NB Sola Gratia - Cruising and Ministry
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A lot of what we do is simply cruising and enjoying exploring the wonderful British towns, villages and countryside along our Inland Waterways. However, in our travels, we do meet several people and, when we do, chat to them. Fellow boaters when we moor up or that we meet at locks. Often, we get the opportunity to talk to “gongoozlers” – people who are enjoying watching the activities on the Canals and Rivers. We tell them about our lifestyle (no, it isn’t cold in winter, not with the log fire!), how we get our post and how we manage our shopping, etc.
This gives us a great chance to share the Gospel, too. Not that we preach or ram it down people’s throats. We don’t “bible-bash”, because that’s not our style. But we do not hide our faith. After all, we have “Boaters’ Christian Fellowship” stickers on the boat, as well as a large “Canal Ministries” logo in the centre on both sides! That often provokes the question “what do we do?” and this then gives us a chance to share our story and our faith.
It is not usually appropriate to share anything of these encounters publicly on Social Media. However, there are times when we can share at least some of this through our prayer letter. Through Canal Ministries, we will try and help anyone we come across along the waterways if we can. We will not give money (unless we have come to know the person and that any money will be used wisely), but we will give practical help. Quite often, the greatest thing we can do is simply listen and make the person feel valued. Some of the stories we have heard are heart breaking. We have learnt that it can happen to anyone.
So, food is also something that we will give – either a food parcel, or we will buy them a sandwich or a breakfast. In the winter, we can supply something warm, for example a duvet or a sleeping bag. It is sad to learn that many will not go into hostels for fear of having what little they have stolen or that they might be exposed to drugs.
We will take the opportunity of giving them some literature to read. We have a supply of Gospels in a modern translation – something that is easy to read, but still gets the message across.
Recently, we have been privileged to work with boaters who have been down on their luck. It is rewarding to be able to see someone rise from the depths of despair to finding a whole new meaning to life. It is all too easy to slip into a downward spiral and not be able to see a way back up. We pray for more opportunities to be led to help more people on our waterways.
The Good Ship on a busy London mooring.