Ken's 25 years of helping seafarers

PUBLISHED: 21:00 04 June 2005 | UPDATED: 05:54 02 March 2010

EVEN after 25 years of Christian ministry among seafarers, Ken Martin still looks forward each day to stepping onto a ship to see where help is needed.

EVEN after 25 years of Christian ministry among seafarers, Ken Martin still looks forward each day to stepping onto a ship to see where help is needed.

Each vessel visiting Felixstowe port brings new challenges, new seamen with different problems – and often only a few hours in which to make a difference before the ship sails.

And today a special service is being held in honour of Rev Martin, a chaplain at Felixstowe Seafarers' Centre to mark his quarter of a century of seafaring ministry.

Rev Martin, helps seafarers in many ways – offering practical help, such as a place to relax, play or phone home, but also spiritually, with a place to pray, think or pick up a Bible.

Hundreds of Bibles have been taken away by seafarers – some in their own language, such as tagalog, spoken by Filipinos – and Bible study groups have started on many ships sailing the high seas.

Links with churches in Felixstowe have meant videos of the Alpha Course – the introduction to Christianity – have also been given away to ships' crews.

Rev Martin said: "It is a joy to see some of these dear men come to a living faith in Christ.

"To think there are Bible study groups on ships is amazing. On one ship eight men hold their study together in the mess room as a witness to their colleagues, while on another they get together at midnight, the only time they can meet.

"We are giving away hundreds of Bibles each year – I put four more on the shelf this morning."

Rev Martin, who is in his fifties and has a wife Doreen and a 19-year-old son James, became a Christian as a teenager at a young people's meeting in his native Northern Ireland and for many years felt a leading towards mission work.

After travelling all over the world on an Operation Mobilisation mission ships and the merchant navy, he was sent by the sailors' society to work at ports in Jamaica in 1980 and then four years later to Antwerp, Belgium.

He landed at Felixstowe 15 years ago and the family have settled in the town.

He said: "We have so much to thank Felixstowe for – the town and its people have been very good to us.

"I still look forward each day to going on board the ships, meeting new seafarers from different countries, never knowing what problems you will find and giving help where we can.

"It's a wonderful privilege to serve in this way."

n. Rev Martin's service is to be held at 3pm today at the United Reformed Church, Orwell Road, Felixstowe.


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