January 2016

The Power of Choice

By Jean Fleming

Power of Choice.jpg

No choice I’ve made as a follower of Christ has shaped me more profoundly than the choice to keep a daily date with Jesus. Actually, I make two choices. One, to keep the date and, two, to keep it an affair of the heart. I make these choices over and over.

Our choices shape us. It’s in my date with the Lord that I see Him and I hear, “I am yours and you are mine.” He reminds me that I am forgiven and blessed, that He measures success differently, that where I’m weak He’s strong. Transformation begins here, from the inside out. In our date Jesus gives me something fresh to give to the generations behind me. I believe the choice to keep my date with the Lord has kept me from frittering my life away.

Our choices also reveal us. My choices keep me honest. They help me see if I actually value what I say I value. A thousand possibilities compete for my time and affection. What I choose reveals my values and beliefs. Recently, a mother of young children told me that she gets up 30 minutes before her children—to do Pinterest. Although she would not say that Pinterest is among her highest values, it’s Pinterest that gets her up in the morning.

This year my husband and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary in Hawaii on our way to visit our son, who lives in Japan. We’re early risers even on vacation. Even so, surfer boys were straddling their boards when we got up in the morning. One morning before 6 a.m., I counted approximately 30 surfers waiting for the next good wave. What’s going on here? Teens like to sleep late. I assume their mothers aren’t nagging them to get out of bed and go surfing. So what gets them up?

Desire. It’s an affair of the heart. I suspect that surfers never ask themselves if getting up early to surf is legalistic. Surfers know that desire and discipline feed one another. Desire plus discipline equals delight.

I cannot create desire for God. Desire for God is a gift at the new birth. But I can feed it. I can also drain desire’s holy energy from my life by neglecting my dates with God. So when my desire for God is at low tide, I still keep my date with Jesus. Desire’s tide soon rises again.

Andrew Murray wrote, “The desire and the choice prove what a man is already and decide what he is to become.” This means that our desire and our choice are both indicator and prognosticator.

At 74-years old, my physical energy is diminished. The adventure continues. I must choose where I will spend my time and energy. As I approach the finish line, one thing becomes clear to me: I will end up with the life I’ve chosen.

I’ve kept a morning date with Jesus almost every day for 57 years. I believe this choice has given my life a consistent narrative. This is not an achievement. It is a grace.
 
Jean Fleming and her husband, Roger, have served as Navigators for 50 years. Their first assignment was in San Diego, followed by ministry in Korea, Okinawa, Tucson, Seattle and Colorado Springs. Today Jean and Roger are doing volunteer grassroots ministry in Montrose, Colorado. Jean is the author of five books published by NavPress, including A Mother’s Heart and, most recently, Pursue the Intentional Life.

Advancing the Gospel Through Missional Enterprises

By Jack Benjamin

Missional Enterprises.jpg

I will never forget the moment 24-years ago when the Latin America Regional Director, for whom I have deep respect, made this stunning comment: “It is cruel to talk about the Great Commission in two-thirds of the world.”

“How could that be?” I thought to myself. “The Great Commission is the reason my wife and I just moved to Colombia with our three young children!”

That regional director was Aldo Berndt, a Brazilian. After his bold statement, he saw my distress. So with a gentle smile, Aldo went on to clarify. When fully funded gift-income missionaries launch a new work with the hope of reproducing and sending out laborers, those new laborers often don’t have the funding capacity or time to replicate what the missionary had modeled. The consequence is that future generations of laborers may become discouraged and end up giving the work of the ministry to the “full-time” workers.

“If we want to see nations reached for Christ,” Aldo went on to say, “we must offer the majority of people a different model, one that is more realistic and replicable in their context.”

My Navigator colleague, Jimmy Payton, understood what Aldo was saying. Jimmy had recently started a leather goods manufacturing and export business in Bogotá named Tenazcol. Employees, customers and suppliers—all those relating in some way with Tenazcol—saw that this business was different. They heard the Gospel message and saw it in action. Many were drawn to Christ and followed Him.

The daily opportunity for Jimmy to work side-by-side with his staff proved to be an ideal arrangement for life-on-life discipleship. Some of those employees were discipled well and have gone on to lead the next generation in Colombia.

A decade later, Jimmy and Roberto Blauth (from Brazil), who were serving in Aguascalientes, Mexico, began working on a home construction business called Casas Mas. As with Tenazcol, Casas Mas became a place where life-on-life discipleship and the Scriptures combined with God’s Spirit to make Jesus real to many.

It wasn’t long before a vibrant community of faith grew up in Aguascalientes and, energized by Casas Mas, contributed significantly to a new generation of laborers in Mexico. The word spread and a number of emerging laborers from around Latin America chose to intern at Casas Mas and serve in the Aguascalientes work as part of their ministry training. Today most of them are laboring fruitfully around the region.

In recent years, a group of Navigator alumni who are successful Mexican professionals, including a former Casas Mas general manager, have come together to launch a new generation of missional enterprises such as Tenazcol and Casas Mas. United by this passion, they provide mentoring, subject matter expertise, whole-life discipling and funding to aspiring missional entrepreneurs—people who can serve as Gospel pioneers in other nations.

The Navigators has been involved with missional enterprises for more than three decades. Each of the seven regions in the Worldwide Partnership has missional enterprise initiatives as part of their overall strategy to advance the Navigator Calling. Such enterprises help not only to gain access to closed or hard-to-reach places, but also to establish credibility with the local community in which they are operating.

Please continue praying that God would use these efforts to draw many to Him.
 
To watch a short video about missional enterprises in Latin America, follow this link: https://vimeo.com/65304675
 
Jack Benjamin is director of the Global Enterprise Network, a ministry of The Navigators. He served in Colombia, Chile and Brazil for more than 20 years. He and his wife, Karen, have three adult children and live in Colorado Springs.

 

"We've Prayed Long Enough"

By David Lyons

 Andy and Wezzie

Andy and Wezzie

Last summer Andy Nyirenda climbed on his bicycle with his suitcase and pedaled from his rural Malawian village for many miles to a bus station. He then boarded a crowded bus that took him many more miles to an airport. From there he flew from Malawi to Cambodia to join other next generation Navigator leaders who are being prepared to lead into the future.

Andy is a model of a new generation rising up to fulfill our calling to serve among the poor.

(To watch a video about Andy and what God is doing in rural Malawi, please follow this link: https://vimeo.com/150467525)

The Navigator movement started with sailors in World War II. After the war, the movement spread to college campuses through sailors who received scholarships for young war veterans. Since then, as those students carried the Gospel around the globe, the movement has now spread to 115 nations.
 
For years, Navigators worked primarily among middle class people. But the Gospel of Jesus and His kingdom also calls us to the poor and marginalized. Today more and more Navigator disciples like Andy are responding to that aspect of our Navigator Calling.

Andy was discipled by Navigators working in a university ministry where they were praying that God would send someone to the rural poor of Malawi. One day Andy said, “We’ve prayed long enough; it’s time for us to be the answer to those prayers.”

Andy went and literally pitched a tent in the rural village of Lushombe. There was no electricity or running water. He taught himself to build a home and a toilet. He learned how to farm. And he lived among the villagers.

Crowds of children would gather at his home to watch Tom and Jerry videos on his phone. But someone in the village began spreading rumors that Andy planned to kidnap and sell their children, so they stopped coming to his home.

One day the village chief asked Andy to preach at the funeral of the very man who had spread the rumors about Andy. Andy laughed at the irony of the situation. He performed the funeral and the village began to see more and more of Christ in Andy.

A year later, God led Andy to marry Wezzie, a beautiful young woman in the village. Usually, couples in this village did not actually marry because customs made it too expensive. But Andy and Wezzie decided to set an example of how followers of Christ could marry without going into debt. Villagers brought simple wedding gifts, enough for Andy and Wezzie to trade for cows. This enabled them to demonstrate how to support themselves.

Andy’s farm grew, and he also began to raise chickens. But twice his chicken house burned to the ground. The village chief publicly urged him to consult the local spiritist to find out the cause. But Andy said, “I won’t visit him because I believe in the one true God who is in control of everything.” Among those watching was an old man who stood and said, “I feel that the God this young man worships is a true God.”  Many began to seek Christ.

Today Andy is training 12 disciples in whole-life discipleship that addresses not only issues of the heart, but also health and nutrition and marriage. More than 60 couples have followed Andy and Wezzie in getting married. Andy’s 12 disciples are bicycling to another village to invest in another 12 disciples so that their village can be transformed also. Other village chiefs are asking Andy and his disciples to come to their villages too. But Andy is asking them to wait until he’s sure that the community transformation where they are serving is sustained.

Maybe more of us need to say, “We’ve prayed long enough.”
 
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.

Worldwide Partnership Day of Prayer

By IET Communications

At the heart of our international Navigator work, as our vision statement says, is “a vital movement of the Gospel, fueled by prevailing prayer, flowing freely through relational networks and out into the nations.”

We recognize that the movement of the Gospel must be fueled by prayer. Human effort alone is insufficient to fulfill our calling. We depend on God.

For this reason, the International Executive Team of The Navigators sets aside one day each year when Navigators in 115 nations spend an entire day in prayer. 

In addition to laboring with God for the advance of the Gospel, participants in this event have found that friendships deepen, unity among us grows, hearts draw closer to God, and passion for reaching the nations increases. Plan on a rich and enjoyable time.