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Sailing through the Scriptures

When you pack for that cruise, don’t forget your Bible

Darwin-based Anglican minister Phil Zamagias recalls how he started holding Bible studies on his first cruise in 2012, which sailed from Alaska to the Orient.

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Being a man of great faith, I had 15 copies of Bible studies on 1 Corinthians printed and took them on board with me.

I asked the Princess Cruises staff if I could have a venue and publicity, which they were happy to provide. I got advertising on the ship’s television channel, in the ship’s daily newsletter and put up signage at the venue.

It was a fabulous mix of nations all gathered around God’s word.

To my shock and horror, 85 people turned up for day one. We eventually settled down with about 55 regulars. It was a fabulous mix of nations all gathered around God’s word.

After that first series on 1 Corinthians the first time, I started using a series on Mark’s Gospel, which has a more evangelistic tone, focusing on Mark’s implied question: “Who is this man?”

Phil Zamagias leads a Bible study on board a Princess Cruise ship

Phil Zamagias leads a Bible study on board a Princess Cruise ship

I have always had a good response from Princess Cruises, especially now that I have the precedents that I can show in print.

He was going to distribute his device to “underground” churches in China.

One chap I met on the way to China was a Chinese pastor’s kid who had gone to America to study engineering. He showed me a device he had made that was pre-programmed with backing tracks of hymns churches could use. Just select the number on the keypad and the hymn would play. He was going to distribute his device to “underground” churches in China.

We met lots of retired pastors, missionaries, faithful elders of churches and inquirers. It was great fun and we kept in contact with quite a few of them. Sundays, which are sea days, can be a great opportunity to run a service. The cruise staff will provide a pianist who generally will know the more popular hymns, so it is worth going prepared with a sermon.

It’s a fabulous witness to others on the ship that Christians get together.

There are also Christian staff aboard most ships who may be encouraged to run Bible studies or Sunday services. I encouraged the people who came to my studies to at least offer to host a Bible reading group on their next cruise, even if they don’t feel confident to expound Scripture themselves. Just get together and read through book together. It’s a fabulous witness to others on the ship that Christians get together.

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