Boating community Beginnings in faith

Inspiring stories from our Chaplains of meetings and the sharing of the Christian faith on our waterways in the Northern region…

From Beverley, at the Peak Forest Canal

Peak Forest

Whilst walking the towpath I saw a man who was having an obvious moment of contemplation whilst looking up towards the autumn sunshine, with his eyes closed. I continued along the towpath chatting to a few boaters I regularly talk to and the man continued on his way. 

A little while later I had the opportunity to say hello to the same man and his reply was that meeting a chaplain was the answer to his prayers. We spent some time talking about spiritual matters and how he was feeling which was very low and anxious. I invited him to share his thoughts which he did; he had been unable to confide in his family as he knew they were worried about him and he did not want to burden them further. We spent a long time talking and at the end of the chat he felt clearer about his future and the options he could take. 

It was a very humbling experience to be guided by The Holy Spirit, to be in the right place at the right time.

From Audrie, on the Chesterfield Canal

Due to my disability my ministry is mostly combined with my volunteering in the canal charity shop. A small family of older parents with a little boy are regular visitors and recently the child showed a lot of interest in a book which explained the parables of Jesus to children. His parents weren’t interested in buying it for him so I paid for the book and mentioned to them that there were a few free books (including this one of course).

The boy went off happily with his book, and the following week came back to ask me if I had any more stories about “that man that did the magic tricks”! I don’t think the parents will explain but hopefully it is the first step on the ladder for the child.

From Don, Leeds & Liverpool

Whilst walking the towpath I met with an injured army veteran. Sadly, he and his family had fallen on hard times and were about to be made homeless. I came alongside him and listened; I felt it right to pray with him and informed him I would follow up.

Later that month, I met him again and it was good news all-round. He had been able to arrange immediate rehousing for family through the Council. He had also obtained trial employment and I was able to arrange for a financial gift from a Veterans Fund to be made available to cover the transition period of his trial employment.

This was certainly an answer to prayer.

From WWC Adrian Dann whilst travelling on Trent and Mersey Canal.

Whilst moored in Burton on Trent we were approached by a male who had bought a new (to them) boat but had not yet traversed a lock with this boat and his female companion and asked for assistance.

Chris and I joined them and assisted them through the next lock whilst giving instruction as to how to operate locks. I was then given the privilege of navigating the next length of canal – my first experience of a full-length boat and certainly of an electric boat – maximum speed 2 miles per hour!

I gave him strong advice not to try to navigate the river sections of the Trent alone but to arrange a tow. A great experience, followed by a long walk back to our boat.

From Jan Wayment, Chaplain in the North West …

We have just moved, so changed our area of being Chaplains to the North West. A preliminary meeting was arranged at the Waterways museum to discuss where and how we would minister, we sat down with Hub leader Martin Buck and Fiona and spent a few minutes talking with staff and people in the shop. Bob and I were feeling both excited and apprehensive about our return to “hands on” Chaplaincy, for 20 months we have only had contact with boaters by phone.

Fiona came back to join us, explaining she had been chatting to a lady visiting the museum, who had come from Essex. -“How strange!” I said “I’m an Essex girl too!” Fiona took me over to meet the lady and we talked about the part of Essex that was home for us. “What’s your name? ” I asked. ” Jan” she replied, “So’s mine!” I exclaimed.  “Where were you born?” she enquired. Yes, we were both born in the same maternity home, though a year apart, and our fathers both worked at Ford’s!

…A coincidence? No, we would say this was a God-incidence, and paved the way for easy conversation about her personal circumstances and the reason why she was visiting the Boat Museum, and the reasons why we were Waterways Chaplains. 

….As a postscript to these articles, we would encourage everyone to realise that allowing ourselves to be led by the Holy Spirit will lead to all sorts of ‘coincidences’ in meeting with the right person in the right place at the right time. To quote the song, “Our God is a great big God” and He knows where every piece of the jigsaw is to guide us to where He wants us.

Ask Him before you go out, “Where shall I go today?”. Ask Him to arrange things so that you meet with those He wants you to. From the experiences of our Chaplains you can be assured that you will have the opportunities to witness, and perhaps start someone on the road to faith. After all, if you don’t expect God to do things that will extend His kingdom and give you opportunities to speak for Him, then why should He?