Andrew’s October Blog 2022

20th October 2022
There are many calls on our prayers right now. One of the speakers at our recent Regional Directors’ Conference – an expert on Ukraine, Russia, and the Orthodox tradition – was asked how hopeful he could be about the future.

He replied using the title of a book, “Naught for your Comfort”. While the question was specifically aimed at the current war, it is perhaps a good commentary on these extraordinary times. War rages and threatens to spread. The nuclear threat reappears. The pandemic continues to take its toll, nearly three years after it first emerged. The impacts of climate change become ever more evident. An economic and energy crisis threatens widespread hardship, even within wealthier nations. Rapidly changing political landscapes often compound uncertainty and insecurity. “Naught for your Comfort”. None of us is immune but seafarers and their families are often at the very front line of feeling the impact.

All this formed the background for that Conference. It was the first to have been held since 2019 and, in my view, was one of the best that we have had. It included two newly appointed Regional Directors, The Revd John Attenborough in the MESA Region (Middle East and South Asia) and Sue Dight in Australia & PNG. It was also the last for The Revd Ije Ajibade (Europe Region), to whom we bid farewell shortly and who takes up her new role as Chief of Staff to the Archbishop of Canterbury next month. Despite the darkening global background, there was much to celebrate. The reports that regions were able to give to both the IHQ team and the Trustees were upbeat.

At our first physical get-together for three years, we were able to rehearse the narrative of the last three years. That story includes the continuity of work in so many ports across the world, of gangway visitation, of many millions of dollars worth of personal shopping for seafarers, of crisis response at many levels (not least in relation to abandoned vessels), of support to seafarers impacted by the Ukraine conflict, of the fantastic work of our Family Support Networks, of the significant increase in our digital welfare programmes, and breakthroughs in funding support.

However, alongside all this was a clear recognition of the enormous challenges ahead – strategic, operational, environmental, and financial. Already, measures have been taken to respond to these turbulent times, including the rapid rollout of our investment in new ship visitors. This includes funding to every region, including a substantial increase in our provision and presence in the USA. Beyond that, our plans include the modernisation of our Centre provision, with a special emphasis on modular and mobile facilities, and an ongoing emphasis on strengthening our wider programme, including Family Support Networks and digital initiatives. No one failed to recognise the challenges we face, but all were excited by the possibilities.

We finished with a weekend of excellent coaching. We were very glad to do this under the leadership of The Revd Canon Dr Paul Vrolijk (Chaplain of Holy Trinity in Brussels) who has been developing his coaching work – underpinned by strong theology and faith – under the title of “Christilience”. His theme was resilience – “finding strength for your journey”. How we all need to find such strength in these troubled times. The Mission will continue to work every day to help seafarers find strength, and resilience, for their journey. As with Paul’s coaching, our support will be intensely practical but always undergirded by our faith in the God in whom lies our ultimate strength and purpose. Christilience indeed.



Sign up to our Newsletter
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.