Everyday around 100 ocean-going ships come to the port of Rotterdam. We have the privilege to be able to visit the seamen onboard 2-4 ships all year around five days a week, with occasional additional visits on weekends.
Our priority is the spiritual health of the seamen. We bring the good news of the Gospel to over 100 different nations and testify about our life with God. We also give away bibles and study guides, CD’s and DVD’s, and also flyers and books. We have a listening ear for this isolated group of people, give advice and challenge them to think about their life. Seamen who are already on their way with Jesus, we encourage and help them to continue. If we can, we offer to conduct bible studies on board. We also offer to pray for them, their families and the ship.
Most of the seamen can rarely leave their vessel while in port and so we try to help them in many practical ways. If some of the sailors are free, we offer free transportation to the beach, a town, shop, church or seafarers center in the area. We also assist them in sending money to their family.
From November to December, we bring more than 1000 Christmas gifts to some of the seamen who will not be able to be at home for Christmas. Many parcels are gift-wrapped shoeboxes made by friends from Germany or the Netherlands. The other part is funded by friends and will be packed by us. You can find sweets, USB-sticks with the Gospel, toilet articles and a warm woolen bonnet inside.
We want to be a friend to the seamen. to stay in contact with many seamen through e-mail and Facebook and as far as it is possible to visit them regularly aboard their ships. While visiting, we are not in a hurry and take time for the individual seaman. We offer counseling and provide a listening ear.
We try to revisit the ships when they return to Rotterdam. If a seaman has a practical need, he can also inform us ahead of time through e-mail or social media and we will provide help as soon as his ship arrives. Regular visits establish trust and real friendship with the seamen.
We are glad to connect seamen with port chaplains from other ports, if so desired. At the same time, we try to stay in contact with them personally through e-mail or social media. A helping tool are the stickers and business cards we leave on the ships.
If a seaman starts to study the bible correspondence courses (which are developed especially for seamen), we are glad to answer any questions.