of Princess Cruises to pay for the extra rent for two years and to replace our aging Ford van. Our regular ministry team of eight persons communicated well this year, using our gifts together within the scope of God's plan for the Seaman's Mission. The number of visitors to the Seward and Whittier Missions increased, and many heard the message of Salvation for the first time! There were baptisms in both ports, and God enabled us to meet the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of men and women from many lands and of multiple faiths.
Needs Are Met Without Our Knowing It by Jeannette Seale
I was a stanger and you welcomed me. Mt. 25:35
It was the last day of the last ship, even the last hour. The church service was just finishing up. In the other rooms a few men had been using the phones and some were closing down their email. As we volunteers quietly chatted, an Indian security guard came and stood in front of me, almost at attention. He began what seemed to be a carefully prepared speech, thanking us and God for all the work we had done over the summer. As he spoke, he dissolved into tears, and wiped his tears with his cap.
Next he went to each volunteer in their turn and thanked them, also with many tears. We were taken by surprise by his actions. As he left, still wiping his tears, we all looked at each other, and asked "Who is that man? What is his name?" Not one of us knew!! He had come to the mission to use the phone and email a few times, but was always so engrossed in what he was doing that we did not have the chance to get to know him. As we pondered his emotional goodbye, we all were stunned at the impact the little Mission had had on this stranger. We can only imagine how important the phone and email service was for him so that he could contact his family.
In Season and Out by George Reichman
People's needs don't usually fit into our schedules or plans. That truth came alive to me recently. As soon as we walked in the door of the mission (after the 90 mile trip up from Seward), we were told that two Filipinos who were already there wanted to sing. One of the volunteers began to sing with them, while I took the mission van and began to take seafarers to and from the ship.
About an hour later, as I walked into the mission, Betsy, the volunteer, called me into the room and said, "Are you ready in season and out?" In response to my quizzical look she explained that the men wanted to hear a gospel message. Knowing that seafarers don't usually have much free time, I asked them when they had to go back to the ship. They replied, "Whenever you're finished."
I am very much a "routine" person and sometimes find it hard to be flexible and quickly switch gears, but God gave me the grace to drop what I was doing. I found out that they were night workers and should have been sleeping. Instead, here they were, hungry to be fed from God's word.
God showed me what to share with them from the Scriptures. We talked about dealing with the "giants" in our lives. As soon as we finished, they returned to the ship for some much-needed sleep.
These night workers were weary physically, but they went to bed filled spiritually from singing and hearing God's Word. I was reminded that when we are seeking to be used by God to meet people's needs, we need to be ready--in season and out!
Not All Days Are Solemn by Jeannette Seale
With the weather so changeable and so much glacier dust on the street, it does not take long for the mission van to be dirty. Since the vans belong to the Lord, we are always very careful to have them clean for the seafarers. One sunny morning I went out to drive, but the van did not pass inspection.
Even though it was early, I decided to make one run to the ship on this very windy morning to see if there were any crew waiting for a ride. Sure enough, there were two Filipinos dressed in shorts ready for basketball. They hopped in, all smiles, ready to play. I explained to them that I had just one job to do before I went back to the Mission, and the gym wasn't open yet anyway. I drove to the local wash rack to find the old plastic bucket and long handled brush missing!! A grizzled city worker came out to explain that three buckets and brushes had been stolen that week and he was not about to put out another. The two crewmembers decided to rinse off the van with the hose for me anyway. The only tool left to work with was a blue toilet bowl brush that was used for tires. With lots of shouts and laughter, cold blowing spray from the windy morning, and me the official photographer, they managed to wash the van with that toilet bowl brush!!!!!
What Isn't Said by Kathy Martin
The Lord appeared to him from afar, saying, 'I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with loving kindness.' Jer 31:3
I had the privilege of meeting a young Chinese man who worked in the laundry of his ship. He could speak little English and every attempt to converse with words proved impossible. Nevertheless, we found a way to joke around and communicate about simple things. He welcomed our gifts of literature in his language. At times he even seemed quite hungry for it, always responding to my offer with "yes, yes... I have?" As the season progressed, he began bringing gifts to US, bags filled with Chinese candies and cookies! Ah, sweet grace... he was moved to give something in return. I sensed that God was opening his heart to the love around him. When the time came for us to part for the season, we both just stood there looking at each other, communicating, without words, the things of the heart. We had become friends indeed. God had caused us to connect, beyond the language barrier and beyond the world around us. I had not been able to delve more deeply into his spiritual need. I would have to rely upon the literature to do that; but, it was clear that something "greater than Solomon" had been at work. Words may fail. Love never fails. God is at work in this young man's life.
You Never Know by David Hawkins
As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well. Ecclesiastes 11:5-6
It's always such a relief for me to be reminded that God is in no way dependent upon me to convict non believers of the truth of the Gospel. Neither does He require me to cajole or plead, but to simply share the way of salvation clearly, with love and prayer, in the best way He has enabled me. All of us may sometimes feel we have failed because we do not see the immediate evidence of transformed lives. This has certainly been true for me on many occasions. Yet, God has blessed with some glimpses of how He has caused seed to flourish long after it has been sown.
On one occasion a man came to me and asked, "Do you remember me?" "No", I had to admit. "I'm John", he said. "You let me stay here for a while a couple of years back when I was homeless. During that time we talked about Jesus, and when I left you gave me the 'Gospel' booklet. I read it every day, and eventually I understood the message. I put my trust in Jesus Christ as my Savior." He said that he was now living for the Lord and still read that little booklet on a daily basis.
Phillip was working on a cruise ship. He had spent a long time in the mess room listening as I told men what the Bible had to say about our sinfulness and of being "born from above." He gave little indication as to his deeper thoughts, but a year later he told a colleague on another ship that the scriptures we read together that day had cut deeply into his heart. After our talk he went to his cabin and wept with conviction. He had dropped to his knees, and gladly accepted the free gift of salvation and forgiveness offered to him from heaven, just as I had done in my own cabin 20 years earlier. He shared his new found faith in Christ with his wife and 5 daughters and they also came to Christ.
A Captain Shares by Captain David Warden-Owen
I joined the Saga Rose almost 10 years ago in 1997. It has been a wonderful time in my life. The ship is "special" and I have a great crew under my command ( mainly from the Philippines) But the thing that has brought me the greatest joy is the way the Lord has been honored on this ship. Through our interdenominational Sunday Worship together, many lives have been touched and hearts opened to the word of God. And I praise God for all the marvelous works He is doing in so many lives through His Son Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Praise is powerful, and we are blessed with a wonderful Filipino choir. In a way they themselves are missionaries, missionaries across the sea, ministering in song, praising our Lord for His wonderful Grace and Mercy. Ps:133 springs to mind: Behold how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.......For there the Lord commands the blessing -- Life forevermore. We are truly blessed and it is a privilege to have been part of this ministry these last ten years. I wait patiently upon the Lord for his plans for the next chapter in my career.
We met Captain Warden-Owen in Seward before 1997. We were requested to come to his office before the ship sailed, as they were headed into a storm. He summoned all the navigation officers, quarter masters, and pilots, to his office and we joined Capt. Warden-Owen and his wife for prayer.)
"I Knew It Was Sent" by Jeannette Seale
The young South African Christian was excited about working in the galley on a passenger ship. He had not really intended in the bargain to come half way around the world and be in the opposite hemisphere from his home, but that is where he found himself: first ship in his life, first contract, first week, so alone and overwhelmed with his new job. One of his first days in the crew mess, he had noticed a small poster advertising the Christian fellowship aboard. He decided that he would attend, even though he was tired from his travel and the stress of the job.
On the eighth day of his contract, he did not have the slightest idea where he was, or even what day it was, since he had no calendar. As he sat in his room reading his Bible he breathed a prayer, asking the Lord Jesus for just a little thing, a calendar to help him plan his days.
He then walked to the crew mess for a cup of coffee. He saw activity at the first table, with crew standing all around, holding books and maps. He came closer. I saw his name tag and realized this was the new man I had heard about already, who had come to the fellowship group his first week on the ship, a very rare occurrence. " Hi! Would you like to have a little pocket calendar?" With surprise and pleasure, he held it close. Later as we sat in the mess together, he said "When you handed me the calendar, unasked for, I knew at the moment it was sent!"
A Sower Went Out to Sow His Seed by David Hawkins
Tony is a technical worker that I met on a cruise ship just recently. He liked to join our table in the mess room where I would meet with the ship's fellowship leaders. This man appeared to be solidly entrenched in his differing beliefs, and he would invariably challenge whatever view I was expressing. To be truthful, Tony made me uncomfortable, and I would have been happier if he had chosen to sit elsewhere. He was hard work. Even so, God requires me to be faithful, even when I am unsettled and lacking confidence. I must simply trust that God's Holy Spirit will use my best effort, even though it may not amount to much. At the end of that ship's last day in Seward, Tony handed me a letter. He wrote a very warm letter of farewell, and encouraged me not to give up telling others about Christ. Enclosed were five one dollar bills - a donation of infinite value.
God's Test by Jeannette Seale
Fear not, for I am with you. Is 41:10
The room steward was rushing around cleaning his cabins when he discovered that his master key had lost its magnetism. He had to go to his supervisor's office to get the master key in order to finish his job. That key opened all the cabins on the entire deck and because passenger security was at stake, the steward was warned not to lose the key. Loss meant either immediate firing or at least a written letter of complaint in his file. Just two letters like that also meant immediate dismissal. He rushed back to his station to finish his duties before the new passengers joined. When he was finished, he realized he had lost the master key!!!
In a panic he called his supervisor, the laundry and the incinerator supervisors. All were on the look out for the innocent piece of blue plastic with a black swipe mark across the back. About then, I dropped by to say hello, and he told me about the key. He is one of the Christian fellowship leaders onboard, and he feared for his job and his reputation as a responsible worker and leader. He said this was causing his faith to waiver. We prayed together.
When the ship returned two weeks later, I asked about the key and he chuckled and told me about how God had tested him. He said that as the new passengers came on, and he was still frantically searching rooms for the key, one of his new passengers called him to the cabin. The man asked about the bottle of champagne and flowers and all the paperwork that had been left on his cabin desk. The steward explained that the travel agent had sent the champagne and flowers. The paper work was from the various shops on the ship. Then the passenger pulled a blue piece of plastic out of an envelope, and said "and what is this for?" The steward's heart leaped for joy, but he just calmly smiled and said, "oh that is just something I need, sir." He took the key, put it in his pocket and went on his way rejoicing!! He had no idea at all how the key got into that envelope, but it was a nice safe place to keep the master key!!!
From Every Tribe and Nation by Jeannette Seale
By thy blood thou didst ransom men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. Rev. 5:9
When trying to find a certain crew member on a ship with 1000 crew, I depend totally upon God to put me in the right place at the right time. I arrived in the crew mess at coffee time, with two people on my mind. I had material for one of them and wanted the men to meet as they were both converted Muslims from different countries. They worked at different times and in different sections and would never have the chance to meet unless it was a 'set up'.
Suddenly I saw my friend from Turkey, the man I was looking for. I pulled his bag of material out for him to see. Two Indonesian men came up beside us. One was a man I barely knew, and beside him was the second man I had wanted to find! The first Indonesian man had gone to find the second, without a word from me, as he explained he knew I would want to see him. We three sat at a table, the meeting had been arranged by God!! These two brothers took down each other's room numbers and names and briefly shared their conversion experiences, both involving dreams and visions about Christ.
Then we joined hands, bowed our heads and prayed, thanking God for this wonderful meeting. Suddenly a fourth man, the Spanish speaking Christian fellowship leader, joined with us and prayed. After the amen, we all smiled a smile that can only be generated by knowing Christ. Four people from four different countries, languages, and cultures, and three religious backgrounds, with two being converted Muslims. Only Christ can bring peace and understanding like we had around that table. Praise God!!
Oh to be known as a mission that lifts up and magnifies the name of Jesus!!
The crew is so lucky to have you come on the ships. I have been working on ships for 8 years and I have never had anyone talk to me about God. Philippines
I was reading the book with the smart sentences. I want to find that again. Serbia
I have no religion. Why do you want me to have this book? China
I found the place. . .I look for Jesus for a very, very long time...Seward Center! Philippines
The world is changing. People are like white paper without the lines. Romania
You're my church when I am on the ship. India
Desperation is the motivation to stay 10 months. Philippines
Was Jesus successful in restoring the relationship between God and man? India
Jesus is our bridge to God--that is very true! Nepal
I want to find a place where I can reach up and touch heaven. Argentina
Thank you for your ship visitation. God is working mightily thru your efforts. Philippines
We would like to thank you all for giving us encourage at help in any things. It's really great blessing to all of us that we meet you all great people of God in Seaman's Mission. Indonesia
It is nice to have this kind of meeting, it enlightens your mind to talk about Jesus when you have problems. Philippines
Thanks for all the different ways you serve crew members. Your service to us is such a visible reminder of the love of Jesus. May you continue to serve in that spirit. United States
Anyway seaman mission been big help to us and were lucky and proud to now you guys, praise the lord. Phillipines
David and Ina Hawkins
Joe and Jeannette Seale
PO Box 2742
PO Box 143316
Seward, AK 99664
Anchorage, AK 99514