By some estimates, there are one and a half million seafarers around the world. Since sailors constantly travel from one port to another, how can Jehovah’s Witnesses reach as many of them as possible with the Bible’s message? When a ship comes into port, trained Witnesses offer to come aboard and give free Bible-based courses and literature to officers and crew members in their preferred language.
What has been the response to this initiative? Stefano, a Witness volunteer at the port of Vancouver, Canada, explains: “Some people think that all sailors are rough and hardened men. While a few may fit this description, most seafarers we meet are humble and eager to learn.” Stefano adds: “Most believe in God and want to have his blessing, so we are often warmly welcomed.” Between September 2015 and August 2016 in Vancouver alone, Jehovah’s Witnesses were invited aboard ships over 1,600 times! The seafarers obtained thousands of pieces of literature in many languages, and over 1,100 of them began to study the Bible.
How do Bible discussions with seafarers continue?
Because the Witnesses can be found at ports around the world, sailors who want to continue discussing the Bible can request a visit at their next port of call. For example, in May 2016, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Vancouver met Warlito, the chief cook on a cargo ship. They showed him the video Why Study the Bible? and started a Bible study using the brochure Good News From God! Warlito enjoyed the visit and wanted to continue his Bible study, but his ship’s next stop was the distant Brazilian port of Paranaguá.
When his ship finally docked at Paranaguá a little over a month later, Warlito could hardly believe it when two Brazilian Witnesses came to the ship’s gangway asking for him by name! They said that their fellow Witnesses in Vancouver had sent them his request for a visit. Warlito was delighted to meet the Brazilian Witnesses and expressed heartfelt thanks that the necessary arrangements had been made. He gladly agreed to continue studying the Bible with the Witnesses at his next port of call.