By Mike Treneer
The psalmist said, "How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!" That is what we experienced during the recent International Forum in Kenya, during which more than 200 men and women in our international leadership community came from 50 countries. Together we fostered stronger connections, gained greater alignment with our vision, and addressed crucial issues related to the future of our Worldwide Partnership.
The importance of this remarkable bond among our leaders cannot be understated. If we had struggled with division in our midst, our efforts would have been stalled. God’s guidance among us would have been stymied. Thankfully, our international leadership community was able to collaborate fully in our effort to advance the Gospel among the lost. I believe that the positive impacts of the conference will ripple onward for many years to come.
After reflecting on the forum, I believe there are four primary ways that it impacted our international leaders.
Focus on God's Promises
First, God gave us rich times together in the book of Isaiah. As we refocused on God’s promises in Isaiah, God captured our hearts. Knowing the promises of God and knowing that He will fulfill His purposes renewed our energy and passion. This focus on God’s promises encouraged us as leaders to continue leading from the Scriptures. As we trust God and act upon His promises, our ministries around the world will flourish more and more.
Remembering What God Has Done
Second, the conference helped our leaders realize just how much God has done over the decades through The Navigators. Here were people from many tribes, languages, and nations gathered together, being one in the Spirit. The Forum was a living expression of the way God has expanded His kingdom through us into so many different parts of the world. This was encouraging because we know that such expansion and unity could not have happened by human effort alone! It became clear to everyone that God has been answering our prayers—ever since Dawson Trotman launched The Navigators so many years ago.
Part of the Big Story
Others expressed the joy and encouragement of knowing that they are part of a bigger story. Many of our leaders, especially in closed countries, have little opportunity to interact with others in our movement. We were encouraged to hear firsthand accounts of what God is doing in different parts of the world.
For example, we heard how God is using Christian school teachers to reach people in rural parts of Africa. We heard about amazing fruitfulness in the Middle East. We learned what God is doing among the poor through nearly 70 Navigator communities in the Philippines. Many of these stories were shared not just in the plenary sessions, but also in private conversations, in small groups, and over meals. In short, the Forum provided an opportunity for everyone to see that they are part of a larger body—and the unfolding plan of God to reach the nations. This sense of belonging is crucial for our Navigator leaders.
Finally, the Forum played a major role in helping us develop ministry strategies. These strategies are important because they become the practical outworking of our Calling, Values, and Vision. Our leaders made great strides on the crucial issues that we must address in order to carry the Gospel further into the nations.
For example, one group worked on ideas for reaching the millions of illiterate people in the world. Another group studied ways to serve the poor and oppressed. Still another group focused attention on ways to support and grow microenterprises as a means for beginning and sustaining Gospel movements in closed nations. We also addressed our need for improved international communications, administrative services, and ministry materials. In short, our leaders planned ways to collaborate more, showing a strong desire to serve one another in love.
Space does not permit me to recount all the ways God used the forum to strengthen our Worldwide Partnership. Certainly God touched the hearts of every participant in unique and personal ways. The success of the Forum is yet another milestone in our movement and evidence that we can put our full trust in Christ as we look to the future.
Mike Treneer is International President of The Navigators. Mike and Chris lived in Kenya for 16 years where Mike helped develop our Africa ministries and became our Africa Director. Mike served on the International Executive Team and led our Europe work before becoming President in 2005.