By Mutua Mahiaini
The Navigators International Forum in Kenya in October 2012 presented a huge challenge: to help more than 200 Navigators from every corner of the globe experience God together.
God made that happen!
When I looked at the diversity of people at the forum, I was amazed that we could worship God in unity. The participants represented a kaleidoscope of cultures. People who serve in a variety of contexts came from about 50 countries. There was a wide range of ages. Many enjoy communal worship in different ways. Our ministry philosophies have been shaped by different personalities, genders, backgrounds, and experiences. Given this variety of factors, it would have been natural for the participants to gravitate toward comfortable cliques. Unhealthy comparisons could have hindered our ability to hear God. Instead, thanks to God, we experienced unity.
Our unity was a great answer to prayer. As we planned the International Forum, we asked God to give everyone a shared experience of His presence. We wanted His voice to give us greater bonding within our Worldwide Partnership. We were convinced that our ability to focus on God Himself was perhaps our most important challenge. We longed to see everyone feel “at home” with each other, to embrace with joy, courage, and unity the privilege of being commissioned by God together.
Psalm 27 captures our desire well, especially verses 4, 8, and 14. "Your face, Lord, I will seek." We are thankful that we were able to have this focus on God. Every participant had a longing for God that surpassed personal preferences. We were able to enter into the first session of each day with our eyes focused on God and our hearts seeking to know Him better . . . together.
Lee Brase, a senior Navigator leader, set the stage on the first day by orienting our minds and hearts toward Christ. Lee has a strong passion for making sure that Navigators live a completely God-focused life. He reminded us that we needed to see the entire conference experience as our opportunity to seek God’s face together. During the half day of prayer, for example, he sent us out to the beautiful conference grounds with instructions to speak to no one on the way. We each spent time in quiet reflection, seeing God in His creation around us. It was, and is, all about God Himself.
Martin Cooper, who leads our International Church Ministries, led us in singing to God during the Forum. It was a wonderful experience to hear Navigators from around the world join in hearty and moving worship through music. Perspectives on singing and music are profoundly anchored in each person’s cultural experience. As a result, there were people who probably found the singing style unfamiliar or even uncomfortable. But everyone was willing to join in as best as they could. The maturity, love, and team spirit that such brothers and sisters showed made it all the more meaningful.
During the final session, we shared the Lord’s Supper together. This was a fitting expression of what our Worldwide Partnership is all about. We come from different worship traditions, but the focus on our Savior, whose sacrifice and victory we celebrate, was the overriding factor in our gathering.
We went away from the forum with a powerful reminder from God: The promises of God describe the reality on which we base our confidence for this ministry. In that truth and on His promises, we stand together.
Mutua Mahiaini is an International Vice President of The Navigators and a member of the International Executive Team. Mutua and Stephanie led our work in Kenya, then Côte d’Ivoire, and then the Africa Region for the last 13 years. Mutua and Stephanie now live in Colorado Springs. They have four adult children.