GET ON BOARD! Spring 2021

Ministry to Seafarers

Rev. Gary Roosma

401 E. Waterfront Rd. Vancouver, BC V6A 4G9


Facebook and Instagram: Ministry to Seafarers Vancouver

Email: crcvanportchaplain@gmail.com

In This Edition:

  • Dutch Connections
  • CRC Connections
  • Christmas at Sea
  • Ministry and COVID-19
  • Prayer Requests
  • Welcome Back Megan
  • Port Alberni
  • Video Update
The "Frisiana", a Dutch ship!

Dutch Connections

Meeting Dutch seafarers occurs only very rarely these days, nothing like 50-60 years ago when they were very common. Recently I boarded the Frisiana, a small Netherlands flagged ship owned and operated by the Boomsma Shipping Company. The only Dutchman on board was the captain, a Frieslander himself. We enjoyed coffee and good fellowship together more than once during their visit. The captain is pictured at the top of this newsletter with some of his crew.

A seafarer from the Philippines who is a fellow CRC member

CRC Connections

The same day I boarded the Frisiana, a Filipino seafarer visited our centre downtown. While chatting with him, he asked me, “Do you know anyone connected with the Christian Reformed Church?” I had wondered how long before I met someone from the Philippines CRC. I actually travelled with his former missionary pastor through parts of the Philippines way back in 1986, and even preached once in his home church in Iloilo City.

Christmas at Sea

In spite of the COVID-19 restrictions we were still able to deliver some 1400 Christmas gifts to nearly 70 ships here in Vancouver. Above are photos of visits to the first and last ships to receive gifts, along with a shot from our annual Christmas Eve delivery to the ships anchored out at English Bay and the Inner Harbour. It’s always a joy to see their exuberant smiles when the gifts arrive.

Merry Christmas!
Gary with some Indonesian Crew - Gary lived in Indonesia for a while before his time with the seafarers which makes meeting Indonesian crew a treat!

Ministry and COVID-19

As ship visiting to aid and assess seafarer welfare in the Port is considered an essential service, visits to ships all through the pandemic have carried on. Most ships are still not allowing seafarers to go ashore, though there are exceptions. Thus, the centres (downtown & Roberts Bank) remain open for service and are greatly appreciated by those who are able to come.

For the most part, however, we are focused on visits to the ships and meeting seafarers on board. We are still bringing care packages for each ship as a welcome, and since most can’t go ashore it does give them some of the treats that they miss – chips, chocolate, popcorn, and the like. Many of the crew are open to sharing their struggles as well, especially as they feel isolated on board (“in prison” is a term I hear fairly often).

Finances for this Ministry have been impacted by the pandemic as well. Classical ministry shares were fairly steady, but extra donations were down nearly 50%, and a similar decline occurred for Christmas at Sea donations.

All Masked Up!

Prayer Requests

Prayer is vital to the Ministry. When we tell seafarers we are praying for them it lights up their day. It shows them that we appreciate the hard work that they do, even though they are hundreds of miles away from their families and stuck at sea. It gives them peace and strength to know they are being prayed and cared for.

The late Fall, Winter, and early Spring season typically means rough seas, especially in the North Pacific where many of the ships that we visit pass through. Seafarers often arrive exhausted due to the poor sleeping conditions. When the seas are especially rough seafarers can even arrive traumatized. Pray for them through the storms, and all through this pandemic season as well.

Port Alberni

The Ministry committee in Port Alberni made the difficult decision late last year to close the Upper Room Seafarers Centre. A steep decline in ship traffic made rental of the centre no longer viable. Ministry there will continue, however, and we will continue to support that work in smaller ways as they will carry on with ship visits, gift giving, as well as some shopping and general care for seafarers going forward.

Welcome Back Megan!

Some of you will remember Megan Apperloo, who served as intern with this Ministry back in 2018. Megan has now joined the Ministry as our part-time “Development Assistant.” Her role will be to promote the Ministry more broadly and to help with some of the regular administrative matters. Thanks Megan!

I am so excited to be serving the Ministry again! I can't wait to see what the Lord has planned for us to further serve the Seafarers! - Megan

Video Update

Below is a short February update on the Ministry. We interviewed Seafarers to find out how they are doing in this time of Global Pandemic and what the Ministry means to them. Enjoy! For subtitles in the video below click the "cc" button on the right hand bottom corner.