January 2014

Communities of Grace

By Mutua Mahiaini

 Photo Courtesy Rosie Frasier

Photo Courtesy Rosie Frasier

Before Stephanie and I moved from Kenya to Colorado Springs in 2012, I had the privilege of experiencing the transforming power of a God-centered small group of friends. The group of Navigator leaders decided to go beyond our work responsibilities and to meet regularly in Nairobi. Our goal was to help one another grow in Christ.
 
We did indeed grow. What made this group so important in my life was the spirit of humility and vulnerability that grew in our hearts. We confessed to each other, sought to understand each person’s deepest needs, and prayed fervently. We inspired one another onward in our work, and encouraged each other through God’s Spirit working in us. This was indeed a community of grace.
 
This cherished group of friends illustrates an important biblical principle: Although we each have a personal relationship with Jesus, we need a small community of believers to fully mature into the likeness of Christ. Spiritual growth does not occur in isolation.
 
The New Testament speaks approximately 60 times about the “one another” dynamics of spiritual life. Clearly, strong relationships are at the heart of God’s will for us. In Ephesians 4:2-3, Paul writes: "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." Paul speaks here of keeping something that we already have. And he calls us to “make every effort” to protect that unity. Our relationships really matter to God.
 
Community is essential for sustained encouragement, love, and service. The wife of one member in our group inspired us as she went through a prolonged illness that caused extreme fatigue. Just making breakfast left her exhausted. But despite her physical struggle, she continued her outreach work in God’s strength. She saw every relationship in her circle as an opening to share the life of Christ. Today the Gospel continues to spread through those relational networks.
 
Seeing our friend remain passionate for ministry even during a debilitating illness rebuked us (in a healthy way). She demonstrated that we should not focus on our limitations, but on God’s power. She invigorated our hearts and reminded us that God can use simple acts of service to have a lasting impact.
 
In this way, a community of grace demonstrates what Hebrews 10:24-25 says. "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."
 
We also need a community of grace to be victorious over sin. Notice the counsel that Paul gave young Timothy. "Flee the evil desires of youth, he said, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart" (2 Timothy 2:22).
 
Because we are all sinful, falling short of God’s holy nature, the tendency is for us to isolate ourselves. Isolation is a way of coping with shame and guilt. But hiding is the opposite of what’s needed for healing and growth. That’s why the grace of God is so important. It gives us the freedom to come out of hiding. Grace is the foundation for a safe community in which we can grow and be healed.
 
Communities of grace, like the one I experienced in Nairobi, are foundational to everything we do in the Navigator work. The International Executive Team and our Regional Directors have embarked on a long-term, in-depth study of community life in the New Testament. May God lead us together so that we can serve our Worldwide Partnership according to His Word.
 
Please pray that our Navigator communities around the world will be known as Christ-centered, safe places where people find healing, growth, and unity. And may Jesus be revealed through these communities among the lost.

Mutua Mahiaini is an International Vice President of The Navigators. 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.
 

Navigators Reaching the Workplace

By Esther Waruiru

 Pete Kuehni

Pete Kuehni

Bob, a small business owner in Canada, was inwardly stressed, abrasive with his employees, and angry at home. His company needed help, so he hired Canadian business consultant Pete Kuehni, who had been discipled in college by Navigators in Canada. Pete (pictured here) soon saw that Bob had some spiritual struggles that were affecting his company. But he didn’t immediately have permission from Bob to delve into those issues. Pete prayed and waited for God to lead.
 
Over the next months, Pete built his relationship with Bob in personal ways while working on the relational aspects of Bob’s management style. Eventually, Pete suggested that Bob undergo a formal evaluation of his qualities and failures as the company leader. This would include feedback from his employees. Bob courageously agreed.
 
The feedback Bob received was a rebuke. As they reviewed the results together, Pete could see tears welling up in Bob’s eyes. He was devastated. Everything in his life seemed wrong. Then Bob asked, “Pete, is there any hope for me?”

Pete took this as permission to go deeper with Bob. He knew that Bob had some Christian influence in his past, but his nominal belief in God had not changed his heart and attitudes.
 
“Is there any hope for you?” Pete said. “Absolutely! Not because of me, but Jesus is right here with us. He is calling you. And if you are willing to answer His call, let’s go!”
 
Bob agreed to embark on a journey of spirit-filled discipleship with Pete. Together they dove deeply into the Scriptures, which helped Bob align his life, work, and identity with the truth. Pete also encouraged Bob to apply the Scriptures to his role as a business leader.
 
Today, says Pete, Bob’s life is completely different. He’s treating his employees well, the morale in the workplace is more positive, and his home life is more peaceful. Everyone has seen dramatic changes in Bob.
 
Pete and his business partner, Chip Robinson, have seen this type of change happen among many business clients over the years. They have found that business is a natural environment for outreach and discipleship. For one, the workplace provides an organic way to connect with people. For another, the workplace is rife with spiritual and relational issues that provide opportunities for discussions leading to Christ: ego, conflicts, fear, leadership, money, and corruption. The Scriptures speak troves about all these topics, but rarely do believers know how to winsomely inject what the Bible says into the workplace.
 
Pete enjoys helping people move from surface issues to the deeper struggles of the heart. He looks for how God might be working in them. When he sees indications of spiritual hunger, he gently asks more questions. He shares his own struggles in life. Then the Gospel can move naturally across a bridge of genuine relational trust. 
 
Pete and Chip would never have this type of access to business people if they didn’t both have professional competence and credibility. As a team they complement one another by contributing their unique qualities and talents. Pete’s focus is on leadership development and workplace relationships. Chip’s role is to help business owners with organizational processes. They are top-level consultants who work hard together to improve the companies they serve.
 
About two years ago, he and Chip started their own consulting company, called “DeliberateU.” He and Chip seek to love God in everything they do, to help businesses thrive, and to join Jesus in reaching the lost. These values, he said, were established during his early years with The Navigators. 
 
Pete believes that as God’s people engage in the work He is doing, the lines of purpose in their lives never grow slack, tied tightly as they are to their future in heaven, kept taut by hope (Colossians 1:5, MSG).
 
“I am moved and privileged to be able to come alongside and encourage and invite [business professionals] into all that God would have for them as His person in that workplace.”
 
Please pray for Pete, Chip, and the many other working professionals among The Navigators who serve God’s kingdom everyday through their professions. They represent our Navigator vision, which states that “Ordinary people, in many walks of life, are joyfully leading integrated lives. They live as fruitful insiders among the lost.”

Esther Waruiru served with The Navigators of Kenya and the Africa Regional Team before coming to the U.S. Esther is an International Vice President serving field ministries in the U.S., Canada, and Africa.

A Special Breed

By David Lyons

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Navigators who pioneer Gospel movements around the world are a special breed. They see things the rest of us don’t see. They blaze new trails. They are not held back by fears that would restrain most people. And they persevere when others would give up. They remind me of a slogan that describes those who pioneered the state of Nebraska in the 1800s. It says, “The cowards never came. The weak died along the way. Only the strong arrived.”
 
Navigator pioneers are unique because they are called to advance the Gospel of Jesus and His kingdom through spiritual generations of laborers who live and disciple among the lost. The success of Navigator pioneers is not measured by where they go or what they start, but by what they leave behind. A Navigator pioneering venture is not finished until there is a foundational generation of disciples, laborers, and leaders to carry the movement onward. Sometimes that comes quickly. Sometimes it takes decades. Sometimes God gives us many foundational people. Sometimes He gives us just one or two, like Abraham and Sarah.
 
My wife and I were inspired recently when we met with Navigators in the Middle East who are pioneering new Gospel movements in that troubled part of the world. These pioneers refuse to be restrained by dangers and active opposition. They are prudent. They pay attention to wise counsel about dangers. But they keep pursuing those who don’t know Jesus. That’s what pioneers do. 
 
So I asked them, “Who are the foundational people who will sustain these movements of the Gospel?” I was hoping for two or three names. I rejoiced as they described how the Gospel is on the move through 23 foundational people. Most of them are from Muslim backgrounds. They are hungry for the Word. They are full of fresh zeal and love. Although religious leaders oppose them, they will not be stopped.
 
Then I asked our friends, “What do these foundational people need in order to be ready to sustain the movement?” Again I rejoiced as they identified the following needs: the simplicity of the pure Gospel, depth in the Word, courageous faith and obedience, and a heart and vision for the spiritual generations already growing up around them. It will take that and more. But these pioneers have their unwavering eyes on the goal. 
 
Within The Navigators we talk about four kinds of leaders who are needed to start and sustain movements of the Gospel: pioneers, local laborers, local leaders, and mobile alongsiders. These are all vital links in a living chain. Without pioneers the Gospel will not advance among new people groups. Without local laborers and leaders, new movements of the Gospel will die. Without the encouragement that mobile alongsiders bring, pioneers, local laborers and local leaders will lose heart and perspective. All four are needed. But after my recent meetings with Syrian Navigators, I am thanking God for the fierce, persevering pioneers among us.
 
Please pray with us in the coming months for our work in Syria, and for the many pioneering teams around the world who serve in the Navigator international work.

David Lyons is an International Vice President of The Navigators. He oversees international initiatives, communications, and networking of 5000 staff in 115 countries. David is author of Don’t Waste the Pain.
 

Missions Prayer Focus: The Philippines

By IET Communications

Nearly two months have passed since the Philippines was hit by typhoon Haiyan. Shortly after the storm, Navigators in the Philippines (none of them American) worked hard to seek out and help other Navigators who had been impacted. They also served many others who had lost property and loved ones.

According to Navigator staff in the country, more than 100 people within our ministries were found and helped. Sadly, we know that at least 12 people within Navigator relational networks have died as a result of the storm. One Navigator, who ministers at a university in Tacloban, lost her home. Many students in our university ministries struggled to find food and water during the first week after the storm.
 
The critical focus now is rebuilding and recovery. This will, of course, be a long-term process. We ask that you pray daily for Navigators in the Philippines. First, pray that Navigators would be the healing presence of Christ among those devastated by the storm. Second, pray that Navigators in the Philippines would be strengthened and sustained as they rebuild their own lives and serve others.