God guides us
by Carl Dorozio, Chaplain to seafarers
“For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me”
David wrote those words in Psalm 31:3 and I find them applicable each time I am in the Port of Vancouver. As part of the outreach of Lighthouse Harbour Ministries, we go on the ships when docked and one never knows who is at the top of the gangway. Each time I board a ship, I pray that God leads me to the right people; “divine encounters” is what we call these meetings. Things usually quieten down in the afternoons, as the seafarers who are not on duty either go ashore or to their cabins to rest.
For some reason, one early afternoon, I felt I should go to one particular terminal that I don’t often visit. As I drove up, I saw two seafarers in the parking lot, and stopped to ask them if they needed any help. They let me know they were on their way to another seaman’s centre. I told them to hop in and would give them a ride. As we spoke on the way, they asked if I was a pastor and when I said yes, they said that I needed to speak with the 2nd Engineer on their ship. They told me he was a Christian and wanted to conduct Bible studies. Being mindful that the term “Christian” can mean different things in other countries, I drove back to the terminal and loaded up my pack with New Testaments and study guides.
Aboard the ship, it was silent. In fact no one was around except the person who greeted me. I asked if he could call the 2nd Engineer and went to the ship’s office to wait.
After about 5 or 10 minutes, the 2nd Engineer came into the room.
He was a bit dirty since he had just got out from underneath the engine and was wondering who had asked for him. As we spoke, he realized I was a Christian and I realized he was a real follower of Jesus. Four years earlier, Campus Crusade for Christ had planted a seed of faith and for the next four years he had read the Bible. God worked in his life and he put his trust in Jesus Christ as his Saviour. He is going strong in the Lord and eager to witness on the ship and at home in Romania. I was excited to speak with a Christian from Eastern Europe, since most of the men from that part of the world are not open to speaking about God.
He invited me down to the engine room to speak with the crew who were now on their break. About seven were there… from all over the world. I had a chance to share the gospel and encourage them to read God’s word. I also handed out toques and New Testaments. After they went back to work, he and I prayed.
He told me he had no one to pray with in person since he had been at sea and the only time of prayer he has with others is over the internet with his wife. He also told me. that the day before, he had been discouraged and had prayed with his wife about it. He smiled as he said God answered his prayer… however, he was not expecting the answer to be an actual person coming on the ship to speak with him.
We had a chance to go for dinner the next evening before his ship left, and I gave him more Christian books for his own study. What a privilege it was to encourage this man.
I stop and think about all the ways God had arranged things. He moved me to go to that terminal, at that particular time. If I had been one minute earlier or later, the sailors I met would not have been in the parking lot to be noticed. If they had not needed a ride, I would not have been able to speak with them and if I would had not known who to ask for, I would have come to a quiet ship and left. If I had been on the ship 15 minutes earlier, the 2nd Engineer could not have met me, because he was under the engine.
My mind spins thinking how perfect God’s timing is… praise God that he really does guide us!