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6/2/97 Husband-wife’s lifelines extended to ‘water-folk’

ESSEX, Md. (BP)–The metaphor of throwing lifelines to spiritually shipwrecked people is particularly apt for Hank and Linda Fallek.
The Falleks operate Annapolis (Md.) Small Boat Ministry.
Thousands of people live aboard or work on or near boats, according to Fallek. Still more people are leisure boaters, Fallek said, adding that 90 percent of the world’s population lives within 50 miles from a major body of water.
Fallek presented guidelines for establishing and maintaining “water-folk” ministries during a May 3 conference at Mars Hill Baptist Church, Essex, Md., focusing on identifying and understanding water-folk and finding necessary resources and support for evangelism strategies and ministries.
Water-folk are boat builders, boat owners, fishermen, marina employees, military enlistees, sailors, live-aboards, recreational boaters and others whose business, hobby or lifestyle centers around water.
Fallek stressed, “Maritime people may be working, so be respectful of their time. Pleasure boaters may want solitude. Look for an opportunity. Often we have helped someone in trouble and handed that person a tract or a copy of ‘The Chart,’ a New Testament for water-folk. It does not look like a Bible because it is nautical in design and written to interest people on or around the water.”
Water-folk ministries also can effectively use Christian videos. “I always thought television was of the devil, but with videos we can use it for something good,” Fallek commented.
But to be able to minister well, water-folk workers need church support. “Some people in the church believe that you just go out and have fun, but that is not true,” Fallek said. “The work is even harder because you don’t know who you are going to meet, what their needs are, how many people you will encounter and other factors that are different from when you are in a more controlled, predictable environment.
“Usually it is just you and your crew, if you have one, doing all of the evangelism,” Fallek said.
Churches can help by providing resources, following up with people met or providing transportation to church from a marina or port. “The church does not need to buy a boat. Rent a boat. Ask the congregation who has a boat. Evangelize along the marinas,” Fallek exhorted.
To evangelize effectively, Fallek emphasized learning the language of the people. Talk about the thunderstorm you struggled through. Tell “water” Bible stories about Noah, Jonah, Andrew or Peter. Share stories of the miracles Jesus performed on water. “We can’t walk on water like Jesus, but we can show our faith by not wavering,” he said.
Jokingly, Fallek said, “We invite people on our boat, then when it is time to hear the Word of God, we tell them to hear it or swim to shore!” Once a trusting relationship has been established to the point where someone will go out on the water with a person involved in water- folk ministry, the opportunity to share the gospel will follow, he said.
Other water-folk evangelism opportunities for churches and ministries include sailing weekends, retreats, Sunday services, Bible studies, hospitality, counseling, children’s programs, crisis ministries and special events.

    About the Author

  • Rhonda Owen-Smith