Providing Christian hope and encouragement
Seafarers from every part of the world find Christian fellowship here in the Highlands.
We provide Bibles, New Testaments and Christian literature in a range of languages to enable men and women at sea to grow in their faith.
Seafarers from across the world regularly visit the Highlands
It’s not unusual for the same vessels to call at Invergordon several times during the cruise ship season. One crew member seemed especially pleased to receive an English bible at the Seafarers’ Centre in Invergordon Parish Church but it wasn’t until a subsequent visit that he explained why.
Pedro* had been an atheist before he and his wife decided that they should read the Bible. They read it and then approached a pastor with a list of questions. The pastor was happy to help them but said that before turning to their questions he would pray with them and read the first 14 verses of John chapter 14.
The pastor finished reading and Pedro’s wife said, “I have no questions. God has given me the answers. I am trusting in the Way, the Truth and the Life.” And shortly after that, Pedro, too, was converted through re-reading that same chapter.
Mary is a volunteer at the Seafarers’ Centre and listened to Pedro’s story on his second visit. “He told us that he had already had a bible in his own language but that to receive an English one was an amazing answer to prayer,” she says.
“Now he feels guided by God to take his English bible and read those verses from John 14 in the foyer of the ship where people gather. He wants everyone to hear that Jesus is the only way, the truth and the life. He is praying that many people who hear those words will come to trust in Jesus.”
With the cruise industry’s post-COVID bounce back, the Seafarers’ Centre in Invergordon has seen 3,982 crew members pass through its doors in 2022, and has provided them with tea, home baking, internet access, warm clothes and – most importantly – pastoral care. To support the ministry of Sailors Society Port Chaplain Drew Anderson and his team of volunteers, Blythswood has provided Scriptures in 18 languages.
A Young Woman’s Story
A young woman entered the Seafarers’ Centre in Invergordon. She had been at sea for 15 days. Tentatively she picked up an English Bible and asked how much it was.
“We told her it was free and that it was hers if she wanted it,” says Drew Anderson, Sailors’ Society chaplain at the Highland port. “She was jumping and down with excitement and said it was all she ever wanted.”
Along with tea and biscuits, internet access is one of the attractions that draws ships’ crews into the Seafarers’ Centre during their precious few hours of shore leave. “Minutes later this girl was on Face Time to her pastor at home in the Philippines,” Drew says. “He asked her had she found a fellowship yet and she said she hadn’t but that she had just been given a Bible.
“We were able to tell her there was a fellowship on board her ship, and showed her a photo of some of the crew who attended. She said she recognised one and would speak to him.”
Her brief shore visit provided both Bible and fellowship for this young Christian so far from home. All types of vessels call at the Cromarty Firth but it is cruise ships especially that swell visitor numbers with crews of up to 1,500 men and women. They include people from Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe and Blythswood Care provides Bibles, New Testaments and Christian literature in appropriate languages.
Danilo was a crew member on one of 93 cruise ships to call at the Highland port of Invergordon in 2017.
An evangelical Christian from the Philippines, he led an on-board fellowship which met twice a week, late at night.
At the Seafarers’ Centre in Invergordon he was delighted to be offered a study Bible that would help him prepare for these meetings during his scarce free time.
He told the Seafarers’ Centre volunteers about his home village, where there was only one copy of the Bible. His wife was a teacher and every morning before class she spent an hour teaching the children a Bible story. Every evening she painstakingly copied out another for the next day.
Even his home church did not have another copy, but yet had sent eight of the congregation to a neighbouring village to plant a church. He explained it like this: “We have nothing but we have the Lord.”
Blythswood Care supports the Seafarers’ Centre ministry by providing Bibles and Christian literature in various languages. The day before Danilo’s ship docked, 30 English New Testaments had been included by mistake with other items obtained for the Invergordon mission.
Showcasing some of the work we do
Shoe Box Appeal
Receiving the gift of a small box packed with presents brings such joy; we thank you for the 88,816 shoeboxes you so generously donated in 2022.
With many of the recipients living in dire poverty, this gift, not only brings a smile, but hugely impacts on their lives.
Over 70,000 people in Highland have been fed through our foodbanks. Everyday people are struggling to put food on the table.
Blythswood Care provides food, care and support to people in crisis.
When schools close at midday, many young children have to fend for themselves. We provide a six-hour programme for children from some of the poorest households in Romania.
The children receive clothing and a weekly shower as well as nourishing meals.
Gospel Literature & Radio
From its origins as the Blythswood Tract Society in 1966, Blythswood has promoted the good news of Jesus Christ through printed media.
We support pastors, Christian radio and bible distribution to people of different cultures and languages.