April 2018

Toss Your Do-List

By David Lyons

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True Confession: I used to write things on my do-list that I had already done . . . just so I could have the pleasure of crossing them off! So, when my wife sent a Forbes article to me that suggested that I toss my do-list, I laughed.

Later, in my quiet time, the Lord brought me back to that idea and improved it. The One Whose Yoke is Easy knew that my do-list had become a burden. As tasks piled up week by week, my anxiety increased. I was always behind. So, Jesus suggested that I convert my do-list to a prayer list.

My wife’s suggestion came at about the same time that my boss, Mutua Mahiaini, mentioned his sadness that so few Navigators seem to regularly spend a day alone with God. That practice has often reshaped my life, but his comment reminded me that I’d drifted from the habit amid increasing leadership responsibilities. Later that week, I pulled out my copy of How to Spend a Day in Prayer by Lorne Sanny. I once again began putting that day of prayer in my monthly schedule.

During my next day alone with God, I converted my do-list to a prayer list. Now, I begin each month with a day set aside for fellowship with God during which I pray for the month ahead. As I pray, the Lord shows me that He never intended for me to do some things on my list.

In other cases, I ask, “Is this something that you are leading me to work on this month?” If so, I schedule time for that in my calendar, not my do-list. Putting these work responsibilities on my calendar keeps me from thinking that “I’ll get to it someday” (James 1:22). I also leave some items on my prayer list. This frees me from the burden to act immediately. God can add them to my calendar in His time.

Now when I am asked to do something, I either put the task on my prayer list, or I fit it into my calendar around the work that God has already assigned to me. Then, each Sunday, I pray through the week ahead and adjust as God leads. And each morning I pray for the day ahead, adapting as God leads.

This approach is described in Proverbs 16:9, which says, “The mind of a man plans his way, but the Lord directs His steps.” I am also applying Philippians 4:6-7, which tells me to not worry about anything and instead pray about everything. Jesus never did anything on His own initiative, but only what the Father invited him to do (John 5:19-20; 12:49).

I experience so much more peace. I am also more productive, because I’m more focused. Yes, I’m praying more. But it’s not burdening me; it’s freeing me.

I’m also interceding more, but for a different reason. The Lord transformed my intercession with this thought: “I pray because I love.” Now I intercede because it’s the most powerful way that I can love God and people. In the past, I’ve felt weighed down by long prayer lists with many names. Now I’m very selective about what goes on my daily prayer list. I only add requests when God has told me to keep asking, to keep seeking and to keep knocking (Matthew 7:7).

Why don’t we pray more? Do we believe that our part is more important than God’s part? Why do we settle for (or struggle with) less than what God can and will do in answer to our prayers? Why not work from your prayer list rather than from your do-list?

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.

Gardening with Refugees

By Bill Sparks


Holland is famous for its spectacular fields of tulips, but in one town a Navigator mom is cultivating flowers (and relationships) with refugees from the Middle East.

Burdened about the plight of families who have fled from war-torn countries, Meredith (not her real name) and her husband decided to move into a multicultural neighborhood where they could develop relationships with families displaced by violence and oppression. Meredith and her husband knew that these families needed help to adjust to life in Holland, to feel welcomed, to find friendship.

God moved her heart when she read Matthew 25:35, which says, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in . . .”

“My husband and I asked, ‘Can we let people in who are strangers?’” Meredith said. “We realized at that point that we needed to be living among them in order to invite them in.”

After moving to the new neighborhood, Meredith’s first step was to sign up for a women’s Arabic class offered at a local mosque. The class wasn’t very organized, but after drinking lots of tea with the other women, she gradually gained rapport and friendships.

A natural connection developed between Meredith and a Muslim woman, who was a community organizer, in part because they were both pregnant. Meredith invested a lot of personal time in this friendship, and soon the woman was opening doors for her to meet more people in the immigrant community.

Cultural barriers gradually fell as Meredith listened to them, learned about their lives, and brought food to their social gatherings. They were all legal immigrants. Many were asylum seekers. Some were migrant workers who had settled in Holland decades earlier. But all of these families were from broken nations. They were all looking for a better life.

Meredith, an avid gardener, saw another opportunity to help the immigrants become more integrated into the neighborhood. She decided to start a community garden, blending her own hobby with an outreach effort. Her goal was, in part, to connect the entire neighborhood. She organized some community meetings, worked with local government officials to use a plot of land, and set up a coordinating team.

The garden has served as common ground (literally) for people to get to know each other, and for Dutch residents to get a better understanding of immigrant needs. For the Christians who team with Meredith, being involved with the immigrants has helped them learn how to relate well with Muslims.

From the relationships that blossomed in the garden, Meredith has many opportunities to share her faith in natural ways. In fact, at a multicultural high tea with about 60 Muslim women, Meredith was invited by a dear friend to speak about God’s grace.

“All of this is happening at the Spirit’s pace,” she says. “I’m now a respected outsider.”

Meredith’s heart for Middle East refugees and immigrants stems from birth. When she was two-months old, her family moved to Syria, where her father worked in agricultural education for the Dutch government. At age four, she moved with her family to Pakistan, living near the border with Afghanistan until she was nine.

Back in Holland, Meredith’s family opened their home as a refuge for Middle East immigrants. “Sundays, we always had people at our table,” Meredith said. “Yemenis, Iranians—I always had them with me as a kid. I was also a third-culture kid, which meant that I was like them. I didn’t know where I fit either.”

Today, Meredith says, “I am at home with God. Part of me is Pakistani and Arabic. Part of me is Dutch. But because I am home with God, I can feel at home everywhere.”

Bill Sparks has been serving as the Navigator Regional Director for Europe since 2016. Between 2009 and 2016 he was director of U.S. NavMissions. He and his wife, Cathy, previously served in Japan and Taiwan. Today they live in England and have two adult children.

Searching for an "Isaac" in the Army

By Alan Ch'ng


Developing new Navigator leaders often requires patience and perseverance. Just ask Rusty Bean, who faithfully led many military men to Christ for 20 years before he found a man who would also become a leader and disciple-maker.

Rusty, who directs the U.S. Navigator Army ministry, says that his long search for another disciple-maker was like Abraham’s long wait for God to give him his son, Isaac (Genesis 17:19).

For Rusty, it has been worth the wait, one that has taught him to trust God and His timing.

Rusty has discipled many soldiers over the years, at Fort Benning and Fort Bliss, among other places. These men have gone on to live godly and meaningful lives, making significant contributions to the kingdom through their work and families.

“I have had some good guys God used me to help, and they’re more like Jesus,” Rusty says. “They are good disciples, but for a long time I had been praying and hoping that God would call some of them to become disciple-makers who influenced others for Christ. For many years, I didn’t have the joy of seeing that.”

Then, while living in Illinois, Rusty met Allan, an Air Force ROTC student. As Rusty began discipling him, God uprooted and moved Rusty to the Navigator military ministry at Fort Benning, Georgia. Allan asked if he could come to Georgia with the Bean family and help with the ministry there. Enthusiastic about discipling other soldiers alongside Rusty, Allan quit his ROTC scholarship and transferred to Georgia.

After three years of work at Fort Benning, God led Rusty and his family to Fort Bliss, Texas. Again, Allan wanted to stick with Rusty, so together they moved to Fort Bliss. After a few years working together, Allan moved on to start his own Navigator work at Norfolk Naval Base.

“I think he’s my spiritual Isaac,” Rusty says. “For me to find Allan was almost 10 years, and then to train Allan and to send him out was another 10 years. It was 20 years from looking to sending. Now, Allan’s doing with others exactly what I did with him.”

Today, Allan is recruiting and training military men and women who live and work among non-believers. In the military, the Gospel flows through natural work and life relationships. So, Allan has been reaching out to sailors at the gym, food court, barbershop, or wherever he meets them. He also helps the key laborers identify ways to love and serve the non-believers around them. When they enter this authentic biblical community, they experience real love and care as well as accountability and challenge.

To see Allan catching the joy of discipling other men, and to see the Gospel advancing among non-believers through Allan’s influence has refreshed Rusty’s soul.

“The ironic thing is, when I found Allan, I was almost done [with discipleship],” he said, adding that God’s promise to Abraham helped him persevere. “The water was right up to my nose and I was not encouraged. So, God brought Allan at the right time when I was ready to quit. . . . What a privilege [discipling men] is! I’m hooked. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

Throughout the Army, Navigators are taking the Gospel to those who don’t know Him, discipling soldiers, and developing Navigator leaders. There are military men and women who follow Christ everywhere. Some go abroad, and some spread out around the U.S. They too will be looking for spiritual Isaacs.

Discipleship is the heartbeat of The Navigators. As Rusty says, “Our historical contribution to the kingdom of God has been making disciples and raising up leaders. . . . That’s what I want to see The Navigators continue to do well: raise up the next generation of leaders.”

Canadian Navigator Brendan Danielson provided the reporting for this article.

Alan Ch’ng is an International Vice President. Before joining the International Executive Team, Alan led our Asia-Pacific Region for more than six years. Alan and his wife, Connie, moved to Colorado Springs in April 2013. They have three grown sons.