January 2013

To Know Him Better . . . Together

By Mutua Mahiaini

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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.

International Forum 2012: God's Promises

By David Lyons

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The idea of making Christ known through spiritual generations is deeply imbedded in the DNA of Navigator disciples and laborers. Here’s a glimpse of how that DNA, passed through the generations, is showing up today.

In October, Navigator leaders from all over the world gathered in Kenya. We had spent months preparing for the forum by studying Isaiah 40-66. I remember once asking a group of Navigator missionaries what promises God had used to launch them into their ministry. Nearly all of them turned to Isaiah. It’s safe to say that these chapters contain most of the promises that are foundational to our Navigator family and movement.

So in this Forum we were returning to our scriptural roots. We spent each morning studying Isaiah together. In the afternoons, Mike Treneer took us deep into the text. He exhorted us to: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn; look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was but one, and I blessed him and made him many (Isaiah 51:1-2).

Isaiah spoke those words to God’s people more than a thousand years after Abraham had died. The promises that God had given to Abraham had been passed on from generation to generation until they were inherited by Isaiah. Then Isaiah passed them on to the people of God who lived during his lifetime. Those same promises were passed down through many more generations to our more recent spiritual ancestors: Dawson Trotman, Lorne Sanny, and others.
 
Because of that heritage, Navigators have often spoken of “claiming God’s promises” as foundational to our work. However, as Mike Treneer pointed out to us in Kenya, it seems better to say that God’s promises claim us. It is God who pursues and leads us. He enables us to believe that His great promises and purposes apply to each of us who trusts God. As Dawson Trotman used to say, “The need of the hour is an army of soldiers dedicated to Jesus Christ, who believe not only that He is God, but that He can fulfill every promise He has ever made.”
 
Toward the end of the Forum, a Navigator leader confided in me that he’d never before really grasped the idea of claiming God’s promises. He’d accepted it because the idea came from leaders he respected. It sounded inspiring. By studying Isaiah during the Forum, and by tracing the promises of God back to Abraham, he told me that he finally “got it.”
 
Recently our oldest son and his wife had their first baby, the first of our grandchildren who will carry on our family name. But we hope that he will carry on more than our name. We hope that all of our grandchildren will inherit the promises that are foundational to our life and ministry. That is the DNA that has been passed on to us through generations of Navigator disciples. And that is the DNA that we must pass on to this generation and those to come.

David Lyons is an International Vice President of The Navigators. He oversees international initiatives, communications, and networking of 5,000 staff in more than 100 countries. David is author of Don’t Waste the Pain.

International Forum 2012: Unity and Impact

By Mike Treneer

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The psalmist said, "How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!" That is what we experienced during the recent International Forum in Kenya, during which more than 200 men and women in our international leadership community came from 50 countries. Together we fostered stronger connections, gained greater alignment with our vision, and addressed crucial issues related to the future of our Worldwide Partnership.

The importance of this remarkable bond among our leaders cannot be understated. If we had struggled with division in our midst, our efforts would have been stalled. God’s guidance among us would have been stymied. Thankfully, our international leadership community was able to collaborate fully in our effort to advance the Gospel among the lost. I believe that the positive impacts of the conference will ripple onward for many years to come.

After reflecting on the forum, I believe there are four primary ways that it impacted our international leaders.

Focus on God's Promises

First, God gave us rich times together in the book of Isaiah. As we refocused on God’s promises in Isaiah, God captured our hearts. Knowing the promises of God and knowing that He will fulfill His purposes renewed our energy and passion. This focus on God’s promises encouraged us as leaders to continue leading from the Scriptures. As we trust God and act upon His promises, our ministries around the world will flourish more and more.

Remembering What God Has Done

Second, the conference helped our leaders realize just how much God has done over the decades through The Navigators. Here were people from many tribes, languages, and nations gathered together, being one in the Spirit. The Forum was a living expression of the way God has expanded His kingdom through us into so many different parts of the world. This was encouraging because we know that such expansion and unity could not have happened by human effort alone! It became clear to everyone that God has been answering our prayers—ever since Dawson Trotman launched The Navigators so many years ago.

Part of the Big Story

Others expressed the joy and encouragement of knowing that they are part of a bigger story. Many of our leaders, especially in closed countries, have little opportunity to interact with others in our movement. We were encouraged to hear firsthand accounts of what God is doing in different parts of the world.

For example, we heard how God is using Christian school teachers to reach people in rural parts of Africa. We heard about amazing fruitfulness in the Middle East. We learned what God is doing among the poor through nearly 70 Navigator communities in the Philippines. Many of these stories were shared not just in the plenary sessions, but also in private conversations, in small groups, and over meals. In short, the Forum provided an opportunity for everyone to see that they are part of a larger body—and the unfolding plan of God to reach the nations. This sense of belonging is crucial for our Navigator leaders.

International Collaboration

Finally, the Forum played a major role in helping us develop ministry strategies. These strategies are important because they become the practical outworking of our Calling, Values, and Vision. Our leaders made great strides on the crucial issues that we must address in order to carry the Gospel further into the nations.

For example, one group worked on ideas for reaching the millions of illiterate people in the world. Another group studied ways to serve the poor and oppressed. Still another group focused attention on ways to support and grow microenterprises as a means for beginning and sustaining Gospel movements in closed nations. We also addressed our need for improved international communications, administrative services, and ministry materials. In short, our leaders planned ways to collaborate more, showing a strong desire to serve one another in love.

Space does not permit me to recount all the ways God used the forum to strengthen our Worldwide Partnership. Certainly God touched the hearts of every participant in unique and personal ways. The success of the Forum is yet another milestone in our movement and evidence that we can put our full trust in Christ as we look to the future.

Mike Treneer is International President of The Navigators. Mike and Chris lived in Kenya for 16 years where Mike helped develop our Africa ministries and became our Africa Director. Mike served on the International Executive Team and led our Europe work before becoming President in 2005.