The men of First Presbyterian Church in Freeport meet on the second Saturday of each month for breakfast at 8 a.m. Join us! Visitors are always welcome and there is always plenty to eat. The next Men's Breakfast will be Saturday, June 9. The featured guest will be Sylvia Crane, Director of Brazoria County Youth Home.
Men's Breakfast Report, May 2012
The Men’s Breakfast Group met Saturday, May 12th with Bobby Fuller, director of Texas Port Ministries. Bobby grew up in this area, worked in the chemical industry for twenty years and had extensive involvement with the port during this time. He then felt a call to the ministry and became director of church education for several Baptist churches, the last at Old Ocean. When the previous director of the Seaman’s center retired, he took the job as director of the Seaman’s center. The Port Ministry is under the umbrella of the Brazoria County Baptist Churches. Its primary mission is to bring people to Jesus; service to people associated with the port is the means to this end.
Bobby has expanded the mission of the seaman’s center to include all people involved with the Port of Freeport. This is the reason for the change in name to Texas Port Ministries. Buddy takes Acts 1:8 as his charge: You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea and all of Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Jerusalem is the local port community such as dock workers. Judea and Samaria are the truck drivers who travel throughout United States, Canada and Mexico. The ends of the earth are the seafarers, who literally go to the ends of the earth.
Service to seafarers is the original and still a primary mission of the ministry. It has become more difficult since 9-11 because of added restrictions on sailors leaving the ships and area and because of added restrictions on people visiting the ships. Volunteers now need a TWIC card to enter the port to visit a ship. These cost about $130 so few people not employed at the port have them. The ministry will pay for a card for dedicated volunteers so they can visit ships, but this is a major expense. When volunteers visit ships they provide the sailors with personal items, religious items and services. If a sailor can visit the center he or she can use the facilities for recreation or for communicating with their families. Volunteers are also able to drive them to stores for shopping.
A new mission of the center is to truck drivers. About 200 trucks enter the port per day to carry cargo from the ships throughout the continent. There is no truck stop in Brazoria County so these truckers have no nearby facilities to cater to their needs. There is a staging area outside the port but this only provides parking. Volunteers give the truckers waiting in this area a gift bag containing some personal items and religious information. Some truckers are able to come to the center to use the facilities. The center has two showers for men and one for women. Many of these truckers are constantly on the road and do not see their families for weeks on end. Some families actually live in the truck. Recently a truck had a man, his wife, a two year old and a three day old baby. They didn’t have proper supplies for the baby so the center provided them.
Future port expansion will increase the truck traffic through the port to 800 trucks per day. The widening of the Panama Canal will allow ships to bring cargos for the middle and eastern parts of the United States here instead of to California, reducing the distance that they have to be carried by truck. To accommodate this, the port will widen the channel between the jetties and deepen it to 55 feet. Berth 7 will need to be repaired and an additional 1600 feet of berths constructed. Widening of Highway 36 to four lanes from the port to IH 10 is also being planned. These improvements will make the port competitive with any on the Gulf. Houston will not be able to get this business because the cost of widening and deepening the ship channel would be prohibitive. Also, moving all the pipelines under the channel and chemical plants along it would be difficult. The increase in truck traffic will make a truck stop in the area necessary. Arch Aplin is interested in building a truck stop, but not until the business has arrived.
The Port Ministries Jerusalem is the local port workers. A service to them is a free lunch on Mondays. The food is provided by an area church and all workers at the port are invited. This has led to people coming to Christ. An offshoot of this is a Bible study program. Bobby says that people have no knowledge of the Bible at all and have to start at a very elementary level. The ministry will direct these people to local churches since Bobby does not want to become a church or compete with any churches.
Although the ministry is primarily a Baptist mission, it gets aid from churches of other denominations in the area. The Catholic daughters have provided Monday lunches. The Port Ministry’s primary need is for more volunteers.
As usual, the men had an interesting discussion and a good breakfast. The next meeting will be June 9.