John and Grace Van Huizen, members of Riverside Christian Reformed Church in Wellandport, Ont., are only in their church’s region seven months of the year—the rest of the time you’ll find them in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., ministering to the crews working on cruise ships at this port.
They work with International Seafarers Ministry. The couple’s mission field consists of the floating communities that come into port at Fort Lauderdale daily during the December to April cruise season. Most staff and crew are young and away from home nine to 15 months at a time.
“Whenever we can gain access to any cruise line while it’s in port, we visit with as many crew as possible on board,” Van Huizen said. “We might share Scripture, give a word of encouragement, or sometimes hold a worship service. Every day is completely different.”
“On one of the visits that we had prearranged asking for permission to board, the ship welcomed us aboard and asked if we knew of any organization that could use donations of no-longer needed linens, clothing, shoes, etc. We gladly accepted them on behalf of New Hope Community Christian Reformed Church, where we attend while in Florida.”
John and Grace came to this ministry after having worked on a cruise line themselves for four years as onboard cruise consultants. That experience birthed the desire to continue their exposure to these communities of people. “We noticed what kind of an effect we had as an older Christian couple to staff and crew—70 different nations all on board,” Van Huizen said. “As we developed relationships with fellow staff and crew we were at times missionary, grandmother, counselor . . . you name it.”
The Van Huizens personally raise their support under Action International Ministries. Their home church, Riverside CRC, also supports them.