October 2014

A Simple Faith

By Alan Ch'ng

Culture of Faith.png

In today’s world, believers can choose from many good programs, study plans, seminars, videos and counselors to help us walk with Jesus. But has our faith become hectic and complicated? As Solomon concluded, "This is all that I have learnt: God made us plain and simple, but we have made ourselves very complicated" (Ecclesiastes 7:29, GNB).

Recently a young man from Eurasia, who has only been a believer for a few years, reminded me to keep my faith simple. Jonathan (not his real name) came to Christ in a culture staunchly opposed to Christianity. His friends and family ridiculed and rejected him when they learned about his faith. Although he has almost no support network, he has experienced the complete sufficiency of Jesus. His faith has been tested, and it is simple.

Jonathan’s journey began when he met one of our Navigator missionaries from Asia, a bold man who has helped pioneer our work in Eurasia. He and Jonathan started meeting to discuss the Scriptures, and soon they formed a strong friendship. As he learned about the Gospel, Jonathan began to have dreams about Jesus, dreams so powerful that he couldn’t doubt the work of Christ in his heart. He learned to pray about all of his needs and saw God help him in tangible ways. He began to study the Bible twice a week with a small group of friends.

Several months ago, God opened the door for Jonathan to spend three months in the U.S. in a professional studies program. All of a sudden, he found that God had pulled him out of his unreached nation and thrust him into the heart of Christian America. He encountered big and small churches representing every denomination under the sun. He browsed through Christian book stores and heard Christian radio stations. The plethora of diverse options was overwhelming, and rather confusing. He wanted to understand what all of this should mean to his own faith in Christ, especially upon his return home.

Through a mutual friend, I gained the privilege of meeting Jonathan and listening. his questions. As he shared his confusion about everything from church denominations to different views of baptism, I could see his longing to simplify everything. He wanted to find the essence of what it means to follow Jesus. Then Jonathan paused and enthusiastically said something beautiful: “It’s about Jesus!”

Simple, refreshing, profound, insightful! Only the Holy Spirit could have revealed it so clearly to him. We talked into the night about many other issues: family, relationships, persecution, sharing Jesus with others, praying for our loved ones, our identity. But Jonathan reminded me that the Christian life should be simple. Jesus is sufficient.

Mark introduces his book to us this way: "The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God" (Mark 1:1). He proceeds to give us 16 chapters of good news about Jesus. The apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthians says, "For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2). In the second letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes: "But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:2-3).

Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Jesus mixed with nothing else. May our lives and our message be about Jesus. May we keep our devotion to our Lord simple and pure.

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.

A West African Journey

By Mike Treneer

In July, I had the privilege of being with Navigators who extend the kingdom of God in French speaking West Africa. Serving Christ in contexts of poverty and militant Islam, these men and women gathered for five days in Abidjan to think and pray, and to support one another in their common mission of seeing the Gospel advance. I was humbled by the dedication and sacrifice of my brothers and sisters who are laboring so faithfully and fruitfully in such challenging circumstances.

During our time together, I had the joy of reuniting with a pioneering Navigator couple I’ve known for many years. I first met Theo (not his real name) in 1974, when he was a university student. After he graduated, he went through a very difficult year. I decided to visit him, so as to encourage him and strengthen him in his faith. It was a difficult trip. The journey was long and I was robbed by thieves on the way. Not only that, a stomach bug made me quite sick. I arrived at Theo’s door needing more help from him than I was able to provide! After a couple of days, I left and wondered if my trip had been worthwhile.

Later, I was amazed to find out that my visit had been very significant for Theo. He told me what he had been thinking about our time together during that trip: “If Mike takes my spiritual growth so significantly that he would come all this way, I had better start taking it more seriously myself.”

Years later, Theo told me that he had mailed me a letter that asked me not to come see him. I never received it. Providence? I believe it was.

After that tumultuous visit, Theo moved back to his home state to start his career as an architect. I continued to visit him there, too, supporting him as he began to share the Gospel with those around him. On one bus journey to see Theo, I found myself surrounded by a poor refugee family. A severe drought had forced many at that time to become refugees. We were packed together like sardines for several hours on the bus. I did not know the family’s language and my French was inadequate for meaningful conversation. There was little I could do except pray for them. I remember praying that God would use the Navigator ministry in Theo’s country to send missionaries to other nations in the region.

I saw a wonderful answer to that prayer in 1998, when Theo and his wife moved to a another country in the region to begin a new Navigator work. Now, at the meeting in July, I was able to meet for the first time some of the people Theo and his wife have discipled over the years. One of those couples is taking over the leadership of the work in that country. This will enable Theo and his wife to expand their influence into other Francophone countries.

All this reminded me of the Apostle Paul’s comments about Titus, in 2 Corinthians 8:16-17. "I thank God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you. For Titus not only welcomed our appeal, but he is coming to you with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative." What joy this must have been for Paul!

Please pray for Theo, his wife, and the new country leaders. Pray also for Navigators throughout West Africa, that they might experience the Lord’s protection and strength. Ask God to give them many new generations of men and women like Theo and his wife, and like Titus in the New Testament, so that the Gospel can transform more and more people.

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.

Life-to-Life Church Discipleship

By Mutua Mahiaini

Estonia Bible.jpg

Many people around the world go to church religiously without accepting Christ as Lord or without knowing how to follow Him in every area of life. Church leaders often struggle to build a culture of biblical, life-on-life discipleship within their churches. All this makes the challenge of reaching the lost in the community even more difficult.

Seeing these needs, Navigators are effectively equipping church leaders to disciple men and women in their churches. Many pastors appreciate this strong partnership with The Navigators, which has resulted in many coming to Christ, as well as more laborers who are better equipped to serve in local church ministries.

In May, Navigator leaders who work in local church contexts gathered in Colorado Springs. They came from Korea, Norway, Madagascar, Indonesia, England, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tonga, the Philippines, the United States, and Singapore. I heard beautiful stories of how God is expanding his kingdom within the context of church communities.

Two examples of our international church discipleship ministries can be found in England and Kenya.

For the past five years, British Navigator Martin Cooper has been mentoring a pastor in southern England. This pastor, John, came to Christ through a Navigator student ministry in the early 1980s. At that time, Martin helped John grow in his faith. After John graduated, he married, raised three sons, and worked as a businessman for 20 years. He also served as a lay leader in a thriving church during those years. Because of his service, gifting, and character, the church leaders invited him to become the lead pastor.

However, John realized that he needed a personal mentor. John didn’t only want to preach and teach; he had a strong desire to build a disciple-making congregation. So he asked Martin to provide support and guidance.

John faced a challenge: The vision for life-on-life discipleship had not been a prominent element in the church’s culture. With Martin’s ongoing help, John began working to instill a biblically grounded, personal, and generational vision for discipleship within his church.

Today, John continues to foster this vision, which is central to the Navigator calling. He trains them to carry the Gospel into their own relational networks. The results are encouraging! Many are growing in Christ and beginning to disciple others in their own circles of influence.

This is also happening in Kenya. Navigator leader Stan Mukolwe has worked with a young pastor named Billy at a Baptist church in a low-income neighborhood of Nairobi. Billy was eager to see more personal discipleship happening in his church, so he asked Stan to start meeting one-on-one with church members. Stan, however, felt it would be more fruitful to train Billy to do that work himself.

Over the next few years, Stan equipped Billy to disciple others, and to help them learn how to disciple their own friends. Billy worked with a first-year college student named Elijah. Over time, Elijah became firmly grounded in the Scriptures and learned to follow Christ in all areas of life. Elijah developed a godly passion for people and the Gospel. While attending his university, he led many friends to Christ and helped them grow.

Stan’s personal investment continues to multiply. Today Billy is a Navigator staff member in Kenya, and serves many people. Elijah is now part of a Navigator staff training program. Both have many more years of fruitful discipleship ministry ahead of them.

At about the same time that Stan started working with Billy, he also trained a lay leader named Geoffrey at the All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi. Geoffrey began applying what he learned from Stan within the context of his church and began working one-on-one with leaders.

Geoffrey’s effort is multiplying within the church and beyond. People at the All Saints church are doing outreach and discipleship at the Kenya Polytechnic University. Geoffrey is now the Church Discipleship Ministries leader for The Navigators in Kenya. At the time of this writing, he had just returned from an arduous journey through the Democratic Republic of Congo where he taught about Jesus to many non-believers and helped them learn how to share the Gospel with others.

In these beautiful stories, we see God working to help churches around the world capture the power of life-on-life discipleship. Navigators like Martin Cooper and Stan Mukolwe play a crucial role in developing kingdom laborers who can multiply the Gospel across the generations.

Mutua Mahiaini is an International Vice President of The Navigators. Mutua and his wife, Stephanie, led our work in Kenya, then in Côte d’Ivoire, and then as Regional Director for Africa for 13 years. Mutua and Stephanie now live in Colorado Springs. They have four adult children.

Missions Prayer Focus: Eurasia

By IET Communications

Navigator staff and laborers in Eurasia faithfully live out the Gospel in very challenging contexts. Eurasia comprises 12 countries. We have resident workers in seven of these countries. They minister in at least ten languages. Men and women are coming to faith and experiencing God’s transformation. Teams of national laborers are providing increasing leadership in several countries.

Over the next three months, please pray daily for the following initiatives outlined by the Regional Director.

1. Fruitfulness in advancing the Gospel among family and relational networks: Natural relational networks are crucial for the advance of the Gospel in our context. Pray for courage to openly identify with Jesus as we visibly and verbally share the Good News (1 Corinthians 9:19-23; Ephesians 6:19-20).

2. Developing a strategy: Pray for the leadership teams in each country as they evaluate the next steps in advancing the Gospel. Pray for God’s wisdom, perspective, and direction as they plan for the future (Proverbs 16:1, 3 and James 1:5).

3. Regional gathering: In January, key laborers and leaders (and their families) from across the region will gather. This time together will provide them with an opportunity to learn from one another, deepen their walks with Christ, and sustain a sense of belonging to each other and to our common calling. Pray that God would help this important gathering to be fruitful and encouraging (Ephesians 3:14-20).