We are close to home today in the United Kingdom with Counties UK, which supports evangelists in England and Wales and equips churches to share the Good News. Read on to find out how God has transformed one sailor’s life in a remarkable way.
Seafarer Dustin Mathews has a lot to be thankful for – he met and married his wife Melissa last May, and earlier this year the couple celebrated the birth of their baby son Elijah.
But only a few years ago, Dustin’s life had reached a very low point because of the dire working conditions on the ship he was on.
Thanks to the prayers of his family, his life reached a turning point when he met Counties evangelist and sea chaplain Steve Loader at Bristol docks, who, with the help of others, helped Dustin get his life back on track.
Dustin said: ‘The Lord has moved mountains in my life, I wouldn’t be here today without Him. I thought I had lost everything and could see no way forward, but my life has now changed so much!’
Originally from Goa, India, Dustin moved to the UK when he was 25 to be closer to his mum and sister who lived in London. He looked for a job for almost five months and was delighted when he was offered the role of Deck Officer on board a Turkish cargo ship carrying empty containers travelling between Cardiff, Bristol and Belfast.
Dustin explained: ‘I grew up in India in a Catholic environment, but I wasn’t the ideal Christian, living in sin and feeling quite far away from God. When I moved to the UK, my mum took me to an evangelical church in London and I fell on my knees, prayed and accepted Jesus as my Saviour.
‘Not long after this I was offered the ship job, but this turned out to be my worst nightmare. From day one they never paid my salary – my employers said if I complained about my circumstances, they would sack me, and I would not get my sea time experience. They never sent me out on shore leave, I never got any money to call my family and I kept questioning why this was happening to me. But my faith in Lord Jesus was strong and I kept going on.
‘I was living without any proper food or clean water and I felt like I was in a prison but with no proper utilities. I didn’t have any money to call my family, I was malnourished, and I desperately wanted to leave the ship – but the captain said I would get a bad record if I left and wouldn’t get a job in the UK. I kept praying for a miracle to happen and for things to change.’
Jesus has given me my life back and so much more
Unbeknown to Dustin, his mum and her church family were all praying for him and for a breakthrough. Dustin continued: ‘Just as I was at the end of my patience, I met Counties evangelist and sea chaplain Steve Loader while the ship was docked in Avonmouth.
‘I talked to Steve about my living conditions and how I was missing my home and family. He prayed with me and, as he left, he said he would do his best to sort my situation out. Not long after this, the captain became aware of what was happening and locked me in my cabin, with a man outside the cabin keeping guard on me.
‘I prayed to the Lord and asked for a sign of hope, as I was again at breaking point. Just at that moment I heard Steve was on his way with an inspector. He got me off the ship and managed to get all my wages owed to me. I am so grateful for Steve and how God used him in my situation; he will be my friend for the rest of my life.’
After leaving the cargo ship, Dustin moved to Portsmouth to train to be a First Officer and it was there he met his Christian wife, Melissa. They got married last year and welcomed baby Elijah in January.
‘I could never have imagined when I was living on that ship in such awful conditions, that I would be living in a nice house, with a lovely wife and a beautiful baby son. I can’t be any happier. Jesus has given me my life back and so much more,’ said Dustin.
Counties evangelist Steve Loader said: ‘When I first met Dustin he had not been paid for many months and his working conditions were awful. With the help of others, I got him off his ship and he was paid all wages that were owed to him. I remained in touch and was delighted to attend his wedding. It’s wonderful to see that Dustin is born again and his life has drastically changed for the better! I told Dustin that God has been good to him, to which he replied: “Yes he certainly has!”’
Pray for the United Kingdom:
- for evangelists, as they witness in schools, on streets, go door-to-door, lead holiday clubs and camps and help to plant churches
- for churches to reach out to immigrants, asylum-seekers and refugees who are settling in the UK, often having fled from countries that are hard to reach through traditional models of mission
- for new believers from these communities, who may then return to their country of origin and bring the gospel to their own people.