On February 23rd I preached in the annual missions conference at Indian Baptist Church in Smithville, OK. I have preached in this meeting for the last 4-5 years and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a number of missionaries during this time. This year was no different, but as I began to visit Cecil Fayard from Ocean Springs, MS I soon discovered that his mission was very different. Cecil ministers to sailors from around the world on ships that dock in the ports around Mobile, AL.
What makes his ministry so unique is that the people he’s trying to reach actually come to him. They stay anywhere from a day to a month depending on the the cargo they are loading and if their ship needs any repairs. Cecil told me the ships carry anywhere from thirteen to one hundred and fifty seafarers in the crew. These guys spend up to 6 months at a time away from home working 12 hour shifts seven day a week. So they are always ready to see a new face. If they have a US visa they can leave the ship and Cecil drives them wherever they need to go in his old church van. In the back of this van he hauls Bibles, Christian literature, and tracts in forty one different languages to give the guys aboard the ships. To date he has shared the gospel with people from over 50 different countries while never leaving the United States. His slogan is “The best export America can have is the gospel.”
Cecil does travel around the southern coast to other ports from Pensacola to New Orleans as time permits. About once a year he flies to the Dominican Republic to train pastors there in a ship to shore port ministry. Unlike many missionaries, most of the people he engages want reading material and have time to read it. After five years in this work he has begun to encounter people he met years earlier. Many still have the Bible he gave them. Others will ask questions they’ve thought of since their previous conversation. Many times Cecil is the only Christian they know and they may only see him once or twice a year at most.
After hearing of his work, I knew we needed to support this worthy cause. Missions are expensive, flying a family around the world, visas and passports, training them in language and culture, and securing a home or meeting space can cost a fortune. The port ministry is relatively cheap in comparison. Cecil has all his US Customs credentials to board ships in the port, which is only 10 minutes from his home. Since English is the language of the seas, he only needs transportation and tons of literature on top of his normal living expenses to reach thousands of people around the globe. He said if we are ever around Mobile, AL to give him a call and he would be glad to take us with him any day as he shares the gospel with these sailors. Please pray for him and consider giving to his ministry this month.