At Seaman's Center, the world comes to Santa
By John Hall
Texas Baptist Communications
FREEPORT—The Seaman’s Center might be able to teach Santa a thing or two.
Children believe St. Nick travels the globe in one night, delivering presents to good boys and girls. But the Gulf Coast Baptist Association-sponsored ministry never even has to leave the city limits to reach much of the planet.
The center provides gifts for nearly 1,500 sailors from more than 30 countries who come through the port between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Each seaman receives a canvas bag of presents that includes two Christian tracts and $20 in personal items such as socks, gum and handkerchiefs. Those presents serve as launching points for conversations about sailors’ families, jobs and spiritual lives.
Sailors “come out of the woodwork” when Christopher Dale, a missionary serving at the Seaman’s Center, steps on board a ship with the gift bags, he said.
He normally makes six or seven contacts per ship during the year, but he meets to up 25 sailors per boat during the holiday season.
“Kindness is a very good way of talking with them and sharing Christ,” Dale said.
The gifts are meant to be a sign of compassion, Dale said. Not all sailors make a faith profession the day a gift is received, but they have tangible reminders Christians are concerned about people. The presents make lasting impressions on the men.
“We hope it helps them out—shows them someone out there cares about them,” he said.