Introducing…the new-look ILSM!

Introducing…the new-look ILSM!

By Bryan Tay, General Manager

What we have been doing

We are the International Lutheran Seafarers’ Mission (ILSM), a non-profit organisation that cares for the welfare of the seafaring community in word and deed. We are also a mission arm of the Lutheran Church in Singapore and an affiliate of its congregations. We are based in Singapore and reach out to all seafaring crew in the Container Terminals at PSA and the Seafarers’ Welfare Centre at Jurong Fishery Port.

We give thanks to God for the missionaries who helped establish and helm the ILSM for 3 decades: Rev. Werner Strauss, Rev. Christian Schmidt, Rev. Mike Hoffman and Rev. Andreas Latz. Over the last 30 years, our faithful missionaries sent from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria (ELCB), supported occasionally by employed staff, undertook the labour of caring for seafaring crew by visiting them onboard their ships in port. They engaged the crew in conversations, sometimes bringing them gifts such as clothing sponsored by well-wishers, reading materials and other token items. At other times they provided counselling and help in escalating crew welfare issues. In the course of such interactions, they would show God’s love and seize opportune moments to share the Gospel with the crew or help them in their spiritual growth as Christians. Such moments could well be possible in olden days when ships remained longer in port, the crew were largely out of touch with family and there were less distractions offered by worldly pleasures.

What we are doing now

Fast forward to the modern day and we can see that the profile and needs of the seafaring community has evolved in tandem with the socio-economic changes in each country and the rapid proliferation and adoption of technology usage in everyday life, worldwide. Someone once said, “If we keep doing the same things over and over again, and expect different results, we must be mad.” What wisdom! Indeed, if we are to reach the seafaring generation of our times, we must evolve our strategy and tactics in reaching out to them.

Recognising that need, the ILSM has set up its very own local team from 01 February 2024, with 3 employed staff. For a start, the team is led by the General Manager (Bryan Tay) and supported by 2 Operations Executives. Although a small step, it signals our intent to think differently and act differently without being encumbered by past traditions and practices.

To begin with, having a local team provides for a better sense of mission ownership, continuity and stability. More importantly, in reaching out to the seafaring crew in the Container Terminals and the Fishery Port, the ILSM’s local team is able keep up with developing trends to do the following:

  • Create an attractive new identity.
  • Evolve its strategy and tactics.
  • Be more focused in its outreach efforts.

The local team has put in place a few key building blocks to lay a solid foundation for the ILSM. These include:

  • Establishing and articulating the Vision and Mission statements in clear terms.
  • Establishing a schedule of roadshows twice a year in each of the LCS congregations to create awareness, raise funds and more importantly to promote ownership of ILSM by all congregations.
  • Creating the new ILSM brand kit to project a consistent brand image comprising:
    • A newly designed name card
    • A new corporate T-shirt
    • A new banner for roadshow and
    • A refreshing, easy-to-navigate website to attract visitors, which includes payment features to accept donations.

What the future ILSM looks like

A logo with a ship and anchor on a black background

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The future ILSM looks exciting as the local team has set out a masterplan to achieve the ILSM Vision and live up to its Mission. In a nutshell, we want to create a Missional Network of Coastal Welcome Advocates (CWA). The purpose is to engage the crew with the Gospel experience at every touch point of the Coastal Welcome process, starting right from the vessel and continuing to our shores.

Over the last few decades, we have been mainly going out to meet and engage the crew onboard ships whenever we had the opportunity. However, this meant that fruitful relationships with the seafarers were not many, and it does not fit into our mission of sowing the Gospel seed, speaking the Word and offering a Gospel-welcome experience to the seafaring crew, en masse.

Additionally, given the busyness of vessels in Singapore ports, there is little chance of spending quality time with the crew when we visit the ships in port, especially in the

Container Terminals. As such, the only other opportunity for having such quality time with the crew is when they come ashore.

This is where the CWA network serves its purpose. The CWAs play different roles and work together to offer a suite of Coastal Welcome Services to the crew who wants to come ashore. Typically, the crew’s shore leave ranges from 6 hours to 12 hours, which includes all the travel time in and out of port as well as time taken for immigration clearance procedures. As such, because shore leave time is very

precious to the crew, we must get our processes right to help them make the most of their time. When we do this right, we can be sure that our Welcome Services will spread like wildfire, with God’s help!

A group of people standing in front of a boat

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The CWAs will be volunteers in Singapore who perform the following roles :

    • ​CWA-Promoter : Visit ships within the Port area to promote our free Coastal Welcome Services to the crew. They will bring gift tokens and information that provide the crew with access to such FREE services.
  • CWA-Driver: Use their vehicle (or given vehicle) to fetch the crew from the port area to shore destinations & back.
  • CWA-Guide: Show the crew around and provide tips for sightseeing, shopping & eating!
          • CWA-Befriender: Join the crew for a drink/meal & engage in meaningful conversations, including Gospel-related conversations.

With these Coastal Welcome Services, opportunities are aplenty for CWAs to demonstrate God’s love and engage the crew in qualitative conversations, whether opportunistically or deliberately, to bring God into each situation as the Holy Spirit leads.

Above: Overview of Coastal Welcome Services

We need your commitment & support

We pray that LCS congregations will catch this vision and jointly take ownership of this exciting mission to reach out to the nations that God has brought to our shores, providing financial support through regular donations and serving as CWAs!

“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.@ (Luke 10:2)