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People of the Sea

People of the Sea

520_cr_2The sea is vital to us all with 90% of all world trade being carried by sea. This gives work to more than 1.25 million seafarers. 41 million people make their living from fishing. For many in third world countries their entire existence is dependant on the sea.

By the nature of their work, seafarers spend weeks or months at a time at sea. This separates them from their families and communities who, by association, are People of the Sea. The income gained from seafaring can bring benefits to all. But all must endure the long periods of separation, communication difficulties and uncertainties of the seafaring life.

Coastal communities, including those engaged in coastal fishing and shipping and workers in coastal facilities, are also People of the Sea. Their lives and livelihoods are threatened by maritime disasters: pollution, over-fishing and natural phenomena such as the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004. And yet their lives are also nourished by the sea: the beauty of nature, the harvest of fish and the cultural enrichment that comes from receiving visitors from other shores.

Lack of access to communications causes a sense of isolation. Where crews are drawn from various countries, there are barriers of differing cultures, languages and religions. Seafarers find it difficult to discuss personal concerns or share hopes and ideas with their colleagues. They are especially vulnerable to feelings of loneliness

Then Jesus got into the boat followed by his disciples. Suddenly a storm broke over the lake, so violent that the boat was being swamped by the waves. But he was asleep. So they went to him and woke him saying,

Save us, Lord, we are lost!

And he said to them,

Why are you so frightened, you who have so little faith?

And then he stood up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. They were astounded and said,

Whatever kind of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?

Matthew 8, 23-27

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