Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Seafarer Center Volunteer takes top spot at Senior Games!

Wilson Greenfield, we know him as Mr. Wilson, has been volunteering at the Seafarer Center for about 12 years now. He does all of the ship visits at what we call Port Tampa which is across town near MacDill Air Force Base. It is not uncommon to get a call from a ship’s captain and have him ask us if we can send Mr. Wilson over to see them. They all love Mr. Wilson! This last month Mr. Wilson competed in the 2013 Tampa Bay Senior Games and took the Overall Male award. He competed in Bowling, Darts, Pool, Basketball, Corn Toss, Horse Shoes, Shot Put, Disc, and Run and Jump. Besides visiting the ships for us Mr. Wilson also collects aluminum cans and in the last 10 years or so has collected over 970,000 aluminum cans which he has sold for over $17,000, all of which he has given to support either the seafarers or some other charitable cause. Mr. Wilson is an Air Force veteran and we are proud of his service to both the Country and to the Seafarers. Mr. Wilson and his lovely bride will celebrate 49 years of marriage on November 6th. Mr. Wilson is a member of First Baptist Church of Port Tampa. Oh, I almost forgot… Mr. Wilson turned 83 years old on October 1st of this year!!! Below is Mr. Wilson with his trophy and him playing ping pong with some Seafarers.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Hospitality: Part of our Christian Character.

In September I had the pleasure of going on my first cruise. It was aboard the Carnival cruise ship Paradise. It was particularly fun because that is one of the cruise ships I get to go on as a Chaplain while they are in port so I knew many of the crew members. The thing that stood out to me the most about the cruise was the efforts of the crew to make me feel welcome, comfortable, entertained and special. I mentioned this to my friend Richard who is from the Philippines and works on the Paradise. He responded that it is all about hospitality. Now that is a word I have never really thought of much and since I have been back I keep thinking about what he said. It is all about hospitality. You know we are told throughout the Bible that as Christians one of the marks of our character is that we are to be given to hospitality. In other words we are to show hospitality to others. That includes both those we know and strangers as well. Jesus laid it out for us in Matthew chapter 25 when he discussed hospitable behavior. Not all of the crew members on the Paradise are Christians but they all bear this mark of hospitality in their character. Think about the difference we could all make in this world if we too would daily show this same hospitality to those around us. As Christians it is supposed to be a mark of our character. Here is a picture of the group of Christians we get to work with on the Carnival Legend. A picture of hospitality!!!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What happened when Hugo Chavez got saved?

No, not Hugo Chavez the former Venezuelan president but Hugo Chavez my friend the Peruvian who works onboard one of the cruise ships. While Hugo was working on the cruise ship he accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior and became a Christian. Hugo was eager to learn all he could about Christ and to share his new faith with all he came in contact with including his family. Hugo would often visit me while I was on his ship and look for any new Gospel tracts that I might have. He explained to me that he was emailing the information home to his wife because she was not a Christian and he wanted to see her accept Jesus Christ as Savior too. Well as time went on Hugo left on vacation and then resumed his career on other vessels but from time to time he kept in touch by phone or text. One day in October of 2012 I received a text message from Hugo praising God because his wife had finally understood the Gospel and accepted Jesus as her Savior. He was so excited and so was I when he shared the news with me. Praise the Lord!!! From time to time I would run into other Seafarers from Peru and I would ask them if they knew of Hugo Chavez and many of them had crossed paths with him on other ships and they told me he was the guy that was running the Bible study on the ship. Just this last July I received another excited text from Hugo letting me know that his daughter now has also accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior. Hugo said “Thanks to the Lord, God is working in my home and my life.” God’s offer of salvation through his Son Jesus Christ is open to everyone and Hugo Chavez has done a good job of carrying that message around the world and most importantly to his family. Praise the Lord!!!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Vision, Mission and Dreams

Vision, Mission and Dreams - “Far more important than having a mission and vision statement is having a clear mission and vision!” Without a clear mission or vision it is difficult to identify if you are operating your life consistently with your values. We all have values but are they clear and are we living according to them. Visions and dreams help us to become more and having visions and dreams can add clarity to our lives. My favorite quote on dreams is the one from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his speech “I have a dream.” My favorite part is that he states “I have a dream”. I think far too many people can’t say “I have a dream.” My favorite quote on vision comes from the Bible. Proverbs 29:18 speaks to me when it says “Where there is no vision the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” Matthew Henry gives a good commentary on this verse when he writes: “How bare does a place look without Bibles and ministers! And what an easy prey is it to the enemy of souls! That gospel is an open vision, which holds forth Christ, which humbles the sinner and exalts the Saviour, which promotes holiness in the life and conversation: and these are precious truths to keep the soul alive, and prevent it from perishing.” Take a moment today and reflect upon you vision, mission and dreams. Are they written down? If not take some time to put them in writing. Are you living your life consistenly with them? If not identify the gaps and consider ways you can begin to close those gaps so your values line up with your actions. Your vision, mission and dreams don’t have to be public but they can provide for you privately motivation and inspiration to exceed your self imposed limitations.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Captain Tony found the fountain of youth!

I visited a vessel today and at the top of the gangway met the Captain of the ship. He escorted me to the crew mess room where I generally can meet with crew members, talk to them and sometimes get to eat some cool food. Captain Tony explained to me that most of the crew were working and that some had already gone shopping but he sat down with me and we had a nice conversation about his ship and the crew. As I always try to do I worked our conversation around to talking about Jesus and I asked Captain Tony if he knew he would go to heaven if he died. He said boldly yes and then proceeded to tell me that this is the promise we have from God if we trust in Jesus Christ as our Saviour. He also talked to me about the fact that he felt an obligation to share this knowledge with the rest of his crew so they have regular Bible studies on board the ship. I don’t often encounter crews that are this active in their faith and it is a blessing when I do get to spend some time with them. As my conversation with Captain Tony continued I discovered that he is 56 years old and was quite surprised because he looked a full 20 years younger. He smiled and said that he is kept young by the fact that he smiles a lot and is happy. He attributed his happiness to the joy he has in the Lord. Captain Tony has found the true fountain of youth!!! If you have time today meditate on what Jesus said in John 7:38 “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Who says you can't go home Onesimus?

I always take with me on the cruise ships a few Christian books for the crew members to take free of charge. Today one of those books was a devotional that had been donated to the Seafarers Center by a supporter of the center. One of the guys that I have gotten to know very well on the ship is a brother in Christ named Onesimus from Honduras. He picked up the devotional and opened it to somewhere in the middle and immediately became emotional about what he saw. The devotional that he opened up to was titled “Who says you can’t go home” and was based on the book of Philemon. Onesimus explained to me that he was going home today and that he had been worried about the trip because his country is not very safe right now and he was concerned about the three hour journey from the airport to his home and the chance of being robbed or killed on the way home. He knew God was talking to him through this book because he opened it to this particular page and then he pointed out to me that the main character in the book of Philemon is a slave named Onesimus!!! It amazes me how God works in our lives to show us that he is there and that he cares for us. Here was a worried Seafarer named Onesimus and God put in his hand today a devotion about going home using the book of Philemon which has a character bearing his name. If you get a chance today read the book of Philemon, it is short, only 25 verses. My favorite part is where Paul tells Philemon if anything is owed by Onesimus to put that on Paul’s account. That reminds me of what Jesus did for me when he took the sin debt which I owed and put it on his account.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Don't Worry!

Today I was conducting a Bible study on board one of the cruise ships we visit and before we started one of the guys attending who is from the Dominican Republic told me he was going home in 2 weeks. He needed to go to Walmart to buy a new suit case and was concerned about the cost as well as having enough time to get there and back before he had to be back to work. Well we continued with the Bible study which was taken from Our Daily Bread which is published by RBC Ministries in Grand Rapids, MI. Todays subject was "Don't Worry". We talked about how God had guided and protected the Israelites as they escaped slavery in Egypt. We talked about how God tells us not to worry and how God tells us in Romans 8:31 "If God is for us, who can be against us." After the Bible study my friend left to go to Walmart but returned about 15 minutes later pulling a suit case!!! He had a big smile on his face and told me that as he was leaving the ship someone asked him where he was going so he told them he was going to Walmart to buy a suit case. The other man said he had a suit case he wanted to get rid of and gave it to my friend. It was the perfect size and everything. My friend looked at me after telling me his story and said "Don't worry, God will take care of you!!!" What a cool string of events to see how our God cares for us. After I returned to the office I opened an email from another friend of mine that is having a Bible study this Friday night and asked everyone to read Matthew 6:25-34 so I went to my Bible and read the passage. Guess what it is about... Do Not Worry! I think God is trying to tell me something today.