Foreign crew members from visiting ships find a warm welcome at the Port of Gulfport.
The Center for International Seamen and Truckers provides a "home away from home" for such visitors. It's a Christian outreach ministry that began some 25 years ago.
WLOX News went along as representatives welcomed a ship's crew from the Philippines.
"They see our port sticking out here. But they never see the people that come into the port on the ship," said Rev. Charles Corey, as he ministered to a ship's crew.
He reaches out everyday to foreign crew members on visiting ships. Friday morning's mission took him into the galley of a ship that's based in the Philippines. The informal gathering is a simple means of extending kindness to men who've been away from home for many months.
"Relationship. Friendship. Listen to them. Befriend them. Hear them. Talk to them. And be with them," Corey said.
The Filipino crew sang a song of praise. The informal session during the lunch hour is a part of a typical day for Rev. Corey. Such visits help fulfill the center's mission.
"To provide a home away from home for seafarers and professional drivers and truckers. To provide a setting where the gulf coast community through our local churches can befriend those who come," he explained.
"He alone is the way to that joy, happiness and forgiveness," said Southen Baptist evangelist, Sonny Adkins, who visited the ship's crew along with Rev. Corey.
Mamerto Dierra Jr. is thankful for the Seaman Center's outreach. Months at sea, away from his wife and children, add extra stress. Programs like the ministry are appreciated.
"It's very important. They make us feel welcome. And their visits help relieve our worries, our loneliness," he said.
Before taking the port ministry job a decade ago, Rev. Corey was a foreign missionary. Now, the mission field comes to him.
"The world's at our doorstep right here at the Mississippi State Port Authority."
Rev. Corey and his volunteers will make certain there's always a warm welcome.
The center is stocked with plenty of bibles and Christian videos in several different languages. Those items are distributed to the visiting truckers and seamen.