Charity of the Month – The Mission to Seafarers
July’s Charity of the Month is The Mission to Seafarers. In towns and cities around the world, men and women seafarers are saying goodbye to their families as they embark on year-long contracts at sea. In ports around the world, seafarers and stevedores conduct the daily rhythm of loading boxes bound for far-off lands. In churches around the world, people gather to thank God for the important work that seafarers do in order for us to live our everyday lives.
It is all too easy to forget the seafarers who bring us so much. We rely on them for our food, our clothes, our petrol and our cars. In fact, in the United Kingdom, seafarers are responsible for bringing us over 90 per cent of our daily needs. Yet, because they are only in port for a few hours, coupled with the long hours they work and the isolation a seafarer can feel when in a port miles from the nearest town, it is easy to push them to the backs of our minds.
The shipping industry has changed considerably over the years but the problems that seafarers face continue. Seafarers still lose their lives in shipping accidents or suffer the abuse of non-payment of wages; piracy is a major problem. That is why the support of The Mission to Seafarers can make all the difference to their lives and working environments.
As an international mission agency of the Anglican Church, The Mission to Seafarers, with its familiar “Flying Angel” flag, reaches out to the 1.2 million seafarers that man the merchant fleet with a message of love and hope in a harsh and often inhospitable environment.
In 200 ports in 50 countries Mission chaplains and staff visit seafarers on their ships extending a hand of friendship and help in times of crisis. In over 100 ports, The Mission to Seafarers operates the “Flying Angel” seafarers’ centres. These are inviting places in the middle of dull, featureless docksides. Inside, crewmembers can make the most of their limited time ashore by replenishing essential items from our shops, celebrating Communion and fellowship in our chapels and, crucially, they can use our telephones and computers to keep in touch with their loved ones thousands of miles away.
Whilst the large majority of ship owners treat their seafaring staff well, there is still a rogue minority that do not. Seafarers have been stranded on vessels in ports with no idea how long they’ll be there. Some go for months with no pay, not enough food and fresh water. In these situations, local representatives of the Mission work with ships’ agents and other partners to bring resolution and comfort to crews.
The Mission to Seafarers is funded entirely by voluntary donations. During July, please pray for its work as it engages with seafarers in ports around the world and give generously towards the continuation and development of this work in the future. This year’s Sea Sunday is on 9th July and provides a particular focus for our prayers and donations.
A prayer for seafarers:
Almighty God, creator of the oceans and seas, bless and protect all those who sail the seas to bring us the food, clothes, necessities and luxuries we use in our daily lives. Keep them safe from storms, loneliness and many hazards they face in their lives at sea until they are reunited with their loved ones at home. Look after and protect their families as they wait for them and help us daily to remember seafarers with grateful hearts. We pray this in the name of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who stilled the waters of Lake Galilee and still controls the seas and oceans today. Amen