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Counseling and comfort to the ports of Melbourne, Australia

Irene Glase

For the past three years, Family International volunteers have been conducting spiritual counseling to seafarers in Melbourne, Australia.

Growing competition in the shipping industry means fast turnabouts, smaller crews, and reduced shore leave – all of which increases pressure on seafarers and restricts access to the welfare services they need to cope with the difficulties of life at sea. This grim picture emerges from a year-long study by The Seafarers International Research Centre at Cardiff University prepared by the ITF Seafarers Trust. Port based welfare services for seafarers is based on 4,000 responses to a survey to find out their welfare needs. The majority of crew members said that their welfare would be improved by ship visits. One Filipino seafarer stated, “It is part of our spiritual life. We need people to visit us to relieve our isolation – somebody coming to us and asking, how are you? How is your life here? Are things ok?”

The Activated magazine provides a treasure chest of inspiration and encouragement for these lonely folks. They offten sit down and pour over articles such as “Stress Relievers”, “Blessings from Battles”, and “Answers to Personal Situations”. One Papuan New Guinea crew member found an article which related to his family situation and he was very excited that God was speaking to him personally through the magazines.

Our volunteers conducted a prayer vigil on a container ship following the sad circumstances of a chief engineer who hung himself just before he was about to go home. The crew was in need of understanding and peace of mind to cope with this difficult situation relating to one of their friends. They were very appreciative of the positive, faith-building answers that Activated provides. While visiting a tanker, one seafarer immediately expressed how he was longing for someone to visit the ship to talk about spiritual things. On a follow-up visit to a car carrier, the captain explained how much he loved the magazines. His favorite articles were always the last page of each magazine, the “From Jesus with Love” section, and he keeps every issue in his office.

One Chief Officer was about to go home; he hadn’t been off the ship for the whole year-long contract. He had found an Activated magazine on the ship and approached me asking how he could subscribe. As I was leaving, he told me “You don’t know how much this visit means to me, I really needed it.”

On another ship, a crewmember told us “You are God’s encouragement to us.” A Singaporean captain emphasized “These magazines are just what my crew needs”. On a recent visit the captain wanted to talk extensively about spiritual things, and was very excited to have an assortment of magazines for himself and the crew.

Spiritual counseling for these sailors is a great need, and the Activated magazine is a perfect source of positive inspiration and faith building material to help the crew members to rise above their difficult physical circumstances. Activated Ministries’ sponsorship is very much appreciated as it allows us to distribute these valuable magazines free of charge to hundreds of appreciative international seafarers.