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Young Philippino seafarer Ric says his visit to the Geraldton Mission to Seafarers Centre — a ministry of the North West Anglican Diocese — literally saved his life.
During shore leave, Ric visited the Centre which is often the only onshore hospitality seafarers receive, and where our chaplains provide practical care and support.
Chaplain Wayne Sutton gave Ric a cadet pack which included Christian literature. Miraculously, the good news of Jesus shone a light into Ric’s hopelessness.
A few days after leaving port Wayne received an email thanking him for “a simple act of kindness which means everything.”
“The gift you gave me has done a lot for me,” Ric wrote. “The contents were very much appreciated – but the Luke’s Gospel was very special. It saved my life. Though I did not tell you this, I was feeling very lonely away from my family and thought nobody cared for seafarers.
“At times when I was alone I was considering disappearing at sea. Your gift showed me that someone cares about me. I have been reading the Gospel about Jesus and find it a good companion when alone in my cabin.”
Wayne says he shed tears of joy that God had saved Ric and provided ongoing comfort for him through the Lord Jesus.
“I really do appreciate what seafarers do,” Wayne says. “They have a difficult life with up to nine months at sea at a time, long shifts and sometimes shipping companies that treat seafarers as an expendable commodity.
“It’s especially hard for cadets who are still adjusting to this tough life.”
The North West Diocese reaches out to 6500 seafarers a month through Mission to Seafarer Centres at Port Hedland, Dampier and Geraldton and with our ship visiting program.
“It’s a great privilege to serve seafarers with practical care and support. We give out Bibles and Christian literature in a range of languages and I pray for all the men I have met,” Wayne said.
Chris was living in his car when he turned up at St Matthew’s church in Port Hedland last year.
I think he was a bit embarrassed by his situation.
But he accepted our invitation to use church kitchen and bathroom facilities while he looked for work to get back on his feet.
Since then Chris has met Jesus and his life has been transformed. He says: "I don’t know where I would be if it wasn’t for the people at St Matthew’s giving me a helping hand.
“Without Jesus keeping me and protecting me I would be lost. He is my Saviour and Lord and I know that when I die I will go to be with him because he died on the cross for my sins."
Chris has experienced the love of Jesus through practical love and care from many church members. He has learned about the gospel as we have studied the word together each week and he has experienced God’s great power and comfort through prayer.
Eventually Chris obtained some casual work and was able to rent a flat with help from church members. Life was looking up, when suddenly, he had a massive heart attack and was airlifted to Perth for open heart surgery.
Yet, during this time he was not alone. Chris talked a lot to God in hospital, thanking God for keeping him alive.
He came home to a fridge and pantry full of food from Christian friends. We visited him daily, took him shopping and to medical appointments.
Chris is a wonderful encouragement for our congregation. He is always thankful. He is generous with his time and is always up to helping anyone who needs it.
Each week Chris joins us for dinner followed by the Bible study group at our home. He has become part of our family, both spiritually and physically. I feel privileged that he is part of St Matthew’s and I praise God that he is our brother in Christ.
The discipleship program at Geraldton has helped teens grow in their faith and overcome challenges including Year 12 exams, death of a loved one and family upheaval.
Geraldton Cathedral Children and Youth Minister Rev Eion Simmons and a group of servant-hearted young adults help nurture the teens’ faith through ‘Regenerate’—a weekly Bible study, and Friday youth group.
“We don’t have shining lights, pumping music or huge numbers. But we prayerfully trust God’s word to do God’s work by God’s Spirit. And in God’s kindness we’re seeing our youth grow,” Eion says.
Year 10 student Justin de Vries has been built up by the fellowship, the challenging discussions as they study the scriptures together, and the trustworthy leaders.
“The studies have made me more motivated to read my Bible and study in my own time because I wanted to learn more.” Justin gained support from these Christian friends when his muchloved Nanna passed away suddenly.
“I feel like the leaders are people I can really trust so if I ever have anything going on in my life, I can really talk to them.”
Tom Grice says the fellowship and constant hope of God’s love helped him focus on the workload preparing for final year 12 exams. Anneka Spackman has relied upon the fellowship to help see her through change as her parents began ministering in a new church and she moved both home and school.