This is an article I recently wrote for the newsletter of my church, The Cathedral of All Souls. I will be writing a new blog post soon but I figured this might tide you over until then. I hope you are all enjoying a beautiful autumn in North America. Keep an eye out this upcoming week for an update and some photos.
Hello from Hong Kong! Much to my disbelief I have already finished my first month as a missionary with the Young Adult Service Corps. Time is flying, however I am making a special effort to soak it all up.
My work here with the Mission to Seafarers is going quite well, and even in my first month of service I feel like I’ve already made an impact on the lives of many seafarers.
Most mornings, I find myself out in the anchorage of Hong Kong, climbing aboard massive ships which are waiting to unload cargo at the port. The men on board these ships are from all over the world but most of them hail from the Philippines, Russia, India, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Romania and mainland China. Despite their diverse backgrounds, they have one thing in common: they are all lonely.
Since starting my new position, I have often found myself at a loss for words. How can I connect with these seafarers? What wisdom can a 24-year-old bestow upon a 40-year-old seafarer who hasn’t seen his family in months? It has been challenging to minister to a demographic so different than I, however I have found that the most effective way of doing so is by merely being present.
What does it mean to be present? Sometimes it involves just listening to a seafarer talk about his children. Other times, it is sitting at the bedside of a hospitalized seafarer talking sports or politics.
It is easy to overlook the sacred of being present. It might be easy at times to think that such work is meaningless. However, it is important to realize that if I’m not present for these seafarers, then who will be present for them?
I think about Jesus when I am being present with these seafarers. What if Jesus had thought that just being present was beneath him? What if he had told those struggling with leprosy that he was too busy to cure them? Those dying of hunger and thirst that he just hadn't the time? These thoughts have carried me throughout some emotional days at sea.
I am incredibly proud to be serving in Hong Kong as your missionary for the year, and I cannot thank the All Souls community enough for supporting me. I look forward to sharing my spiritual growth with you in the coming months. Until next time, I leave you with this: Who are the “seafarers” in your own life? And how are you being present for them?
With every best wish,