The International Lutheran Seafarers’ Mission in Singapore has been in existence for many years, founded in December 1999 and is an affiliate of the Lutheran Church in Singapore and the Lutheran congregations in Singapore.
Ministry for Seafarer
Seafarers have little voice on land for their needs and their rights. The International Lutheran Seafarers’ Mission cares for them and not only offers a listening ear and concrete pastoral care in times of need, but also stands alongside the seafarers in practical actions. Clothing, hygiene articles, food, telecommunications, everything that is needed for everyday life on board is provided by the Seafarers’ Mission or it is attempted to provide it. In addition, the staff go on board every day to offer a moment to pause amidst the exchanges in the hectic everyday life in the crews’ mess. This has become all the more important in Covid’s pandemic times, when seafarers are sometimes not allowed to leave the ship for up to 12 months for health safety reasons and can only maintain contact with their families via messenger messages.
ILSM – an outreaching church
In this respect, the ILSM is an outreaching church in the midst of the working world at the seafarers’ workplace, when cranes are moving and containers are being unloaded and loaded and the ship’s cook is preparing meals for the crew. In the conversations on board, regardless of origin and religious affiliation, moments of unconditional trust and mutual appreciation arise in the minutes of lingering over a cup of tea or coffee. To support the dignity of the seafarers is a central concern of all seafarer churches. And all seafarers know that when they are in distress, when they are desperate, when they need to get in touch with their families again or when they have to deal with complicated procedures with the authorities, the first attempt at contact is always with the staff of the seafarers’ churches all over the world.
Ministry for fishermen
While seafarers have been protected worldwide by the Maritime Labour Convention since 2006 (on 31 March 2022, Oman became the 100th member state to sign the convention), fishermen remain relatively without rights. Even though an international seafarers’ conference in October 2019 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, focused for the first time on the needs and rights of fishermen, the working conditions of seafarers on containers, car carriers, bulkers cannot be compared in any way with those on fishing boats. The differences are too great. Against this background, the ILSM works closely together with the fishermen in its own meeting center for fishermen in Jurong Fishery Port. In the cooled recreation rooms, the fishermen have the opportunity to contact their families via a free WIFI network, to get new clothes and, mostly through donations, to receive free goody bags for everyday use.
ILSM – integrated in the ecumenical context
Of course, the ILSM is integrated into the ecumenical context of all the local seafarer churches in Singapore and works closely with them together.
Why is the Lutheran Church of Singapore involved in this specific area of seafaring?
Because the Bible places every Christian in this ministry and commissions each believer to pass on God’s love to all people, regardless of origin or religion:
Matthew 25:40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers (and sisters), you did it to me.’
Pray for the hard-working seafarers and fishermen at open sea who spend months at sea, isolated and far from home missed by their families, beloved ones and friends. Pray that our Lord will open their hearts and minds to receive Christ’s gospel. Amen.
FOR MORE INFORMATION – MAILING ADDRESSES:
International Lutheran Seafarers’ Mission, 2 Tah Ching Road #04-02 Singapore 618744
DIRECT LINE.: 6589-8328
EMAIL‘s of the Acting Port Chaplains:
Rev. Andreas Latz, Tel. +65-81325988 – [email protected]