April 2015

Introducing Our New International President

By Mike Treneer

L to R: Jerry White, Mutua Mahiaini, Mike Treneer

L to R: Jerry White, Mutua Mahiaini, Mike Treneer

It is my privilege to introduce to you my friend and colleague Mutua Mahiaini as, on April 19, he becomes the fifth International President and General Director of our Navigator Worldwide Partnership.

I first met Mutua on a trip from Nigeria to Kenya in 1979. I remember talking with him about the Scriptures during a meal at a Navigator training camp on the shores of Lake Naivasha in the Great Rift Valley. At that time, Mutua was one of the young emerging leaders in the Kenya Navigator ministry. The country leader at the time, missionary Bruce van Wyk, was understandably encouraged by God’s work in Mutua.

By the time Chris and I moved to Nairobi to start leading the Africa Navigator work, Mutua had married Stephanie. They were ministering at Kenyatta University on the outskirts of Nairobi. As we got to know them over the next few years, we were drawn to their infectious faith and genuine care for people. We sensed God’s hand on Mutua’s life and leadership. When Bruce returned to the U.S. in 1986, it was not a surprise to see the Kenya Navigators choose Mutua as their new National Director.

During the next 12 years, Chris and I had the privilege of working more closely with Mutua and Stephanie, first as they led the Kenya Navigators and then when they moved to Côte d’Ivoire to help pioneer the Navigator ministries throughout French-speaking Africa.

While they led the Kenya work, they lived within walking distance of us. Their four children became extended family members of the Treneer household, forming strong bonds of love with our children. Stephanie’s warmth and spontaneity blessed us (and continues to do so). We also got to know their parents. Mutua’s father, a respected evangelical bishop, met the first Navigator missionaries in Kenya in the 1950s.

The Navigator work in Kenya flourished under Mutua’s leadership, as did the work in Côte d’Ivoire. Mutua demonstrated a wonderful ability to build and lead teams. He developed strong leaders in both countries, and became a trusted and respected member of the Africa Regional Team. He traveled extensively, particularly into the French-speaking countries, where his fluency in French, his cultural sensitivity, and relational adaptability won him not only influence and respect but affection.

So when God led Chris and me to leave Africa and join the International Executive Team, in June of 1998, the rapidly growing Navigator work in Africa chose Mutua as their next Regional Director. Facing many obstacles, he led the Africa Navigators through 13 years of growth and fruitfulness. They built a strong team and saw the Africa region become an influential partner and contributor to our Navigator work around the world.

With confidence in the team Mutua had built, I was able in 2011 to ask Mutua and Stephanie to move to Colorado Springs to join the International Executive Team. Over the last three years it has once again been a joy to see the way they have built trust and growing influence across our Worldwide Partnership. This was evident as a Selection Council of 42 Navigator leaders from every region of our work identified Mutua as God’s choice to lead us into the years ahead.

I commend Mutua and Stephanie and their family to your prayers and support as, in dependence on the Lord, they face all that Mutua’s new leadership role will demand.    

Mike Treneer is International President of The Navigators. He and his wife, 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.

An Interview with Mutua Mahiaini

By IET Communications

Mutua Mahiaini

Mutua Mahiaini

The son of a pastor, Mutua Mahiaini was born and raised in Kenya by parents for whom God was real and active in all situations. But it wasn’t until he was 10-years old that he answered the call to make Jesus his Lord.

Mutua says this about that day: “It was very clear to me that I had entered into a relationship that gave me rights that I did not enjoy before. . . . Something happened inside me. It was an assurance of being loved by God, and that I belonged.”

From that time on, Mutua has grown in the adventure of knowing Christ more and more through all of life’s hardships and challenges. In this interview with Worldwide, Mutua shares why he believes it is crucial for believers to constantly grow in our relationships with Jesus.

Worldwide: How do you think your international work, as well as your Kenyan upbringing, have affected your understanding of God?

Mutua: I have, especially since we moved to the Ivory Coast as missionaries (in 1994), reflected a great deal on what we should share about Christ—regardless of our socio-economic status, regardless of our race and our culture. What is the bottom line that we should share? . . . There is the story of John the Baptist, when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him, “Who are you?” John replied by telling them who he was not. So they asked him if he was Elijah or the Prophet. Their questions show that they could only understand people in terms of a name; they needed to put people in categories. There was no category that John could give them. So he told them that he was the voice of one crying out in the wilderness (see John 1:19-26). This shows us that we all have to make a choice: Are we going to have a name, or be a voice?. . . The message in that passage is, for me, that I will never really have a voice that has spiritual authority, I will never be a voice, unless I give up my quest to have a name among men.

Worldwide: Isn’t it true, however, that your Kenyan culture is a major part of your identity, your name?

Mutua: My “Kenyanness” is a blessing that helps me to be able to identify with many people. I grew up with people whose lives were very, very basic. Many times on dark nights people would ask my dad to drive pregnant women to the hospital. Sometimes a woman would have the baby in my father’s car. And sometimes the car would get stuck in the mud on the way to the hospital. I grew up seeing that people’s lives are pretty fragile. This has helped me to understand people. But, going back to the idea of having a name or a voice, we who are in Christ know that we have a name given to us by God and that it trumps any name or any identity that the world can offer. That is really the identity with which we should go to people who are in the “wilderness.” I don’t go to people as a Kenyan. I go to them in the identity that God has given me. Doing this allows us to have a voice that has God’s authority. Without that, we speak and it is hollow. There is no spiritual power behind it.

Worldwide: Is there a passage of scripture that has meant a lot to you in your life?

Mutua: Yes, one of them is Isaiah 30:23-24. It says, "He will also send you rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the food that comes from the land will be rich and plentiful. In that day your cattle will graze in the broad meadows. The oxen and donkeys that work the soil will eat fodder and mash, spread out with fork and shovel." This to me is about God’s promises. He promises to send rain. So by faith we sow the seed in expectation that God will send the rain. . . . This is about the blessing of God in our lives and the extension of our impact. . . . There have been so many times in ministry when I was investing in people and I thought, “Is that the best you can do?” There are accusing voices that can discourage us. But many times God says, “Just sow the seed. I will do the watering.” . . . God is at work, so we are not to be preoccupied with the constant measurement of our impact.

Worldwide: In what ways can we encourage one another to continue growing in our relationships with Jesus, throughout our lives?

Mutua: Part of the answer has to do with the message that we bring to people. The basics are so crucial: We have to be reading the Bible and to be praying. But these things in themselves are not what we preach. Our core message is not “have a quiet time.” And yet we cannot do without a quiet time. So we can’t confuse the means of growing in Christ with the center of our message. In 1 Corinthians 2:2, Paul says, "For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." That idea of us presenting Jesus as the Alpha and the Omega is such a compelling thing—to communicate Him according to His fullness. . . . We know that the god of this age has blinded many people. So it’s not like every time we talk about Christ people are going to respond. But it would be disappointing if we conveyed Christ in a way that makes Him less than He is. This is why we each must know Jesus so deeply, so that we can minister out of the overflow of who He is to us and what we know of Him. There is something about a deep walk with God that is so compelling that people want to come to Him.    

A Leader Prepared by God for Our Times

By D.G. Elmore, Chairman of the U.S. Board of Directors

God gives us a promise in Psalm 32:8, which says, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you."

As we entered the Selection Council meetings on February 9, we called on God to instruct us and advise us, and we relied on His Word to light our path. After two days of prayer, reflection on the Scriptures, and discussion among 42 leaders from around the world, we clearly understood that God had selected Mutua Mahiaini as the next International President of The Navigators. 

On February 12, the U.S. Board of Directors whole-heartedly ratified the decision of the Selection Council. During the Board’s deliberations, we considered the needs of the organization now and into the future, and the qualifications necessary to lead the Navigator Worldwide Partnership. 

Mutua’s life is rooted in Jesus and the Word of God. He leads from the Scriptures and in the Spirit. He has proven that he is not afraid to make hard choices, which is a necessary quality of any leader who thinks strategically and has a vision for the future.

Our work around the world needs an International President who is comfortable relating with people in diverse cultures. God has orchestrated life experiences for Mutua so that he is at home in rural villages and in corporate executive suites. 

In addition, we need an International President who is familiar with the large and diverse work of the U.S. Navigators. We need a person who has relational capital with the leaders in the U.S. Not only has Mutua worked closely with the U.S. leadership team, but he and Doug Nuenke (U.S. President) have a close friendship. This will prove to help both men as they serve the Lord and our Navigator Calling.

For more than 25 years, the Worldwide Partnership of The Navigators has been led by a team—the International Executive Team. During the selection process, God made it clear that we need a leader with great team building and team development skills. Mutua is a gifted team builder, who has been developing teams since he was in his 20s. Leaders from around the world who know Mutua best say that “he unleashes the potential of team members,” and that “he creates a structure so that people can thrive.”

As we look to the future and the fulfillment of our Navigator Vision, we will need a leader who has a heart for “the least of these,” a passion for the lost, and the determination to take the Gospel and His Kingdom to the hard places. Mutua is a leader prepared by God for a time such as this, a man whose eyes are fixed on Jesus.

D.G. Elmore, a businessman, has been a member of the U.S. Board of Directors for the past 16 years and has served as Chairman of the U.S. Board of Directors for the past four years. He and his wife, Gini, live in Indiana.

Overcoming Our Common Fears

By IET Communications

Mutua and Stephani Mahiaini

Mutua and Stephani Mahiaini

Called to leadership in missions, Stephanie Mahiaini and her husband, Mutua, have served people all over Africa and around the world. In 2012, they moved from Kenya to Colorado Springs to serve with the International Executive Team. That move to the U.S., Stephanie says, stirred up some fear within her heart—for many good reasons.

First, uprooting one’s life and adapting to a new culture is very difficult. Second, this new role would call her to serve people in an even broader array of cultures. In addition, she lives far from her four children who are scattered between Kenya, the U.S., and Canada. And she’s far from her mother, Mutua’s parents, and a close-knit extended family.

In the midst of these concerns, she has relied on Psalm 32:7-9 for strength and courage.

"You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you."

“Reading this, it’s like God assuaging my fears,” says Stephanie. “He is my hiding place. I can hide in Him when I am afraid. . . . When I have to stand before people to speak, God is saying ‘I will give you what to say. I will lead you. I will teach you. I will guide you.’ . . . This is, for me, an exhortation to relax in the Lord’s leading, to let the Lord guide.”

We can all learn from Stephanie: “relax in the Lord’s leading” and “let the Lord guide.”