July 2018

From Anger to Forgiveness

By David R., Regional Director for Eurasia

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Abandoned at birth, Sophia (not her real name) was taken to a cold, gloomy Eurasian orphanage. She was one of 250 children living in a three-story building. Strict and sometimes abusive government teachers raised the children. In this oppressive system, Sophia would attempt to survive until she was 16-years old.

Most of the kids in her institution had lice. The food was bland. Chores were rigorous. Punishments were severe. At age six, after committing a minor infraction, Sophia was forced to hold up a heavy chair for an extended period. On some occasions, the teachers beat the kids with phone cords and then placed them in hot showers.

In this lifeless environment, Sophia bonded with some of the other orphans. They defended one another against the harsh treatment of the teachers. They were her brothers and sisters through elementary and high school. But
she would lose those friendships at age 16, when the orphanage forced Sophia to leave without any money or relational support.

As a result of this harsh and loveless upbringing, Sophia says that her heart increasingly filled with anger toward her mother, whom she had never met.

“I was very angry in high school,” said Sophia. “I wanted to find my mother and hurt her with words. I knew from my experience at the orphanage that words couldbe very heavy and painful. I wanted to use words to make her pay for what she had done to me.”

Despite her hardships, Sophia managed to enter college. She moved into a student house and lived with some Russian girls from her orphanage. A Christian woman would come to visit them. Through that woman, Sophia met a Navigator missionary, Jenna (not her real name), who began caring for her and reading the Bible with her.

“Jenna was a woman of integrity,” she says. “Until I met her, I had never seen words and actions together in a person. She was always caring for the poor. During one of our Bible studies, Jenna showed me verses that said that God had adopted us all—that without God everyone is an orphan.”

In 2006, Jenna invited Sophia to a camp for young people who had an interest in knowing more about Jesus. Sophia attended the camp and surrendered her life to God. This humility before God opened her to revolutionary change by the power of the Holy Spirit.

“God showed me that I was not perfect, and that God also loved my mother,” Sophia recalls. “I began to realize that I had no right to judge her. Because of God’s Spirit and His Word, I could see that my anger toward my mother was caused by pride.”

Jenna continued to help Sophia mature in Christ through the spiritual disciplines—reading the Scriptures and prayer. Sophia also became strongly connected to a community of Navigators in Eurasia. By God’s power, she realized that her mother must have been suffering with guilt and pain, and she longed to remove that pain. God had replaced her anger with compassion.

Through a remarkable series of events in 2009 to 2010, Sophia discovered that her mother lived with other relatives in a rural village. They arranged a time for Sophia to go to her mother’s home and meet her for the first time.

“That first moment—I was praying. It was hard to believe,” Sophia said. “I was dealing with a lot of pain. My mother was very nervous. But I was thankful that God had removed my anger. I sat with her and told her that I forgave her. She cried a lot. I told her that I could forgive her because of my faith in Jesus.”

Today, Sophia has a growing relationship with her mother and extended family. She also serves as an integral part of our Navigator team in Eurasia. Her long-term goal is to finish a post-graduate degree that will enable her to work with orphans as a teacher or counselor.

“I want to share the Gospel with them. I can be a reference to help them survive after they leave the orphanages. I understand them and their needs,” Sophia said. “Maybe when they graduate I can help
them join a faith community like I found.”

What about you? Do you need to forgive someone? Sophia’s story demonstrates that if we humble ourselves before God and walk closely with Him, He will transform us and give us the power to move from anger to forgiveness.

Tea with an Enemy

By Our Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa

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Scores of refugees, fleeing violence and oppression, crowd into sprawling, poor regions of the Middle East seeking to survive each day.

In one area, a wealthy believer had it on his heart to deliver food and supplies to the refugees encamped miles outside his city. He needed help, so he contacted Anwar (not his real name), who is now a Navigator leader.

Anwar was hesitant. The region was far away. He and his team had no experience with refugees, and he knew that terrorists often lived among them. Taking food and supplies could be extremely dangerous.

Anwar’s fears were heightened by his past experiences. One of his friends, a 50-year-old widower in his ministry, had been killed because of his faith in Christ, leaving his children orphaned. Anwar has been taking care of the children ever since they lost their father. As a result, Anwar sometimes receives death threats.

Despite the risks, Anwar spoke to his team about taking the food and supplies into the refugee areas. They prayed and read the Scriptures, seeking God’s guidance. God led them to Leviticus 19:33-34, which says, “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”

“God hit me with that verse,” said Anwar. “We knew that we had to serve these people.”

Anwar and his team started visiting the refugees twice a week, delivering water and food. Fearful, Anwar at first told the team not to talk about Jesus. But they gradually felt more comfortable and decided to pray with people in their makeshift homes.

In one of these homes they met a man who was known to have been a former terrorist leader. His face was weathered. His eyes expressed his soul’s heaviness, the guilt of serving dark causes. The conversation was superficial and brief, but Anwar told the man that he was a Christian. He even gave the man his phone number.

About four days later, Anwar received a phone call from the former terrorist. He pleaded for Anwar and his team to return to his home because he had had a vision about God and wanted to know more. “Honestly, I was very afraid,” said Anwar about that phone call. “I was worried that he was inviting us into a trap.”

Anwar told his team about the phone call and asked for counsel. What should they do? After much prayer, they decided to accept the man’s invitation. Trembling with fear, Anwar and the team headed back into the refugee area and approached the man’s door. He greeted them warmly and they entered the house. As the man served tea, Anwar watched every move suspiciously, praying for God’s protection.

“He started to tell us about the dream,” said Anwar. “It was about God. God was pressing him and convicting him of his sin, calling him to seek forgiveness for all he had done. He told us in tears that he had killed many people. And he looked me in the eye and asked, ‘Can Jesus forgive me?’”

Anwar and the team shared scripture with the man, assuring him that Jesus had paid for his sin on the cross, and that if he gave his life to Jesus he would be forgiven. That very day, the once-hardened and violent terrorist accepted Jesus as his Lord.

“Today that man can’t stop talking about Jesus to everyone around him,” Anwar said. “He’s having a major influence among the other refugees.”

Please pray for Anwar and other Navigators in the Middle East as they boldly take the Gospel message of Jesus and His kingdom to the hard-to-reach places.

What Is "Life-to-Life" Discipleship?

By David Lyons

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Navigators are known for what we call “life-to-life” discipleship. This personal approach to helping people grow in Christ is not a program; rather, it involves long-term friendship—going through all of life together while keeping Jesus in the center. Even when tragedy strikes.

In Nigeria, a small group of Navigators had to withstand a wave of sudden family deaths. As Navigator leaders Jeremiah and Jenine discipled their close friends, Achi and Imara, Jenine’s mother died in a car crash. (The names in this story have been changed.)

Then, a week later, Achi’s father died.

A few months after that, Imara’s parents died in a car accident.

In the midst of this turmoil—as everyone struggled to understand, and as they mourned—Jeremiah and Jenine were able to bring comfort to Imara and Achi. They experienced what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

“My wife, having been through what she had been through [with the loss of her own mother], meant that there wasn’t a better person to comfort Imara,” Jeremiah says. “When Imara comes to the house, they talk, cry together and read scripture together. Because Jenine went through her mother’s death, she could help Imara go through her own pain. When Jenine says she understands what Imara is going through, she really does.”

In the same way, Jeremiah’s experience of losing his mother-in-law enabled him to comfort Achi when his dad died.

“Somehow, I was able to offer him comfort,” says Jeremiah. “It’s a tough, tough thing to do. . . . How we respond to what we go through informs how we can help people going through something similar.”

This is how Jeremiah sees discipleship. “It’s a relationship, but it’s also that I’m interested in you, not just interested in us having Bible studies. It’s you. And in the context of life, let’s seek Christ together.”

That is a great summary of life-to-life discipleship. It might not involve helping people through mourning and death, but it is always personal and transparent. I remember how my first mentor responded when I confessed my deepest sins to him. Despite my failures, he believed in me. He said, “David, God’s hand is on your life, and He has great things in mind for you.”

That touched me deeply. It taught me that influence happens when we love those we mentor. This may be Jesus’ most powerful leadership rule: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34).

Life-to-life leader development is tailored to the specific needs of each person. It’s not a one-size-fits-all program. Disciple-makers understand the Scriptures and know how to help people move toward Christlikeness, but they are part of the story. They lead without being an overlord. They teach without being academic. They share their lives, not just their knowledge.

Matt, who is mentoring me now, tells me to crawl inside the skin of my friends, to get to know what they need. Other mentors say to me, “It’s not what you prepared that matters. It’s what they need when you are there.” Proverbs 20:5 says, “The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.”

Life-to-life leader development takes time. It’s costly. It’s not an efficient program. Sometimes it is hard to measure. But it’s powerful. It’s the way Jesus developed people.

My mentors chose to make a hand-crafted investment in me, and they’ve stuck with me despite my failures and flaws. I’m forever grateful. I want to pass that on. Don’t you?
 
David Lyons is an International Vice President of The Navigators. He serves our 5,000 staff in 115 countries by coaching leaders and leading change. David is author of Don’t Waste the Pain.

New Translated Videos

By IET Communications

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To advance the Gospel in 115 nations, Navigators serve God in many different contexts and languages. Yet we are unified around our Calling, Values and Vision, which express the scriptural heart and soul of our Worldwide Partnership—who we are, what we do, what we hope God will do through us. (You can read these statements at this link.)

Several years ago, the International Executive Team produced three short animated videos in English that convey our Calling, Values and Vision. The IET is now excited to announce the release of these videos in Spanish, Arabic, French and Indonesian. We hope that these translations will serve a wider spectrum of Navigators in the countries where we serve.

The original English versions are narrated by former International President Mike Treneer. Titled the “Drawing Out” series, they were produced using timelapse videography and a talented artist who depicts Treneer’s narration with colorful drawings.

“These are popular videos,” says International Vice President David Lyons. “They do a great job of explaining who we are as Navigators. Plus, they are really fun to watch!”

The videos can be streamed online or downloaded from our international video library at this link.

Each region and country in our Worldwide Partnership plays an important role in advancing the Gospel. David Lyons says that these videos will help Navigators around the world share who we are and what we do, strengthen teams, improve communication efforts, and raise funding.

“We hope these translations honor and grow the diversity and unity of who we are as a Worldwide Partnership,” Lyons says.