Submitted by Craig Claudin, Website Manager
As Tenth’s website manager, I sometimes hear from people who watch our live webcasts or download sermons. I recently received an email from Martin Harder, co-captain of a Dutch cargo ship, who expressed appreciation for Pastor Liam’s sermons. Captain Harder downloads Tenth sermons for his crew to watch as part of their weekly, on-board Sunday services. Named after the ship owner’s children, the Liamare can carry a 4,112 ton payload worldwide. Martin calls her a “Big Coaster” whose present trade involves shipping large stones from Norway to parts of Europe.
Captain Harder discovered Tenth online through a friend when Dr. Ryken was senior minister. “It really caught me,” he said, and now Tenth is the only English-language sermons he downloads to share with his crew. “For me personally, it looks like Dr. Liam Goligher is somebody I’ve known for years,” he said. “We have seen him from the beginning. His sermons are really necessary to keep you awake [spiritually] and also to encourage you.”
Martin and co-captain/ship owner Adriaan are members of the Dutch Reformed Church. Their crew of about eight or nine consists of Dutch, Latvian, and Filipino men, ranging in age from their twenties to forties. The men’s religious backgrounds include Catholic, Seventh-Day Adventist, and various branches of Dutch Reformed and Netherlands Reformed churches. Martin joked, “We have a saying: ‘one Dutchman a belief, two Dutchmen a church, three Dutchmen a schism!’”
Sharing captain duties for alternating months at a time, Martin and Adriaan seek to make a difference in the rough seafaring community. Martin meets privately and in small groups with the men for prayer, sometimes in the wheelhouse while piloting the ship.
“We are a company that is trying to keep Christian values high and celebrate Sunday as a rest day given by the Lord. If possible, we are not sailing, loading, or discharging on Sunday. The celebrating together is showing that for God we are all equal and we all depend on him. It brings you together.”
The Dutch portion of the crew gathers on Sunday morning to worship and listen to a Dutch sermon. In the evening, any crewmember who desires can attend an international worship service. The men sing hymns, read the sermon’s scripture passage, and watch Liam’s downloaded sermon. Martin closes by asking God for his blessing.
I asked Martin how Liam’s sermons help the crew. He replied, “[The sermons] keep taking off the rough edges of life at sea and keep us being aware that the most important thing in life for us is the work of our Lord Jesus Christ, that we live because of his sacrifice for us, by God’s mercy and grace.”
Martin added, “[The sermons] are biblical truth explained and that is very, very important to me if I show it to others. I have to stand 100 percent fully behind the message and that is what I find in your church.”
I asked Martin what God is teaching him as he sails the seas. “We are all very small people in a dangerous and sometimes hostile world and we really, really need him to look after us,” he said. “At sea in heavy storm you really feel how small and fragile a man really is. [Jesus] is the rock we can build on, and he is always with you wherever you go and your family at home.”
Martin asked us to pray “for helping to keep the very small part of Christian shipping alive at sea in a world where that is more and more difficult and, of course, for a safe journey; that everybody returns safely to his family and things are going well at home during our absence.”
Pray for: Martin and the owner of the Liamare, Adriaan, as well as their families and crew: Benjo, Elvin, Victor, Jonathan, Dainars, Edgar, Libni, Arie, Kris, John, and Aarnout.
Martin, English not being his first language, concluded with: “I hope it is all a bit understandable :-). I thank you all for sharing your sermons on the internet and wish you all God’s blessing.”
Captain Martin Harder with his son, Daniel, standing before the Liamare.
On behalf of our congregation, may I express deep gratitude to God for his rich giftings to our IT and AV volunteers, engineers and staff who keep our webcasts and archives going. You never know who's watching!
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Craig Claudin. © 2020 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org