WE read in James Chapter 2, verses 17: ‘So faith itself, if it has no works, is dead’.
The desire to do ‘works’ by faith, is one of the reasons why those involved with the Mission to Seafarers in 28 ports around Australia and over 260 around the world, extend a hand of friendship and support to all seafarers.
We provide transport, currency exchange, access to the internet and assistance with shopping, but importantly, caring for their welfare.
Seafarers frequently experience ‘touch deprivation’, a yearning for physical contact which arises from the isolation of their work and living environment.
Being at sea for eight or nine months and occasionally 12 months, means no physical contact with wives, children and family.
It means missing the birth of a baby, not seeing their children grow up and anxiety from not being at home in times of trouble, such as typhoons in the Philippines, earthquakes in China or floods in India.
Being at sea is a sacrifice that seafarers make to not only support their own family but also their extended families and in some cases their village. A concept that is quite alien to most of us.
Modern technology now allows visual contact with wives and children through the wonder of Skype. The internet service provided by mission centres is vital to the well being of all crew.
To share the experience of a seafarer talking to his wife and children via a laptop or smart phone, can be very emotional at times.
However, no amount of Skype contact can compensate for the lack of physical contact or home life.
When time permits, crews visiting Thevenard are offered a home visit and meal.
On returning to their ship, a handshake is often not enough, it is a hug that is wanted.
Many sail over the horizon and never return, but we have done the most rewarding of God’s work.
‘Those who go down to the sea in ships and follow their trade on great waters; they have seen the works of God…’ Psalm 107 verses 23-24.
Daine Burden, Mission to Seafarers lay chaplain