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Counseling and comfort to ship crewmembers in Melborne, Australia

Irene Glase

The Activated magazines have been a wonderful source of encouragement and inspiration to countless seafarers whose ships arrive in Melbourne each day of the week. Having an assortment of magazines creates a library for the ships so that any new crewmember can be encouraged as the ship docks at ports all over the world. Thank you, Activated Ministries, for fulfilling a need for spiritual and emotional encouragement for these seafarers, who are often separated from their loved ones for long periods of time.

The Nautilus International Telegraph, Nov. 2009 states “Seafarers face a complex range of healthand welfare issues including considerable levels of stress, discrimination,excessive working hours, reduced crewing and often poor standards of crew accommodation and communication equipment. Seafaringis one of the loneliest and most dangerous jobs in the world but sadly the workof seafarers is often forgotten by the public at large.”

The loneliness and lack of contact with family and friends, combined with little shore leave when the ships are docked, cause anxiety in many crewmembers. Today’s security measures and port turnaround times have meant seafarers have even less time on shore. Chaplains and ship visitors are returning to the mission’s roots by adopting more extensive ship visiting programs, insuring that they are responding to the needs of the seafarers by being present in the places where they are needed the most.

Reactions to the Activated magazine:

“I really want to know about the Bible” said a chief mate who grabbed five magazines and poured over them for two hours in his office “maybe I can learn something”, he told us. His ship had recently gone through Somalia (a dangerous pirate area) and the crew hadn’t been paid for three months.

Another asked for a subscription to be sent to his wife and said: “She is afraid at home by herself with the kids. Maybe this magazine will help her”.

From a young Papua New Guinea seafarer, whose father had a heart attack and died on another ship, “I will read these magazines tonight. God’s word gives me strength.” He is the only working sibling left from 7 children. “These magazines are what we need. They give you a warm feeling of being close to God.” He had taken the magazines to his wife and she loved them, so on my return visit to the ship he signed her up for a subscription.

A text message I received from a crewmember: “Thank you for visiting our ship. You helped get me back on God’s track and I was renewed by your words. You show me again the way to God. Please don’t get tired of your mission.”

Reaction from a crewmember who was suffering from panic attacks and had contemplated jumping overboard: “I have been OK since we talked. You are my angel. I almost lost hope but now I am starting to look on the bright side again. I’ve been in the dark for a long time. There are so many questions and heartaches deep inside of me but now I feel strong. Thank God for sending someone like you in my life. It’s just been minutes since talking to you but I will treasure it forever. I hope my progress will continue. My wife cried for joy when I told her what happened in my life.God bless you!”