October 2016

Recognizing Idolatry

By Mike Shamy

Nepal Idolatry.png

In April, the International Executive Team met with our Asian leaders in Nepal. It had been a year since a catastrophic earthquake devastated much of the nation, including Kathmandu’s historic Durbar Square (shown in the photo).

Standing among the ruins, I saw a small building that, apart from a few cracks, somehow survived the earthquake. I found out that the building is the home of Nepal’s Living Child Goddess.

The current goddess is 9-years old. She was chosen when she was even younger. Her life is isolated and secretive. She makes rare public appearances. Before Nepal’s monarchy was abolished in 2008, kings would seek her blessing. Now the president comes yearly to bow before her and seek her favor.

Standing in the small courtyard looking up at her second-story living room, I felt a deep sadness—a sadness for her and all those who look to her for happiness and meaning in life.

This is an obvious form of idolatry. But what about the less obvious idols in our lives? Every day these subtle idols seek to shape our actions and choices. Unless we recognize and resist them, we will not live distinctively or reveal God to the nations.

Navigators are deeply committed to seeing spiritual generations of laborers who live and disciple among those without Christ. The word “among” reminds us that laborers are to be fully present and relationally connected within our cultures. As our vision statement says, we seek to be “workers for the Kingdom next door to everywhere.”

Laborers are not only to live among the lost; they are also called to be holy (distinct). From the earliest days, God’s people were commanded to have no other gods. We are to follow and obey the true God alone. We are called to live distinctively in every aspect of social, personal, and public life. Our values, choices, and actions should reflect the character and commandments of God. Jesus used metaphors of salt and light to describe this calling.

“Among” and yet “distinct”: both callings have always been crucial for God’s people as we seek to reach the nations. This means it is vital for laborers living among those without Christ to recognize and resist idolatry (1 John 5:19-21).

Author and pastor Tim Keller, in his book Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex and Power and the Only Hope that Matters, writes: “An idol is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give. . . . An idol is whatever you look at and say in your heart of hearts, ‘If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll have value.’ When anything in life is an absolute requirement for your happiness and self-worth, it is essentially an idol, something you are actually worshiping.”

Marriage is good, work is good, family is good, love of country is good, and health is good. But if any of these become supreme in our lives, then for us they have become idols. We become enslaved to them and our distinctiveness as Christ followers is dissolved.

How might we know this is happening in our lives? I find the following questions helpful in recognizing idols in my own life.

  • When I am alone, what do I find myself thinking about?
  • How do I spend money? Matthew 6:21 says that money flows toward what we love.
  • What about my emotions? Anger or depression might indicate I have an idol when my longings are unfulfilled. The anxieties I experience when something important in my life is being threatened might point to idolatry.
  • Am I overworking and driven? If so, what am I striving to attain through my work?
  • Whose approval am I seeking? Is it anyone other than God?

As we seek to live holy and distinct lives “next door to everywhere,” the Scriptures call us to worship God alone. "Be careful not to forget the covenant of the LORD your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the LORD your God has forbidden" (Deuteronomy 4:23).    

Mike Shamy was born in New Zealand. Mike and his wife, Audrey, became Navigator staff in 1980. From 1989 to 1996 Mike led and coached ministries in New Zealand. In 1999 he led the U.S. Metro Mission. Mike joined the International Executive Team in 2004 and is co-author of The Insider.

My New Heroes

By David Lyons

Heroes.png

Who inspires you to follow Jesus? Who are your heroes?

I recently found some new heroes. Our team gathered a group of emerging Navigator leaders from around the world in Manila in order to help prepare them to lead well into the future. We dove into the Scriptures, into one another’s lives, and into experiencing the Navigator ministries in the most broken parts of Manila. It was a stretch for many of us, a stretch that felt good. 

One of my new heroes is Thelma (shown in photo). She leads Samaritana, a beautiful ministry among the thousands of prostitutes in Manila. Where do you go to meet prostitutes there? You go to the bars and clubs. Women who are not prostitutes can only get in if they come in with a man. So Thelma and her team recruit Navigator guys to escort them in and then leave them there so that they can develop relationships with the women. 

Remember how Jesus was a friend of sinners? Thelma and her fellow workers build trusting friendships with the prostitutes, inviting them into a new way of life. Many are now in Christ and experiencing the new life for which He created them! We met a former “sinner” who is now a trained social worker and leader in the ministry.
 
Another new hero of mine is Willy. At this time of year, Willy’s house regularly gets flooded with several feet of water. But he lives there because it’s close to those he serves. Our group gathered at Willy’s local church for an orientation to his ministry.  Then we walked to eight neighborhoods surrounding the church. These are the kinds of neighborhoods that you enter through a narrow alley as you step over trash and residents playing cards.

We split into eight small groups and walked into the neighborhoods with local ministry leaders who were born and raised there. In each case, more than half the people in each neighborhood are involved in the weekly Bible studies, prayer meetings and youth groups that Willy’s team has started. My guide was a young woman who is one of the first from her neighborhood to graduate from college. She was sponsored by others in the ministry. Even though she has a degree, she’s decided to stay in the neighborhood and teach in the local school.

The day before our visit, all of these neighborhoods had been flooded with one or two feet of water. Floods come and go. When the water rises, everyone just moves upstairs or out of the area until the water recedes. The Gospel is flooding these neighborhoods every day. Generations are following Christ together, and although it’s messy and there are often setbacks and challenges, this flood will never recede! 

Thelma and Willy are heroes helping the Gospel advance. They are living examples of those described in our vision: "What characterizes this movement? A heart for the whole person… climates of grace… compassion for the vulnerable and broken… sacrificial unity embracing diversity… cultural relevance with others in the wider body of God… transformed men and women, fragrant with the humility and aroma of Christ."  

David Lyons is an International Vice President of The Navigators. He serves our 5,000 staff in more than 115 countries by coaching leaders and leading change. David is author of Don’t Waste the Pain.

Navigators Beyond The Navigators

By Eddie Broussard

 Lausanne Young Leaders Gathering

Lausanne Young Leaders Gathering

Recently in Indonesia, I met a missionary from Burundi who recounted to me in tears the horrific experience of barely surviving a brutal attack that left thousands dead, including his pastor, who died at his feet.

Knowing I was a Navigator, my new friend mentioned that he had gained solid footing in his early walk with Christ because of Leroy Eims, a Navigator who taught the Scriptures on a daily radio broadcast that could be heard in Burundi. He told me that Leroy’s radio messages had equipped and inspired him to lead a Gospel movement among youth in Malawi.

Later, another young woman told me with a proud sparkle in her eye that her mother had been discipled by Navigators in the Philippines. As evidence of God’s generational faithfulness, this young woman now serves with an international missions organization.

I heard many stories like these at the Lausanne Movement’s Young Leaders Gathering in August in Indonesia. (Some participants shown in photo.) Being with about 1200 young leaders and experienced mentors from 160 nations gave me a rich opportunity to see how God is carrying His name onward through spiritual generations.

In just one day at the conference, I met a gentleman who maintains a connection with 500 major networks that cover every part of the world, a young Pakistani leader who teaches school outside of Islamabad, and a Jamaican leader who is engaged with the African diaspora. God is working powerfully through men and women from all nations!

The Navigator presence and participation in events like the Young Leaders Gathering is vital for our Worldwide Partnership. The magnitude of international interaction that Lausanne makes possible is one of the best opportunities in the world for Navigators to both influence the global Body of Christ and to be sharpened by some of the best thinkers and practitioners from just about every imaginable context of ministry.

Navigator leaders are influencing the Lausanne Movement (www.lausanne.org), literally from top to bottom. Jerry White, International President Emeritus of The Navigators, continues to bring substantial influence though his service on the Lausanne Board of Directors. Jerry also served as a mentor to young leaders. Jim Chew, a veteran international Navigator has been mentoring Michael Oh, Lausanne Executive Director/CEO, for the past decade. Our current International President, Mutua Mahiaini, spoke during a plenary session about the support structures leaders need for success. And Ole-Magnus Olafsrud, former country leader for the Navigator work in Norway, plays a primary role in Lausanne’s leadership mentoring efforts. Thirty-three Navigators from about 20 nations were present at the Young Leaders Gathering as mentors and mentees.

Among the most encouraging aspects of this conference, for me, was to see how God is raising a new generation of gifted leaders. Despite all the problems in the world, He is fulfilling His promises, as expressed in Revelation 5:9-10.

You purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.   

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.

New Leaders for Europe and NavMissions

By IET Communications

The Nav Europe Board of Directors has appointed Bill Sparks as the new Regional Director for Europe. Bill served as director of United States NavMissions since 2009. Bill’s involvement with The Navigators began in college, in Florida. He worked for IBM in the U.S. and Japan before he and his wife, Cathy, joined Navigator staff. He served with The Navigators in Taiwan, and then as Director of Staff Care, focusing primarily on helping Navigator staff in Europe. This and other involvement in Europe enabled Bill to develop strong relationships within the European Navigator work.

As of July 1, 2016, the new director of NavMissions is Don N (full name not provided for security reasons). Don became involved with The Navigators while a student at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, where he graduated in 1971. He and his wife, Lois, worked in campus ministries until 1981. Between 1982 and 1997, Don and Lois worked with Navigator efforts in five Eastern European countries. He has been working as a strategic leader in NavMissions since that time. NavMissions is engaged in recruiting, developing, preparing and sending American missionaries to serve in the Navigator Worldwide Partnership.

Please pray for Bill and Cathy, and Don and Lois as they begin new phases of life and work.