July 2017

Collision with Mortality

By Eddie Broussard

Mortality.jpg

On October 13, 2016, I had a head-on collision with my mortality.
 
While on a work trip overseas, I was finishing the last two laps of a swim when a horrendous pain jolted my back. I knew I was in trouble. Twenty minutes later, after attention from a friend, I was in a taxi headed to a hospital. The emergency room nurse gave me two white pills to chew. The next thing I knew, a doctor looked me in the face and said, “You are having a myocardial infarction.”
 
Within minutes I was in an ambulance headed for a different hospital to have a heart catheterization. A brilliant and kind cardiologist reopened the clogged artery in my heart and inserted a stent. Nine days later, my wife Barbie and I boarded a flight for home.
 
After four months of rehabilitation, I had a green light to return to work. That was great news, but I began to ask how I could step back into a demanding international role? And I wondered how I might be able to cope with my concerns about having another heart attack. I felt vulnerable and insecure.
 
During my months of recovery, it became clear that God was using vulnerability and uncertainty to create in me an inner life of:

  • Rest that comes from faith
  • Peace that comes from trust
  • Joy that comes from worship

Rest and Faith
Hebrews 3:19 says of the children of Israel, “So we see that they were not able to enter [his rest], because of their unbelief.” This verse implies that I cannot have God’s rest unless I live by faith. Resting means more than just resting from work. The author of Hebrews is talking about the effect of rest on how I live. When I live by faith, I don’t have to worry about the pressures of work, because God is enough. He will give me what I need to do what he asks of me.
 
This transforms my way of living and working. Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29). When I am in the yoke with Jesus, I am working; but the burden of the weight is on Him.
 
Trust and Peace
I often lack peace because I’m weighed down by worries. And yet, Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” And Philippians 4:6–7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” 

One day last month, Barbie and I listed the things that were weighing on us—managing my health, broken appliances, getting income taxes done, finishing our will. Then we brought our needs to God and cast them on Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). He will carry the burden so I can walk in peace.
 
Joy and Worship
Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” It is God’s presence that brings joy. But how do we experience God’s presence? Worship! In worship, we focus on God and declare His infinite beauty and worth.
 
While in the hospital overseas, I received a painful shot of blood thinner twice a day to prevent my blood from clotting. When I heard the nurse tearing open the syringe wrapper, I knew it meant pain. God reminded me that the sound of the wrapper meant that my Good Shepherd was caring for me. It was in the pain that I experienced my Shepherd’s love! I was full of joy!
 
Every day I am learning to depend on God and not on my own strength. Daily I am seeking God to shape within me a heart of rest that comes from faith, a heart of peace that comes from trust, and a heart of joy that comes from worship.
 
Eddie Broussard joined the International Executive Team in May 2015. He became Navigator staff in 1980. In 1992, he joined the CoMission movement, working in the post-Soviet countries. From 1998 to 2014, he served on the U.S. National Leadership Team. Eddie and his wife, Barbie, were married in 1996.

Reaching Mom

By Connie Ch'ng

Born in China, my mom emigrated to Malaysia when she was seven. As a Chinese woman living in Malaysia, she grew up with strong Buddhist beliefs and Taoist practices and was not receptive to the Christian faith, which is often seen as a Western religion.
 
But at age 90, in January of 2016, my mother gave her life to Jesus. For me, it is an indescribable joy to see my mother walking with God in peace after 38 years of prayer.
 
Through this long process of prayer, serving and hoping, I have learned a lot about how God works in the lives of people who start out distant from God. And because so many of us have relatives and friends who are not believers, perhaps some of the principles I’ve learned might help encourage you as you interact with those you love.
 
First, as a Chinese woman, my mother believed strongly in the importance of family and generational honor. This is, of course, a good trait; but it is common in Chinese culture for people to venerate deceased relatives by going to temples to “send money” to them in the spirit world, or to have small shrines in homes where they offer food to dead ancestors during festivals.
 
So, when my sister and I became Christians, we wanted my mother to remain certain of our love and respect for her. The Scriptures command us to honor our parents. But we had to do this in ways that would also honor God. Long ago, in a discussion about this with my mother, I spoke frankly with her.
 
“Mom,” I said, “I think it is better for me to honor you when you are alive than after you have died.”
 
I assured her that she could always count on my love and participation in her life. This comforted her and she agreed with me. I also communicated that I would show filial piety after her passing. So, every year I would go with my family members to the graves of our grandparents to clean the graves and pay honor and respect, without participating in the religious activities that involve worship.
 
The principle I learned is that believers can avoid setting up unnecessary cultural barriers between people and Jesus. There are ways to give people the pure Gospel of Jesus and His kingdom within each cultural context.
 
Second, it would not have been enough for me to only use words of love without any demonstration of love. So my husband, Alan, and I always spent our holidays as a family with her. Every month Alan wrote my parents a letter just to keep them informed of what was happening in the family. Included in that letter would be a small monetary gift to express our filial piety. We did many other things to demonstrate our love for her.
 
Perhaps, in our world of too much information, active love is even more important than just nice words. Perhaps people need to see love and experience it. I believe my mom did. Hearing the Gospel is not enough. They also need to see the Gospel.
 
Finally, I’ve learned how important it is for believers to live godly, transformed lives among those who don’t believe in Christ. After my sister and I became followers of Jesus, my mom saw the deep changes taking place in us. This did not mean we had to be perfect! We could be transparent without being “glossy” or artificial. My mother simply saw the work of the Holy Spirit taking place in our lives over the years.
 
The principle here is for believers to walk in submission to the Holy Spirit, that we might reflect God’s character among those around us and display His grace in our imperfections.
 
There’s certainly more than these factors involved in a person’s journey to faith in Christ. But I know these biblical principles—prayer, not setting up cultural barriers to the Gospel, good works, and a transformed life—helped my mother move forward to Jesus.
 
Today, when I’m with my mother, I can see that she is deeply at peace. She is sure of God’s love and forgiveness. Although she is illiterate, throughout the day she prays naturally in Jesus’s name.
 
As you think about and pray for those in your relational and family network who still don’t believe in Jesus, perhaps you can remember to persevere in prayer and love. Acts 16:31 has always inspired Alan and me to never lose hope. It says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 
 
Connie Ch’ng works alongside her husband, Alan, an International Vice President of The Navigators. She and Alan served in the Asia-Pacific region for more than six years before Alan joined the International Executive Team. They have three grown sons.
 

Sweet As Honey

By David Lyons

 Photo courtesy of Annie Spratt

Photo courtesy of Annie Spratt

Can honey be a tool for advancing the Gospel in Africa? Ask one smiling couple serving with the Africa Navigators and they will give you a resounding “yes!”
 
Peter and his wife, Charity, have long had a heart for serving farmers in their country. These farmers often struggle to earn a living or pay for their children’s schooling. As Peter thought and prayed about how to reach these people for Christ and disciple them, he knew that he also needed to help them economically. But he wanted them to be self-sufficient rather than dependent on charity.
 
One day, after a visit to a beekeeper in Zambia, God gave Peter an idea about beehives. If he could provide beehives to people in the rural villages, he could then buy the honey from the hive owners and sell it for a profit. This would create a business that would bring economic benefits to the community and also fund the region’s ministry.
 
The business started with grants from the British Navigators for the honey processor and from the NavPartners Children Mission for the beehives. Oversight and direction was provided by the Africa branch of the Navigator Global Enterprise Network (GEN), the entity that coordinates Navigator “missional enterprises” around the world.
 
Peter decided to organize the honey producers into groups. He encouraged them to share the responsibility for caring for the beehives, to be accountable to each other. Then he arranged for the beehive groups to save money collectively, and to use the capital to start or grow businesses, and to pay the school tuition for village children. Thus, the beehive industry is producing a generational social impact. Moreover, Peter finds ways to share about Christ among the honey producers. The business has become a natural platform for the Gospel to bring about spiritual transformation.
 
As with all Navigator missional enterprises, business leaders work toward financial sustainability, social impact and the spiritual transformation of people who connect with the business. Peter and Charity serve together in this endeavor to ensure that the business is operating well on each of these three interconnected efforts. So far, they have engaged 233 villagers. Forty-five of these people have either started or are growing beehive enterprises. As a result of the financial growth, more and more children are able to attend school.
 
As for the impact of the Gospel, five young people are being discipled and have been trained as apicultural technicians. Peter and Charity have also trained six group leaders to be ministry leaders. Peter says that the Gospel is shared more frequently now and is better understood by the rural people, in part because they see biblical truth expressed through the business and relationships.
 
Please pray for Peter and Charity as they advance the Gospel through this honey business. We ask God to spread His powerful Word among the nations and to transform lives. As Psalm 119:103 says, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”
 
Navigator staff Jodi Hook provided the original reporting for this story.
 
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.

Mike Shamy Transitions from the IET

By Mutua Mahiaini

 Mike and Audrey Shamy

Mike and Audrey Shamy

Mike Shamy, an International Vice President of The Navigators since 2004, will be stepping out of his role as a member of the International Executive Team in February 2018.

Mike, who is from New Zealand, and his wife, Audrey, joined The Navigators in 1980. In 1989, he became the Country Leader of New Zealand. In 1999, he and Audrey moved to the U.S. to lead the Metro Mission. Since 2004, Mike and Audrey have played a vital role in supporting the Navigator work primarily in Latin America, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

As long as I’ve known Mike, I’ve seen his passion for helping local Navigators advance the Gospel among those who are learning about Christ. In his many years of travel around the world, he has taught from the Scriptures to equip ordinary men and women who influence their relational networks for Christ. Reflecting this calling, Mike also co-authored the NavPress book titled The Insider with Jim Petersen.

Another area in which Mike has had tremendous influence is developing and equipping a new generation of leaders in our Worldwide Partnership.

Mike is one of those men who is sincerely concerned with individual needs. He’s authentic, the real thing. He’s a man of strong and good opinions, but he’s also very humble. His walk with God is deep, and his love for the Scriptures is vibrant.

Please pray for our dear friends Mike and Audrey as they move into a new phase of ministry in New Zealand.