April 2017

Peacemakers in Turbulent Times

By Jerry White, International President Emeritus

 Photo courtesy Randy Colas

Photo courtesy Randy Colas

Hatred. Divisiveness. Fear. Hostility. Animosity. Gloating. Joy. Relief. In the wake of changing governments and political turmoil, people in nation after nation are rocked with these emotions.

Today in country after country, wars and divisions split families and neighbors. In many places, the opposition is murdered or exiled. In others, no one dare speak a word publicly about any government actions or officials. Peaceful transitions of power are rare. And too often, justice and righteousness are nowhere to be seen.

In democratic countries, people expect to see more civility. And yet, during the recent U.S. election, accusations and harsh words became the norm. This occurred when there was no obvious oppression, injustice or outright evil. Divisive language emerged when there was only a difference of political philosophy. What are we as believers to do or think?
 
All of us look at political choices through a hierarchy of our priorities: the needs of the poor, the Supreme Court, laws regarding business, refugees, foreign policy, etc. But if we elevate these priorities higher than advancing the Gospel, or higher than our relationships, we can easily fall into unnecessary conflict.

The Bible often warns us about the danger of division among believers. In John 17:23, Jesus prayed that we as followers of Christ may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Our unity, Jesus said, is paramount to His purpose of reaching the lost with the message of His grace.

Through the years, I have worked with officials in the administrations of four presidents. They were good people. They were friends. I did not always agree with them or their policies, but we worked together for the common good. And I believe that the Scriptures can help us do the same.

First, it helps me to remember that God is in ultimate control. I recall Isaiah’s words about Cyrus, a pagan king: This is what the Lord says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of . . . (Isaiah 45:1). In my Bible, I made a note by another verse regarding the U.S. election: No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt a man. But it is God who judges; He brings one down, he exalts another (Psalm 75:6–7).

God is sovereign over the nations. Yet our emotions may still consume us. And these emotions can often cause division, or keep us from expressing the Gospel as we should. How do we walk with Christ and honor God in our times?

Sometimes believers must take a stand against direct or systemic evil. But here is a short list of what we all can do as peacemakers and good citizens:

  • Pray diligently for the leaders, especially for godly counsellors and moral decisions. We read in 1 Timothy 2:1–2 that we are to pray for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. Remember to pray for the leader’s surrounding team.
  • Keep your walk with Jesus fresh and yielded.
  • Be humble: Consider the lenses through which you prioritize your political and moral thinking and ask God to show you if your priorities should change.
  • Remember that we do not necessarily know the full truth of many issues. So let’s pray and listen to others, taking care in not adamantly expressing our own views.
  • Finally, I stay focused on my calling. I am not called to be a political activist, but to be an evangelist and disciple-maker. It is not wrong to be publicly engaged, but our purpose is to communicate the truth of Christ’s redeeming power, a pure Gospel. We must not give people the impression that adhering to one political view or another is necessary to be follower of Jesus. We should engage in the issues of our times, but do so with an effort to keep the peace and to live out the Gospel.

In all things, we can rest. God is always on the throne. His purposes cannot be thwarted. Our role as Navigators continues to be “to know Him and to make Him known.”    

Dr. Jerry White is International President Emeritus of The Navigators. He served almost 19 years as International President (until 2005). He retired as a Major General from the US Air Force. He and his wife, Mary, live in Colorado Springs.

Onward to Sierra Leone

By Alan Ch'ng

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On a recent visit to Ghana, my wife Connie and I were picked up at the airport by Richard and Georgina Baa-Poku and their eight-year-old daughter Rinnah. We were excited to meet them and eager to hear more about their plans for the future. You see, Richard and Georgina are gearing up to pioneer a cross-cultural effort to reach Sierra Leone with the Gospel.

Richard is an established architect, having worked in his profession for 13 years. Georgina worked in the tourism industry and now has her own business. In the midst of family and work, Richard helps give leadership to a couple of Navigator student ministries in Accra, Ghana.

As we got to know them, a question began popping up in my mind: What led Richard and Georgina to decide to leave their country, their people, their household and their professions in order to move to Sierra Leone?

The process began in about 2010. With support from the Africa Regional Leadership Team, Richard made several survey trips into Sierra Leone and found that God was working ahead of them. During that first visit, Richard was moved by both the openness to the Gospel among the people and by the poverty and difficult living conditions in Sierra Leone. He could see that God was working in their hearts, but there was a shortage of help.

Then, on his third visit to Sierra Leone, Richard brought Georgina along. God helped them connect with a young woman who was eager to grow in Christ and learn more about the Bible with the help of Richard and Georgina. A discipleship relationship was established between them.

As Connie and I got to know them, three factors for their decision became clear to us. First, God was working in their hearts because of the poverty in Sierra Leone. The crowds were harassed and helpless. Second, they experienced among those they met a sincere longing for and openness to the Gospel. Third, at about the same time, God was speaking to them through Psalm 2:8, which says, Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.

Compelled by these three factors, Richard and Georgina decided to launch a two-year plan to relocate to Sierra Leone. As with any pioneering effort, there are many unknowns. This is uncharted territory. They are honest about the fact that they don’t have all the details figured out. But they are moving forward in courageous faith. As Georgina says, “We will trust God for jobs and for support.”

One thing is sure: It will take a team of friends and mentors to help them be fruitful. Navigators in Ghana are engaged in the process. The Africa regional leaders are also involved. Connie and I had many opportunities to talk with Richard and Georgina about all that is involved in making such a faith move. We were able to help them understand more about what the Scriptures teach about pioneering missions.

It thrilled my heart to see laborers like Richard and Georgina, working professionals doing well in their jobs, respond to the call of God to step into cross-cultural missions. There is still much preparation between now and when this family can move to Sierra Leone. But it is exciting to see them stepping out in faith and obeying God.

The story of Richard and Georgina represents many Navigators who are pioneering new ministries all over the world. In fact, there are some 65 countries in which we have pioneering ministries. We thank God for each and every one of the precious people who have modeled faith and obedience in this way.

Please pray for Richard, Georgina and Rinnah. And, if you are interested in praying for other missionary efforts in our Worldwide Partnership around the globe, you can find a prayer list for each region at this link.

Alan Ch’ng is an International Vice President. Before joining the International Executive Team, Alan led our Asia-Pacific Region for more than six years. Alan and his wife, Connie, moved to Colorado Springs in April 2013. They have three grown sons.

Coming Alongside

By David Lyons

 Photo courtesy of Harli Marten

Photo courtesy of Harli Marten

Our daughter, on her wedding day, said to my wife, “Mom, will you promise to be there with me when I give birth to my babies?” Renee, of course, said “Yes!” My wife did not know that fulfilling that promise would require her to spend many weeks overseas, but that is what mothers do for their daughters. They show up and come alongside them when needed. 

Someone once observed that Navigators will gladly travel to the other side of the world to help one of their disciples or fellow workers. They don’t need a crowd to get them on a plane. They show up and come alongside their brothers and sisters in Christ when they are needed. 

Recently, an Arab colleague and I flew to a country where I had never been before to come alongside a former imam who is now serving as a Navigator missionary. In this country, Christians are a persecuted minority. I had the privilege of watching what it looks like for one Arab to come alongside another Arab, like Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to come alongside us. 

I noticed six relational traits in my Arab brother as he came alongside others during our week together. I believe that Navigator disciples everywhere need to grow in these areas if we are to flourish in our Calling. 

Love: If the new believers, disciples and workers that we visited know one thing as a result of our visit, it’s that they are loved. You could see it and feel it. Even if you were watching a silent movie of their time together, you would see how they experienced love.

Presence: There is nothing quite like the ministry of showing up and being there to help people in their world. Even if we had said nothing of value, our presence among them would have ministered to them deeply. Recently, I was with a physician who still talks about how I visited him years ago at the hospital during his work breaks. In this virtual and digital age, physical presence is even more important.

Listening: We planned to teach many things on this visit, but first we listened—sometimes for hours. Author Paul Tournier said that being listened to is so close to being loved that most people can’t tell the difference. 

Practical Help: Their felt needs became our priority. As we traveled around the country visiting new believers and disciples, we found that many of them were struggling to make a living. They wanted help starting businesses to support their families. Although we are not experts in that, we are taking steps to arrange the help that they need. 

The Word: We spent extensive time in the Scriptures to provide perspective that would sustain them after our departure. They valued our advice, but they needed much more than that. We came alongside them with an open heart and an open Bible.

Encouragement: We all need encouragement. Paul and his missionary teams made long and dangerous journeys to strengthen and encourage a few disciples. They went because their friends needed encouragement. We all need someone to believe in us, to see Christ in us, to cultivate the faith growing in us. 

When I was a new believer, just beginning to share my faith with others and disciple them, one of my professors said to me, “I see God’s hand of blessing on you.” That shaped me. Even today it moves my heart to remember that feeling of having someone believe in me. When we left our Arab friends, they knew that we sincerely believe in them. 

How would you feel about someone coming alongside you, to be present in your life, to earnestly listen to your felt needs, to provide tangible and practical help, to encourage you with relevant Scriptures, and to truly believe in you?
 
How far would you be willing to go to come alongside some else?     

David Lyons is an International Vice President of The Navigators. He serves our 5,000 staff in more than 115 countries by coaching leaders and leading change. David is author of Don’t Waste the Pain.

Navigator Founder's Book on Pearl Harbor

By IET Communications

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James Downing, 103, is one of the founding fathers of The Navigators, starting in a Bible study with a small group of naval officers and then serving to advance the Gospel as a Navigator leader until the present day.

On December 7, 1941, Downing was serving the U.S. Navy at Pearl Harbor on the USS West Virginia. In a new book published by NavPress, titled The Other Side of Infamy: My Journey Through Pearl Harbor and the World of War, Downing recounts in intimate detail the events of that fateful morning.

Downing’s unique perspective on Pearl Harbor, World War II, and twentieth-century American history offers insights into how we might live with courage and conviction in our own troubled times. For more information, visit www.navpress.com