Monday, 14 July 2014

Sea Sunday and Abandoned ships

Yesterday our church celebrated 'Sea Sunday' - an opportunity to look at the work of the mission to seafarers (and those engaged in the wonderfully broad world of merchant maritime activity).

The focus of the the service was that of 'abandoned ships' - not something that results from a 'Women and children first' scenario but something much more sinister and concern making.

Let me explain:

Depending upon source we live in a world where 86-90% of the goods and foodstuffs that enter or leave our nation (the UK) do so by means of shipping. One result of the financial downturn has been an increase in owners abandoning their vessels, often because of expensive failures or just because the cash has run out.

Imagine the situation when a land-based company folds. The management come in and tell the workers that they've gone bankrupt and then they turn off the equipment, send the workers home and then lock the building up.

Now transpose this to a maritime setting. What happens when the fuel oil runs out and the engines and generators fail? No propulsion or electricity, air conditioning, pumps and stuff to support life on the vessel! Even if do have enough fuel oil to make port, when you get there there's no money to pay for the pilot or a berth, so you're stranded and holding off. There's no money for food or water and you're not being paid - so what do your family live on - and if you do manage to land, if you're on a vessel with a 'flag of convenience' you will probably be blown off by your own consulate or embassy staff too. The situation is hopeless.

The ILO's 'Abandonment of Seafarers Database' contained almost 150 abandoned vessels a couple of months back - and this is a shocking and often unknown situation if you aren't in this world (or have relatives who are affected). And this is where the Mission to Seafarers comes in foir the visit ships, provide Bibles, support for those in abandoned vessels, help for those who otherwise wouldn't be in contact with family and friends for months by providing mobile (and internet) communication, assist with medical emergencies and more beside.

So, can I encourage you to have a look at their website and perhaps consider:

Support them financially  - because this is people taking God's love to those who work at sea.

Pray for seafarers - because it's an area many of us take for granted and are ignorant of.

Give them an invite - to come and talk, lead a service and help you (and your congregation) become better informed.

ILO - International Labour Organisation 

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