- MTS Lagos is pragmatic evangelism – Cleric
Over 200 seafarers have benefitted from the multi-layered care system by the Mission-to-Seafarers (MTS) Lagos in the last one year, amid ongoing rehabilitation of the MTS Lagos centre in Apapa.
The Chairman of MTS Lagos, Chief Adebayo Sarumi revealed this during the global Anglican annual Sea Sunday celebration which was also marked at the Cathedral Church of Christ, Marina, Lagos, yesterday.
Sarumi expressed delight at the renewed impact the non-governmental organization (NGO) has been making in the lives of foreign seafarers who called at the Lagos ports in recent times.
The 79-year old former Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Sarumi stressed that in addition to physical danger due to travel by the sea, seafarers are also in danger of depression and suicide, adding that lack of shore leave after long voyages is like imprisonment or house arrest.
“Psychological strain, piracy and armed attack, sea-related illnesses, are some other challenges confronting seafarers; but MTS is responding to the needs of global seafarers in over 50 countries and more than 250 ports. There is a center in Lagos where it provides ship visits and coordinates other aspects that support seafarers welfare.”
“We provide home from home for the seafarers or a safe transit point when they leave the vessel. We attend to the welfare needs of these seafarers so they can maintain our way of life and needs. With over 3000 ships visiting Lagos the center in Lagos is strategic to seafarers support,” he said.
During the sermon, Bishop (Dr.) Olusola Odedeji described the activities of MTS Lagos as pragmatic evangelism, emphasising that the first responsibility is to preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to the seafarers and to pray for them.
He, however, stressed that caring for seafarers is preaching Jesus Christ through a lifestyle of care and gratitude, adding that MTS is also a demonstration of the life of Christ which is about impact and making people’s lives better.
While commending seafarers for their sacrifice onboard vessels to maintain global trade, he noted that missionaries played a similar role in taking the gospel of Jesus Christ to nations including Nigeria not minding the threats and health hazards.
“Evil is becoming the order of the day but with MTS, we are telling the world that they can be reached through numerous means as support and we are establishing peace and well-being.”
“Several nations of the world have huge hope in the city of Lagos. A lot of seafarers played a crucial role in bringing numerous items to build and develop mighty edifices in Lagos. We shouldn’t let those who laboured go without help spiritually, materially and psychologically,” Olusola admonished.
Meanwhile, terminal operators in the country pledged to prioritize seafarers’ welfare and contribute to the work of MTS Lagos.
The Chairman, Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN), Princess Vicky Haastrup, gave this assurance while speaking with journalists at the event she described as “a very noble cause.”
Her words: “These are people who spend as long as three to six months at sea away from their families. They sometimes fall sick, suffer pirates’ attacks. We know what it is when we are away from our family for days, but imagine what they suffer for months amid the turbulence at sea.”
“It is great that a day like this is set aside to give attention to remember them for what they are doing to keep trade going. Seafarers do a lot of sacrifices and their welfare should be given all the attention required. We should frequently pray for them and create a place where they can go and have fun and unwind from all the stress.”
Haastrup, who is also the Executive Vice Chairman, ENL Consortium, called for the sensitisation of port operators on the need to support the MTS Lagos as the organization needs money to survive and support seafarers.
“I am ceasing this opportunity to call on my colleagues to stand up to this call and support this mission on this noble work. I think it is fair to give such support,” she opined.
The event was also graced by maritime industry bigwigs including; Secretary General, African Ship-owners Association, Funmi Folorunso; President of Nigerian Association of Master Mariners (NAMM), Capt. Tajudeen Alao; President, Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) Nigeria, Mrs. Eunice Ezeoke; former General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, NPA, Capt. Ihenacho Ebubeogu; President, Women in Maritime Africa (WIMA), Nigerian Chapter, Mrs. Rollens Macfoy; Chief Executive, Ships and Ports, Dr. Bolaji Akinola; among others.