Welcoming the Stranger

Things have been difficult for seafarers coming to the US since 9/11. After weeks at sea they arrive on American shores as unwelcome guests. The cargo their ships bring is offloaded quickly, but getting a shore is a great deal trickier for the seafarers themselves. In some cases, such as cruise ships, a crew may have as little as a few hours of shore leave.

At least in Boston, those seafarers find friendly face in the port chaplains, explains the Boston Globe. Sometimes the chaplains do something as simple as taking the seafarers to the mall for a few hours. Or, in the case of the New England Seafarer's Mission
, the chaplains help provide other small graces--coffee and access to phones or the internet.

Ninety-nine percent of them are married and have families," Steven Cushing, director of the NE Seafarer's Mission told the Globe. "That is why they are doing the job. They come from countries where employment is difficult to obtain. . . . They want to know that everyone at home is all right, and home wants to know that they're all right."

As Cushing points out, the idea of offering hospitality to strangers from straight for the Bible. He told the Globe:

"We're looking at a larger picture of hospitality, even as Christian scripture looks at it, which is you take in the stranger who asks for help as he's on his travels or on her travels through this world. When they cross your path, you provide kind of a safety zone where they can receive help, receive comfort, receive rest, and then you send them on their way to continue their journey."


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