July 2016

Cultivating a Culture of Faith

By Mutua Mahiaini

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The International Executive Team (IET) recently held meetings in the Asia-Pacific region, enabling us to come alongside Navigator leaders who are advancing the Gospel in that vast and diverse part of the world. The IET also spent two full days in prayer. God spoke to all of our hearts, encouraging us to constantly develop a culture of faith in our 108-nation Worldwide Partnership.

What do I mean by “culture of faith” and why is it so important?

A culture of faith only grows from one source: Jesus. It emerges and is sustained as people remain focused on Him, in constant worship, looking to His glory. I see this in Psalm 34:1-3, which says, "I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together." A faith culture is not about the pursuit of mere human adventures, or even measurable ministry “success”; rather, it is about pursuing the glory of God as He leads us and as we live steadfastly according to His promises.

Faith inevitably leads to the meaningful adventure God has for us, and it produces eternal results. Faith injects freshness and creativity into our lives and work. Because the world is changing, and because each generation presents new challenges, faith spurs us to serve people in ways that might be quite different than what has been done in the past. Faith challenges us to be innovative, to take risks, to try new things—even if we happen to “fail.”

People of faith are so motived by the glory of God, His very nature, that they discover new pathways to make His glory known in a lost world. When we have passion for God and His glory, we will find a way forward, we will persevere, and we will work tenaciously with God to fulfill our callings. This is true for all Navigators, including missionary pioneers who open new ministries and local laborers who seek to reach their relatives and neighbors.

A culture of faith is also characterized by a spirit of hope. Hope can seem like an ethereal concept. But when God’s people live in faith, hope becomes something that other people can see and experience. Peter wrote, "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." Hope is so visible that people will come and ask us why we are so hopeful! As we revere Christ as Lord, hope is the natural byproduct.

Finally, a culture of faith brings people together in unity. In faith, believers in Christ are all focused on the same God. We are all submitting our lives to Jesus. Our collective humility before God reduces prideful tendencies that lead to conflict and division. Our Worldwide Partnership is incredibly diverse, but as we worship together in faith we experience increasing unity—even across cultures and languages.

A culture of faith—characterized by a passion for God’s glory in the world, powerful hope, and beautiful unity—is crucial for us as Navigators. Why is it so important? For one, faith is what God wants from us! Hebrews 11:6 says, without faith it is impossible to please God. And in Luke 18, Jesus asked a compelling question: "When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"

The second reason why we must sustain a vibrant culture of faith is to prevent us from becoming an “empty shell,” an organization (or an individual) that just maintains traditions and lives on memories. A faith culture will keep us pressing onward toward the fulfilment of His purposes and glory in the world. We will be energized stewards of our Navigator vision for reaching the lost and advancing the Gospel through spiritual generations.   

Mutua Mahiaini is the International President of The Navigators. Mutua and his wife, Stephanie, led our work in Kenya, then in Côte d’Ivoire, and then as Regional Director for Africa for 13 years. Mutua and Stephanie now live in Colorado Springs. They have four adult children.

New Neighbors

By David Lyons

 Stock Photo by iStock

Stock Photo by iStock

"Have you met the new neighbors?” The young man who lives with us had just met our new neighbors, and he wanted us to meet them also. Meeting neighbors is one of the most important skills of insiders who seek to make Christ known in their neighborhoods, whether in Colorado Springs or in the Middle East.

Burhan and Rima (not their real names) are Arab Navigator disciples who moved from their home country to another country in the Middle East. They moved with the purpose of being the presence of Jesus among Muslim neighbors.

Then conflicts in the country heated up and bullets started to fly. One day their daughter ducked when a bullet hit the wall above her head on their balcony. Other people fled the neighborhood, but Burhan and Rima stayed, in Jesus’ name.

Ahmed and Ayesha (also not their real names) grew up in a nearby village, where some were known for being fiercely Muslim. Growing up, Ayesha was an outstanding student, especially in Islamic studies. But one day her Imam (Muslim teacher) offended her with a lewd insult, and she became open to new ideas beyond Islam. Ahmed, a young man from the village, won Ayesha’s heart and hand in marriage, and took her to the city where he was starting a new business. They moved in across the hall from Burhan and Rima, glad to escape the smothering atmosphere of their village.

Soon Ahmed, Ayesha, Burhan and Rima were doing life together, raising babies and becoming close friends. Rima was gifted in sharing Christ with strangers, but cautious about coming on too strong with Ahmed and Ayesha, knowing the fierce reputation of some in their tribe. But eventually she couldn’t help herself. She began sharing her living, personal relationship with God.

Eventually, Burhan and Rima sensed that their close friends might be open to reading the Bible. After much prayer they invited them to go through the “99 names of God,” well-known among Muslims, but to do so using the Gospel of John in Arabic. In time, other neighbors also joined their weekly discussions.

One day Rima asked Ayesha, “Do you believe that Jesus died for you?” Ayesha said, “No!” This is one of the hardest things for Muslims to believe, because they are explicitly taught not to believe this. Later that night, Jesus appeared to Ayesha in a dream, showed her the scars in His hands and side, and asked, “Why don’t you believe that I died for you?”

Early the next morning Ayesha could hardly wait to cross the hall to tell Rima what had happened. “I believe!” For the next few years Burhan and Rima poured their life into Ahmed and Ayesha as new followers of Isa al-Masih (Jesus the Messiah). Ayesha focused her passion for study on learning the Bible.

Recently, Burhan and Rima were led to move away. A few months later, when I met Ahmed and Ayesha, they expressed how painful it was to not be near Burhan and Rima. But they were sharing Christ with their family and neighbors.

Ahmed sometimes complains that his wife spends more time in the Scriptures than with him. But he’s glad that she does because when he shares Christ with his friends and family he brings them home so that she can answer their questions. Who knows where this will lead?

So, here in Colorado Springs, I’m eager to meet our new neighbors. It might lead to a great adventure. J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where you might be swept off to.”    

David Lyons is an International Vice President of The Navigators. He serves our 5,000 staff in more than 100 countries by coaching leaders and leading change. David is author of Don’t Waste the Pain.

Supporting Our Courageous Pioneers

By a Navigator Leader in the MENA Region

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In recent months, about 30 men showed up in front of a small business in a war-torn Middle Eastern town to harass the Christ-follower who owned the business. The men were sent to threaten the businessman so that he would stop his activities.

Unbending to fear, the businessman stepped outside and explained his work to help refugees by supplying them with food and household necessities. He added that he also gave people the opportunity to learn more about the Bible. By God’s power, each of the men retreated.

The businessman, who helped to pioneer the Navigator work in this town, decided the next day to spend time with the leader of the men who had threatened him the day before. I was concerned about this meeting, but he told me this: “I am praying for this gang leader to become my friend because if he receives Christ as savior, can you imagine how the Gospel will advance?”

Many Navigator pioneers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are expanding God’s reach into very difficult situations. Because of war and threats, many people have been displaced from their homes. In May, one of our friends was going home when a bomb in a garbage bin exploded. Had he passed by that spot a few moments earlier, he could have been killed. His response to this terrible event was to say, “I raised my family and others to love Jesus and walk with Him. I know where I am going if I die.”

Our pioneers can’t make it alone. They need support. Thankfully, the Navigator movement in the MENA region has mature leaders who are willing to place their own lives on the line to uphold the pioneers. The Navigator term for this type of leader, which is modeled by leaders in the New Testament, is “alongsider.” It means that we come alongside those who are laboring for Christ, providing them with the physical, emotional, material and spiritual help they need to be fruitful.

Although fulfilling this role in dangerous areas is especially challenging, the Lord has protected us. Crossing country borders and moving through checkpoints keeps us in constant prayer. One time, just 100 meters from where we were staying, a rocket was launched at insurgents.

Taking these risks, however, is essential to the success of our work. Alongsiders are able to lead pioneers through the Scriptures, teaching biblically about how to move the Gospel from a generation of new believers into future generations. We listen to them in love as they share about family needs. We help them think through big decisions. We supply them with ministry materials that are relevant to their contexts. And we deliver supplies, such as blankets, food and heating fuel.

Mostly, we keep them encouraged in Christ. After all, He is the great “alongsider,” the God who promises to always abide with us. One Saturday morning, we shared a rich time in the Word with our pioneering friends, encouraging them to sustain a lifelong intimacy with Jesus. This intimacy with Christ is the inner fuel needed for persisting in the Great Commission through hardship, fear and opposition.

Paul expressed this truth in 2 Thessalonians 3:5. May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.

God is giving our pioneers generational fruit. My friend the shop owner is living proof of this. His father led him to Christ. When war forced him to move to a different city, the shop owner led four families to Christ. Two of those families are discipling other families. Now there are three generations of Christ-followers in just that town, and the work continues to expand. Recently, two university graduates and a young couple came to Christ.

Please pray for the Navigator work in the MENA region, that we will see God protecting pioneers and the alongsiders who support them. Pray that God will establish more local laborers who can carry the Gospel into their relational networks, and into future generations.

Malaysian Navigators Celebrate 50 Years

By IET Communications

In April 2016, five generations of Malaysian Navigators held the 50th Anniversary National Conference. Some of the participants were just four-years old and others were in their late 70s, a living fulfillment of the Navigator vision to see the Gospel expand through spiritual generations.

Former International President Mike Treneer spoke from John 17. Jim Chew, who started the Malaysian work in 1966, spoke about the importance of keeping Christ at the center of all we do. Conference participants also honored past country leaders and the numerous missionaries sent from Malaysia to other parts of the world.
 
One Malaysian organizer said it was encouraging to see a new generation of leaders at the conference. Please pray for the Malaysian Navigator ministries as they advance the Gospel into the next generation.