Supporting The Seamen’s Christian Friend Society
Posted by Gary O’Rourke, 15 November 2019
Within Biblica Europe, we are delighted to work with a range of partner ministries and publishers across the UK, Europe and further afield. We regularly receive sample bibles from these ministries which we keep for archive purposes. But from time to time we are delighted to be able to pass on some of these to other ministries working in the UK and beyond. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing stories of three different ministries who are doing fantastic work getting the Word of God into the hands of those who need it. Below you can read more about the Bibles that went to The Seamen’s Christian Friend Society.
Sam Cowan, Seamen’s Christian Friend Society (SCFS), is the Port Chaplain/Missionary for the Ports in Belfast, Warrenpoint and Larne. The 1st November 2019 marked 20 years in this role for Sam, though the Society has been offering the hand of friendship to the seafaring community for much longer, since 1846. Their missionaries go on board ships when they come into harbour and spend time with the sailors, talking to them about spiritual issues and helping to address their physical and emotional welfare.
SCFS have had an ongoing relationship with Biblica Europe over several years. Speaking about the Bibles Sam said “Many of the folks that I meet come from all around the world. Patrick Johnstone (Operation World) told us that, as a Society, we were working with an unreached people group (seafarers). Many come from lands where the church is persecuted. It is a blessing to give a seafarer a Bible. Some take them to improve their English, others ask for the Bible to help them search for the meaning of life. It is a particular delight when we are able to give someone a Bible in their own language.”
In more recent years, Belfast has become a destination for cruise ships. In 2019, approximately 150 cruise ships and an estimated 285,000 visitors docked in Belfast. On one occasion, when Sam had boarded one of these cruise ships, a lady saw a booklet in her own language. Sam said that she could have it and also offered her a Bible in her language. Recounting her reaction, Sam said “Her face lit up. She was overjoyed. She went back to the table she was sitting at and said, “I cannot believe that that I left my country of Romania to come to Belfast to get a Bible!””.
As it happened the person she was sitting beside, a man from the Philippines, was a Christian and he invited the lady to come to a Bible Fellowship meeting on Sunday.
Sam can tell many stories of seafarers and members of their families who have put their faith in Jesus as a result of that seafarer receiving a Bible. It is not unusual for seafarers to come to Sam asking for Bibles for themselves and for their wives and family. Some of the Bibles have gone to Bible Fellowships on board ship for new attendees, so that they too can have a Bible.
Working with Biblica is very important to The Seamen’s Christian Friend Society as otherwise we would struggle to fulfil our role getting the Word of Life into the hands of the seafarers that visit our ports. In Touch Ministries have this saying which is my prayer and summarises what I desire to do in our Ports. “We want to touch the World with the Word of God. We do so because we are Motivated by a Passion for God and a Compassion for people.”
Within Biblica Europe, we are delighted to know that Bibles which would otherwise be sitting on our shelves, have gone far from our own shores through the amazing work of The Seamen’s Christian Friend Society.