The Ministry to Seafarers (M2S)

A Peak at the Chaplain's VISA Bill

A Peak at the Chaplain's CC Bill

Great news! Our chaplain's most recent credit call bill was for $3424.95. At first glance, the charges probably look like most people's and include purchases at the pharmacy, grocery store, Apple store, coffee shop, department store and online retailers.

Plenty of people have written about the topic of spending and what it reveals about us. There are literally more than 1 billion search results for the topic, "if you want to know what someone values look at how they spend their money."

So why is this credit card bill great news? Pause a moment. It's been 11 weeks since the  world locked itself down. Think of the impact that has had on you. You can barely see out of your eyes anymore because you're in desperate need of a haircut. Maybe the kids are driving you batty or vice versa. You line up now to get groceries and your home office is causing a back ache. You still haven't gotten used to wearing a mask in public. I've also missed 11 funerals because of the pandemic.

OK, back to the great news. Our chaplain has racked up expenses on behalf of seafarers who face all the frustrations you face, in addition to not being able to access shore leave in ports or go home at the end of their contracts. (Translation: They can't run their own errands.) The credit card charges make us happy because we're still fulfilling our mission to reflect the love of Jesus to seafarers docking in the Port of Montreal. We're serving their needs and being their hands and feet while they are stuck on board.
What these purchases tell me about seafarers is that they are humans, just like you and me. They need to replace their phones, they enjoy comfort food, they appreciate a quintessentially Canadian cup of coffee and they like to buy gifts for their family back home.

#ShoreLeaveNow

Seafarers are resourceful people. Normally they run their own errands in ports around the world. They've learned to negotiate strange cities, currencies and languages to find what they need. They rarely complain and they're very thankful for any help provided.

But since the pandemic, borders have closed, travel has been restricted and they are stuck on their floating vessels proverbially drifting from port to port. They work seven days/week and their contract "end dates" have all but disappeared.  Perhaps this sounds reasonable to some given these extenuating circumstances. But then ask yourself why cruise ship passengers and other travellers were repatriated and seafarers were not. It's a question of justice and we have turned a blind eye.

Seafarers need to go home soon; but they need shore leave nowThey need to step foot on land, see different people and take a much needed mental break from their work and possibly, their co-workers. We are working hard with the authorities and government bodies to reopen the Seafarers' Centre in Montreal.  We are also pushing for all centres in Canada to reopen. We hope that good news will be announced soon. But in the meantime, we lament with seafarers who have been forgotten, overlooked, abandoned or ignored by their employers or governments. We stand with them and we believe that their lives are as important as anyone's. We are committed to justice for seafarers and we want to be a part of their fair treatment in Montreal.

#SeafarersMatter

We have seen the global village do incredible things when working together. We call on the countries of the world to find a way to work together in order to solve the travel challenges faced by seafarers. Global shipping is here to stay.  The marine traffic graphic above starkly conveys our dependence on the movement of goods. But if we move goods at the expense of people, we are headed for disaster.

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
    what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
    be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously—
    take God seriously . Micah 6:8, MSG (emphasis added)

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