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Seafarers! The postmen you didn’t know you have!

Dear friends,

Maritime transport and the international shipping industry are essential to the world’s economy. Over 90% of world trade is carried by sea and it is, by far, the most cost-effective way to move large quantities of goods and raw materials around the world. Without shipping, the import/export of affordable food and goods would not be possible – half the world would starve and the other half would freeze!

There are over 50,000 merchant ships trading internationally, transporting every kind of cargo. The world fleet is registered in over 150 nations, and manned by over a million seafarers of virtually every nationality.

The majority of seafarers (men as well as women work at sea) come from poor countries, and they work at sea to provide for their extended families back home. In the past, 1 or 2 year long contracts at sea were common. Nowadays many still spend 9 months at sea without any holidays and then they go home for 3, and back for another 9 months. In 30 years of life at sea, many may only have been able to spend a total of 5 years at home with their families. Just think of the loneliness, struggles, temptations and sacrifice involved. Not to mention the unforeseen dangers of accident, fatigue, malnutrition, storms, pirates etc etc

Seafarers are indeed a forgotten people group, unseen by most of the world’s population, but without whom cruise liners couldn’t sail, oil tankers would be empty, car carriers would stop sailing, bananas would remain in their country of origin and everything made in China would stay in China! They are the taxi-men and women of the sea, and the postal delivery before it reaches your postman. Seafarers and awareness of them is a strategic missionary vision. The hearts of seafarers are open to the Good News of the Gospel, and no matter which religious background they come from we are able to befriend and help them in many ways.

In Cork we have met seafarers from over 100 countries, and some of these are ones where missionaries struggle to visit. It has been amazing to become a friend to so many and speak into their lives since 2006. The Seamen’s Christian Friend Society (SCFS) is an international, non-denominational and evangelical Seamen’s Mission. It is a UK registered charity and was founded in 1846. My colleague in Hamburg, Martin Otto, has written a few books, but two I would recommend to anyone who is interested are: ‘Seafarers! A Strategic Missionary Vision’ and ‘Church on the Oceans’.

Here are a few extracts from ‘Seafarers’ to whet your appetite:

“The ocean rages and roars, unlike anything the seafarers have experienced before. Huge waves roll over the ship. A seaman sent to check the security of the containers on deck is seized by a great wave and thrown into the sea. How terrifying! But the next wave throws him back on board. This African understands God’s message . . .

Moses, the radio officer of his ship, is looking forward to being back home with his family. He is on his last journey which takes him through the perilous and dreaded Biscaya. Suddenly horror is written on the faces of the crew – the engines have broken down! And right in the midst of a wind-force of 12! The ship becomes a plaything for the waves. Twenty seafarers, among them Moses, lose their lives when the River Guara sinks

. . . Tables, chairs and dishes go flying through the air. The lifeboat is torn from its anchoring. Loud shouts are heard everywhere. The River Adada struggles in a desperate fight for survival. There’s only one hope – prayer! Muslims as well as Christians plead to God for their lives. Everyone is saved and three Muslims convert to Christianity when they see how clearly God answers prayer . . .”

To give a feeling for what it is like on board here is a short (just over 1 min long) video clip taken recently on board a bulk carrier. The crew were Indians and Filipinos. Thanks for praying for us and all your wonderful support!

God bless you! With much love, Colin, Sunhwa, Aidan and Jenai.

http://www.scfs.org

http://www.facebook.com/scfs1

http://www.facebook.com/seafarerz

Release Conference Countdown!

Release Conference Countdown!

4 DAYS TO GO until our Word and Spirit Conference, ‘Release’! We are so excited to hear what Mark Melluish has to say to us on what it looks like for us to seek more of God’s Word and Spirit in our lives and to release the enormous potential of the local church to change lives. In his keynote talks he will explore ho
w we can be more available to God and how we can continue to impact our local communities with the gospel.

Day: Saturday 25th February 2017

Where: High Kirk Presbyterian Church, Ballymena

Time: Session 1: 10am Building for Tomorrow Today

Session 2: 11.45am Creating open and healthy Churches

Session 3: 7.30pm Keeping in Step with the Spirit

Who for: Both members of High Kirk and anyone who wishes to attend!

Cost: Free!!

We’d love to see you there!

Stand in the Gap

Stand in the Gap

Ezekiel 22:30: I looked for someone to stand up for me against all this, to repair the defences of the city to take a stand for me and stand in the gap to protect this land… I couldn’t find anyone. Not one.

Care for Cambodia (CFC) is an NGO focused on education. It works towards community development throughout rural Cambodia by providing supplementary teaching, educational resources and university scholarships to Cambodia’s most needy children and young people. CfC’s vision is to see Cambodians, young and old alike, caring for one another so that they might enjoy life and have opportunities to reach their individual and corporate potential.

More information on the organisation can be found here:                                    www.careforcambodia.org.kh

www.facebook.com/cfc.careforcambodia

CfC is committed to a ‘bottom up’ development model; we seek to empower locals, giving them the opportunity to participate in management and decision-making about organisational strategy and in the selection of priorities to be pursued in their local area. CfC seeks to build local capacity so as to leave a sustainable long-term development legacy.

However, any developing country has areas of need that are not met by locals; this is the cause of stagnancy in progress and growth. Where such areas are identified in CfC’s structures, foreign help is sought and appreciated.  Mission work is slowly moving away from the model of short-term teams meeting short-term needs.  CfC seeks individuals who can contribute to long term solutions who, regardless of the length of their trip, will leave behind a positive benefit that will be long-lasting.

As an organization, CfC seeks that Cambodia is full of people with the capacity to care for children, complete manual labour tasks, manage administration projects – some of these roles are historically the remit of mission teams.  We want to change this model and accordingly offer employment in those areas to engaged, enthusiastic, positive, ambitious locals. These are the people who will remain long after the short-term mission volunteer returns to their home country.  We do need help in other areas, however. Namely, these areas include: English teachers, writers (of reports and information for interested parties), administrators (for submission of requests for access to international aid funds), designers (for advertising brochures or multimedia), photographers, videographers, creators of training resources, teachers of teachers etc.  The opportunities are many and varied, please inquire as to how your skills may be used.

These jobs maybe are not ‘front line’ jobs; they may not be regarded as particularly action-packed or meaningful. And yet, these are the gaps. These are the areas where you could leave a legacy benefit long after you leave.  And we need will participants to fill them in order that CfC might be an agent of meaningful trans-formative social change.

Can you stand in the gap with us?

 

Release- Word and Spirit Conference

Release- Word and Spirit Conference

At High Kirk we are on the countdown to our Word and Spirit conference on 25th February 2017. This year we’ve called it ‘Release’ as we think about our God given gifting and how we as the church can be released into our work places, communities and town with the love of Jesus!

Our speaker is Mark Melluish.                                                                                                                                                

Mark is the Senior Pastor at St.Paul’s Ealing in London. He is married to Lindsay and has five children. He is also part of the Leadership Team of New Wine, a network of over 700 churches which prioritises living out God’s Word in the power of His Spirit. Mark has a heart for local church outreach and will be encouraging us to seek more of God’s Word and Spirit in our lives and to release the enormous potential of the local church to change lives. In his keynote talks he will explore how we can be more available to God and how we can continue to impact our local communities with the gospel.

This conference is not just for members of High Kirk but all are welcome, so feel free to invite your friends and family as we all pursue God together!  

The weekend will run as follows:

Saturday 25th February 2017          

10.00am Worship and Session 1: Building for tomorrow today                                                                                            

11.15am Coffee                                                                                                                                                            

11.45am Worship and Session 2: Creating open and healthy churches                                                                      

1.00pm Morning session ends                                                                                                                                      

7.30pm Worship and Session 3: Keeping in step with the Spirit 

James Russell from Willowfield Church will be leading us in worship throughout the day!

Sunday 26th February 2017

On Sunday we will continue the theme as Mark Melluish will speak at our 9.30am & 11.30am Services. We will be looking at Trusting God for our future – Ephesians 1:15-23.

 We would love to see you there!  (All Sessions are Free)

Stand in the Gap

People, People Everywhere

As soon as you arrive in Nigeria you are overwhelmed with people. People are everywhere, sometimes working, other times standing around and often talking & laughing extremely loudly, or travelling – Nigerians love to travel. Rarely is there an empty street – except in a rain storm. Rarely is there peace and quiet – as soon as it is light someone could be knocking on your door, sometimes just to say hallo, often needing some kind of help.

With Rev Dr Mipo Dadang, lecturer at Jos ECWA Theological Seminary and ACTS author

Nigerian society is complicated with 450 different languages spoken although Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo are the main trade languages, and English is the national language. Religious differences also divide with Christianity and Islam each claiming about 50% of the population, plus a good mix of syncretism. Both main religions are increasingly fundamentalist, leading to repeated clashes in central and northern Nigeria, and Islam’s violent Salafist wing spawning the Boko Haram terrorist insurgency in the north-east. Attacks on the oil business in the Niger Delta area & clashes between Muslim Fulani nomads and Christian farmers in central Nigeria add to the uncertainty. Sadly, Nigeria is known for corruption, which the current government likes to portray itself as combatting.

Since the 1960s the Nigerian church has grown enormously. Just over half of the 189 million Nigerians now claim to be Christians; a century ago maybe 5% of the then 20 million population would have been Christians. The ECWA church, which stems from SIM’s 124-year ministry in Nigeria, claims about 6 million members and adherents, the Anglicans about 17 million. Rapid church growth is wonderful, but it creates two major issues. First of all, how do you teach all of these new believers? Secondly, how do you provide the information church leaders need in order to teach their flocks? The answer to both questions is good Christian literature.

Acts Board & Management November 2016

In the early 1990s Africa Christian Textbooks (ACTS) was set up to meet these needs, previous enterprises having basically collapsed with little available to buy. We now have 12 well stocked shops, a book van and the publishing work I have headed up since 2010. While I use e-mail and the internet to do most of my publishing work at home in Ballymena, I travel to Nigeria twice a year for management and board meetings, and to see authors.

 

Thus in November 2016 I spent some time with 4 authors but most of my time was in meetings with colleagues as we sorted out various management issues. Thankfully we made a slight profit in 2016, but 2017 is going to be very difficult as the Nigerian economy is in a deep recession, the value of the Naira is dropping dramatically forcing prices sharply upwards, and many people haven’t been paid for months. ACTS is also going through a major leadership change as Sid Garland, our Director has resigned due to his wife Jean’s deteriorating health.

In addition, I am an SIM Nigeria missionary and I have been assisting SIM Nigeria in recruiting new missionaries for work in the far north of Nigeria. I have also many years of experience in theological education in Nigeria so I am also discussing the possibility of my teaching modular courses at some of the ECWA seminaries.

Good craic in an Acts management meeting

The Lord called me to serve Him with the words, “How shall they hear without a preacher…” And then He sent me to Nigeria where there are so many people who need to hear the Gospel, and so many who need to be built up in their faith. And that is what missionary work so often is; using all means available to reach people with the Gospel so that they in turn can reach others with that same message of life.