About seafarers and Port of Hope...
A seafarer's life is always lonely, often boring, sometimes dangerous and occasionally terrifying.
Port of Hope Ministries exists to glorify God by bringing the care and compassion of Christ to international seafarers.
We help lift their burden of loneliness and boredom, listen to their stories from home and to their hurts and worries.
We build the spirit of the seafarer with encouragement and words of hope.
We encourage morality and integrity in their personal lives.
We strengthen their spiritual character and when appropriate, share our faith in Jesus Christ with gentleness and respect.
Phil and Debbie DuFrene started Port of Hope Ministries in 2002. Because they lived on the Canadian border and have US and Canadian nationality, a year later they started Port of Hope Ministries Canada.
Phil has been a missionary and missionary pilot in Indonesia and northern Canada. He was a flight instructor at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia. While teaching at Trinity, Phil was exposed to seafarers ministry and his interest grew from there.
He and Debbie worked with Campus Crusade for Christ's (now CRU) JESUS Film Project from 1991 to 2006.
Phil is originally from Minnesota. He is an ordained Baptist minister and commissioned Workplace Chaplain with the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptists.
Sadly, Debbie passed from cancer in 2018. They have four adult kids (Jesse, Pete, Steve and Raman Elizabeth) and six grandchildren. Phil lives three blocks south of the Canadian border in Sumas, Washington.
Phil was a Civil War Re-enactor battlefield chaplain (Union) for 16 years but now portrays a Southern war journalist. He says his experience as a re-enactor chaplain was his best school of chaplaincy. These experiences, plus experience in the military, police, private security and prison ministry, became the foundation of Port of Hope's ministry style.
His hobbies are woodworking and writing. He specializes in turning pens and making various unique boxes. He's always has a story or poem he's working on.
And yes, he always uses a fountain pen.
"...building strong Christian seafarers."
I look for them on every ship, but there aren't many of them out there...true, committed Christian seafarers. One Filipino officer said to me, "I've sailed for 25 years. Most of the time I've been the only true believer on board."
This is the greatest reason we exist: to find these dear brothers and sisters and bless and help them in their Christian walk.
Just like you and me, Christian seafarers live and work among people who have no interest in Christ. But they have no church or fellowship to retreat to. Subtle harassment is common. Temptation is everywhere.
Our goal is to find them, listen to their stories, encourage them and let them know they're not alone. Then stay in contact on social media.
As one seaman told me, "I just want to keep my faith strong and return home without being ashamed of anything I've done."
In the early 2000s, I was visiting with a Burmese officer. He was the only Christian on his vessel. I asked him, "If I have 10 minutes to spend with someone before I have to leave...should I spend it with a non-Christian or a Christian?"
In an instant he replied, "The Christian. The non-Christian will just want to talk...talk about anything. But you don't know where the Christian is in his life. He may be ready to give up. The devil would love that. Plus, he can tell them about Christ better than you. He knows the language, the culture and the men. Spend those 10 minutes with the Christian."
That short conversation changed Port of Hope.
Jesus served people with deep love and compassion. He never had prerequisites for his care and he expected anything in return. He just fed and healed them, spoke about the Father and true faith and asked them to follow him. Some followed. Some didn't.
Our seafarers are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Muslims, humanists and atheists, and Christians of all kinds. We're not evangelists, preachers or missionaries to them. We are chaplains. Chaplains care for people without regard to their rank or status, political beliefs, lifestyle preferences or religion. A troubled or grieving heart needs a gently touch.
We truly believe our task is to simply serve our Lord, and by our deeds, attitude and words, bring others one step closer to
Jesus...whatever that step might be.
We believe his Message of forgiveness, peace and hope is so precious we are obliged to share our hope in Christ with gentleness and respect when the time is proper and the setting appropriate. (1 Peter 3:15)
Seafarers know we're Christians, and sometimes the greatest message for that moment is simply that they see Christ in us...see his deep love and compassion...with no prerequisites and asking nothing in return.