The Mission to Seafarers: Helping People in One of the World’s Toughest Jobs   – Hope 103.2

The Mission to Seafarers:
Helping People in One of the World’s Toughest Jobs  

By Clare BruceWednesday 20 Mar 2019

If you are interested in overseas missions and ministry but want to dip your toe in the water locally – and are good with IT, social media, admin or people skills, Mission to Seafarers could be the opportunity you’re looking for…

Imagine being in a job where you can’t go home for a whole year. You work often in cramped, stifling conditions, and all of your eating, resting, recreation and sleeping, is done alongside your colleagues.

You do a lot of overtime, you can’t phone your loved ones for weeks on end, and if you have a conflict with a workmate or a superior, there’s no escape.

Oh – and sometimes there are pirates to contend with.

This is no imaginary job; it is the life of a seafarer.

Seafarers are the lifeblood of the shipping industry. They are the 1.6 million men and women – (but at 98 percent, mostly men) – who keep cargo ships, cruise liners, gas tankers and trawlers going on the oceans year-round.

Most come from the Philippines, China, Indonesia, the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

When you think of how many products come to Australian on ships – cars from Japan, laptops and smartphones from China, clothing from India, shoes from Vietnam, whitegoods, Amazon purchases and imported food, just for starters – you realise how much we rely on these people.

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Mission to Seafarers, Reaching Out With Love Every Day

Working as a seafarer is a tough and often lonely life, and that’s why there’s a Christian ministry set up especially to meet their needs: the Mission to Seafarers. Every day, Christian staff and volunteers from Mission to Seafarers spend time with ship crews in ports all around the world, providing practical help, emotional and spiritual support, and friendship.

In Sydney, three Mission to Seafarers mini-buses head to Port Botany each day to pick up anyone who wants a break from their workplace. This gives them a chance to head to the mission headquarters, share their struggles or prayer needs, drop into shopping centres, or simply chat and take time out.

Chaplains also go onboard ships to help crew through difficult times, and to spend time with those who are unable to get shore leave.

Reverend Tay, principal chaplain at the Sydney chapter explained the work of a seafarer is not easy.

“For those who want to go overseas for missions, this is a great place to do training, because seafarers are from all over the world.”

“Seafarers work long hours, and live on board 24/7 and work overtime. It can be very exhausting,” he said.  “Life on board is difficult. They face isolation, loneliness, depression, and mental health issues at times. The suicide rate among seafarers is four times higher than for normal citizens. Their life is very tough because they work nine to 12 months aboard the vessels.

“They are very appreciative of what we’re doing.”

Mission to Seafarers in Sydney currently needs new volunteers to help in IT, website maintenance, social media, and ministry.

Reverend Tay said working with Mission to Seafarers is a great opportunity for cross-cultural outreach and mission.

“For those who want to go overseas for short term and long term missions, this is a great place where they can come in and do training because seafarers are from all over the world,” he said. “They can learn how to relate to them, share with them, listen to them.”

The Mission to Seafarers in Sydney operates daily from 2 pm to 10 pm. Learn more about the organisation at their website or email and you can call the Sydney mission on (02) 9241 3009.

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