Early on Friday morning I received the WhatsApp message. Six seamen had died in an accident in the Durban harbour.

I had no idea of what had happened and checked Google to find out what I could. I was shocked to realise that I knew the vessel well. 

It is called the Tropical and on Tuesday I visited the ship, shortly before the accident on Thursday afternoon. On Thursday, a fire had started in the engine room and could only be extinguished about twelve hours later. Five of the six victims were from Mozambique and one from Portugal. The Tropical was part of a fishing fleet that visited the Durban harbour each year for repairs.

It is difficult to talk to the fishermen, but many of them want Bibles, so I had and important connection with them. On the Tuesday I met one of them for the first time. He was not from Mozambique originally, but from Cameroon. He had asked for an English Bible. If he had asked for a Portuguese Bible, I would have been able to take one only next week. Fortunately, he had asked for an English Bible and walked me to my car to fetch the Bible. 

On Friday morning I heard that he had died in the accident. It was a very dark day for me, because I had walked a long way with most of these men. It was particularly difficult because I had visited them on the Tuesday.

Despite those dark feelings, I felt a deep gratitude that I could be involved. I felt thankful that I had been in a position to meet some of the men that died in the accident and that I had been able to give them Bibles in their own languages. 

In addition, I feel grateful for the CSO and the open hand policy about Bibles. I am so thankful that the CSO is willing to carry the costs of distributing Bibles in the languages that the men speak.

We may never know the extent of the difference this made to those that are no longer here but more importantly, we may also never fully understand the value and comfort for those that remain behind. 

Chris Viljoen

Donations: sms cso to 42030 to donate R30 or click here for other options.

(Photo taken with some of the men on a previous visit).