By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA (ANS) -- Have you ever wondered how cars, coffee and coconuts get to your home? They arrive here daily on huge container ships that enter into your local port.
Chris MacCloud is a port missionary in Long Beach and Los Angeles, California. He visits the port in Long Beach, California, with his ministry, Disciples at Sea (DAS). (Pictured: Chris and Ulrike MacCloud).
"(Yes), these ships bring in all of the goods that we purchase at our stores, but it isn't the merchandise that attracts me to the port...it's the men that work on these ships that interest me," said MacCloud.
"The men on these ships come from all over the world, many of whom have been on board for over 10 months. These men leave their countries, families, and churches and arrive in our port everyday. This is our Jerusalem," he said.
According to MacCloud, the port of Long Beach is the busiest port in the United States. "Long Beach/Los Angeles is the third busiest port in the world and has a huge need for port missionaries," said MacCloud.
"The beauty of being a port missionary is that men from all different tribes, tongues and nations are coming to us here in our own backyard. The potential for reaching the unreached and spreading the gospel through these men back to their families in their home countries is tremendous. Even countries that will not allow missionaries to enter, have men that come to my port. Christ is able to reach out to them and touch their lives because they are coming here to us. It is truly a world mission at our doorstep," he told ANS.
WHO IS DAS ?
Disciples at Sea has been a mission to the port of LB/LA since 1998. "We work in association with Seamen's Christian Friend Society (SCFS). SCFS is a worldwide port missionary organization founded in England in 1846.
"Currently, Disciples at Sea (DAS) has two committed port missionaries visiting ships throughout the week. I was first exposed to port ministry in Hamburg, Germany. I visited ships for one year with an SCFS port missionary named Martin Otto. After attending Calvary Chapel Bible College in Austria with my wife, we returned to California with the vision of starting a port ministry in the port of Long Beach."
MacCloud is a graduate of Biola University and is currently enrolled in the School of Ministry at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa.
The other port missionary with DAS is Walter Lau Hee, Jr. Walt was first introduced to the port ministry by Chris while attending Calvary Chapel of Fullerton, where he has served for over six years in the Children's Ministry, first as a Sunday School teacher and then as a Children's Ministry coordinator.
WHAT DO THEY DO ?
"We go on board container ships and share the gospel. We share the gospel with those who haven't heard it before (and there are a lot who haven't heard the good news of Jesus Christ). We pray with the Christians we find who lack fellowship because of their isolation and we encourage those who have fallen away from the faith while under everyday temptation and loneliness, or while under persecution from their shipmates or countrymen," said MacCloud.
"We supply Bibles, 'The Jesus Video' and correspondence courses. The correspondence courses go to those who demonstrate a desire to learn the Word of God. We stay in contact with these forgotten men through the correspondence courses," he said.
"It is our desire to make disciples at sea, not just believers in port. We accomplish this in two ways: First, via correspondence courses. Secondly, through a network of port missionaries worldwide. After a ship has left port, we are able to forward the contact information to a port missionary on the route of this specific ship. This enables the missionary in the next port-of-call to visit the seafarer and carry on the work that has been started in our own port of Long Beach," MacCloud said.
"It's a strategic work -- we are reaching thousands of forgotten men for Christ. Not only are we able to reconnect these men to the Savior but also to the human race. These men only see their families two or three months per year. That is a terrible thing to endure. We are able to share the love of Christ with them by taking the men to church and giving them a home cooked meal. We give them a Godly alternative to visiting the topless bars with their shipmates. Instead, we are there for them offering brotherly love and friendship," he said.