October 2018

Perseverance and Joy

By David Lyons

Commemorating the 100th Issue of Worldwide Newsletter

Worldwide Cover October 2018.jpg

To celebrate the 100th issue of Worldwide, we are republishing three inspiring articles by three admirable men—Jerry White, Mike Treneer, and Mutua Mahiaini. Jerry and Mike are former International Presidents of The Navigators. Mutua has been serving in that role since 2015.

First published in Worldwide between 1992 and 2014, all three articles explore how we can live joyfully with God through hardships and trials. Such a theme might not seem too celebratory, but there is a good reason for this choice. Our ministry is rooted in God’s promises and, as the writer of Hebrews said, we need to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what God has promised to us as Navigators (Hebrews 6:12).

For the past 25 years, this newsletter has provided a real-world view of how Navigators are serving God to advance the Gospel among the nations. Worldwide’s writers and editors have avoided hype and public relations spin. In fact, the newsletter archive ( which you can search on this site) is filled with stories about how God is empowering us to joyfully persevere in the face extreme opposition.

The articles in this issue by Jerry, Mike and Mutua capture the essence of God’s faithful presence with us.

The first article, titled “The Road to Joy,” was written by Jerry in 1992 for the fifth issue of Worldwide. Jerry authentically explores his struggle to experience God’s joy (not mere happiness) even amid painful experiences. He wrote the article not long after he and his wife, Mary, had lost of their son, Steve, who was murdered.

Mike Treneer, who served as International President of The Navigators from 2005 to 2015, first published his article “Don’t Lose Heart” in September 2000 (issue 36). Mike’s article presents what the Scriptures reveal about experiencing joy during times of suffering. At that time, he wrote from his experience of believing God’s promises while leading our work throughout Africa. He concludes that, “Our confident expectation of our resurrection with Jesus transforms our attitudes toward life’s trials and troubles.”

Last, but not least, is an article by Mutua titled “Communities of Grace,” which was first published in the January 2014 issue of Worldwide (issue 81). Mutua shows us the vital need for strong, loving, committed communities. A community of grace, he says, is essential not only for spiritual growth, but for our ability to persevere victoriously through life’s trials. It is more and more evident that every Navigator needs such a community to live as an authentic disciple in increasingly hostile environments.

Jesus made it clear that His work in the world would require us to “take up the cross,” to die to the self. For some Navigators, this means risking their lives daily. Some Navigators have been killed. Some are called to leave their families to serve as cross-cultural missionaries. Others travel thousands of miles to provide ongoing, supportive leadership for those pioneers. Many others dedicate their administrative talents to sustain our work. Thousands of people give generously to support our efforts. All of us are called to persevere in our calling within the complexities of our families and relational networks.

Collectively, all this taking up of the cross has resulted in a remarkable Worldwide Partnership that God has expanded into 115 nations. This special edition of Worldwide is, therefore, a reminder of God’s faithfulness to the Navigator work during the past eight decades. He is the One who has carried us this far and He is the One who will lead us forward.

The Road to Joy

By Jerry White

First published April 1992

Photo courtesy of Ryan Wallace

Photo courtesy of Ryan Wallace

What is joy? Where can you find it? Is it hope deferred, like enjoyment of eternal life after enduring pain and sorrow here on earth? Is it the emotional highs we experience in our walk with Christ? Search with me for that joy that some so blithely promise to prospective believers in Christ.

I have wrestled with this paradox for some time and am still wrestling with it. So I cannot present here any finished solution or set of rules, or even sound logic. Joy is too elusive for that. Would be comforters (ask Job!) give us short, simple and sure answers. But real life doesn’t fit their prescriptions. In difficult or troubling experiences, we desperately need God’s joy.

Here are some of my current discoveries about joy. Joy begins with God’s promise. “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (John 15:11). God promises joy. Christ provides it. I must trust that He has not lied to me or introduced a false hope.

Life is punctuated with experiences wherein I taste the gain or loss of happiness. But happiness is not joy. Even God-given happiness is not joy. It is the foretaste, the appetizer. “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).

God-planted joy looks beyond the emotional highs of temporal happiness. In fact, it looks beyond the present lows of sorrow and despair. The Holy Spirit opens my eyes to a deeper satisfaction than I can ever experience through succeeding in a job, using my spiritual gifts, or seeing our children born and grow to maturity. This new vision allows me to see and taste a deeper purpose and joy that God promises and wants me to experience to the full . . . “that my joy might remain in you” (KJV).

When this joy invades my life, it settles in the inner citadel of the soul. It is there regardless of circumstances. It is boundless. It will not displace the emotional highs but will delight in them. It will not disappear with emotional lows but will live above them—while not excluding expressions of grief or sadness. This quality of joy is a safety net that allows me to fall and not get hurt. “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16). Joy actually grows through trials and suffering.

Finally, fullness of joy coincides with being in the very presence of God. “Thou wilt make known to me the path of life; in Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures forever” (Psalm 16:11). Only as I learn to walk in intimate relationship with God through Christ does this joy take root in my soul.

Thank you for walking with me on the road to understanding and experiencing true joy. I’m not there yet. I am a pilgrim walking where I have never walked before.

Don't Lose Heart

By Mike Treneer

First published in September 2000

Photo courtesy of Daniel Burka

Photo courtesy of Daniel Burka

Writing out of a time of great personal difficulty and stress, the Apostle Paul tells of hardships he endured in Asia, so severe that he “despaired even of life” (2 Corinthians 1:8). Then on his arrival in Macedonia, he says that “this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within” (2 Corinthians 7:5).

Describing himself as “downcast, perplexed, hard pressed on every side,” he tells of “troubles, hardships, distresses, beatings, imprisonments, riots, hard work, sleepless nights” and “hunger.” But Paul remembered four great realities which kept him going during that dark time. He commended these four motivating truths to the Corinthians—and to us.

God’s mercy: “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart” (2 Corinthians 4:1). Perhaps for most of us the greatest area of discouragement is with ourselves. Besides the everyday difficulties of life, we struggle with our own failure, foolishness and sin. We need to remember it is God’s mercy, not our wisdom or goodness, that makes us His servants.

God’s power: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Corinthians 4:6-7).

We who have a passion to see the Gospel advance are often discouraged by the unresponsiveness of those we are trying to reach. Paul reminds us that our confidence should not be in our own ability, skill or cleverness. In fact, it is not in anything about us at all, for we are only the vessels containing a wonderful treasure. Rather, our confidence rests in God’s all-surpassing power.

Jesus’ death: “We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that His life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you” (2 Corinthians 4:10-12).

Paul looked at the difficulties of his life through the lens of Jesus’ death. When we face difficult circumstances, we need to remember the death of Jesus and that He calls us to share in His sufferings (Philippians 1:29). We were never promised freedom from suffering, for discipleship involves taking up the cross and dying to self (Luke 9:23). Without this, our lives can never be truly fruitful (John 12:24-26). Remembering this can transform the pain and the difficulties of life from meaningless struggle to opportunity for Jesus’ life to be revealed in us.

Jesus’ resurrection: “We know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus. . . . Therefore we do not lose heart. . . . For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:13-18).

Our confident expectation of our resurrection with Jesus transforms our attitudes toward life’s trials and troubles. Knowing that we will be presented in God’s presence, we do not lose heart, for no difficulties in this life can compare with the joys of the life to come.

Communities of Grace

By Mutua Mahiaini

First published in January 2014

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Before Stephanie and I moved from Kenya to Colorado Springs in 2012, I had the privilege of experiencing the transforming power of a God-centered small group of friends. The group of Navigator leaders decided to go beyond our work responsibilities and to meet regularly in Nairobi. Our goal was to help one another grow in Christ.

We did indeed grow. What made this group so important in my life was the spirit of humility and vulnerability that grew in our hearts. We confessed to each other, sought to understand each person’s deepest needs, and prayed fervently. We inspired one another onward in our work and encouraged each other through God’s Spirit working in us. This was indeed a community of grace.

This cherished group of friends illustrates an important biblical principle: Although we each have a personal relationship with Jesus, we need a small community of believers to fully mature into the likeness of Christ. Spiritual growth does not occur in isolation. The New Testament speaks approximately 60 times about the “one another” dynamics of spiritual life. Clearly, strong relationships are at the heart of God’s will for us. In Ephesians 4:2-3, Paul writes:

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Paul speaks here of keeping something that we already have. And he calls us to “make every effort” to protect that unity. Our relationships really matter to God.

Community is essential for sustained encouragement, love, and service. The wife of one member in our group inspired us as she went through a prolonged illness that caused extreme fatigue. Just making breakfast left her exhausted. But despite her physical struggle, she continued her outreach work in God’s strength. She saw every relationship in her circle as an opening to share the life of Christ. Today the Gospel continues to spread through those relational networks.

Seeing our friend remain passionate for ministry even during a debilitating illness rebuked us (in a healthy way). She demonstrated that we should not focus on our limitations, but on God’s power. She invigorated our hearts and reminded us that God can use simple acts of service to have a lasting impact.

In this way, a community of grace demonstrates what Hebrews 10:24-25 says. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

We also need a community of grace to be victorious over sin. Notice the counsel that Paul gave young Timothy. “Flee the evil desires of youth, he said, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22).

Because we are all sinful, falling short of God’s holy nature, the tendency is for us to isolate ourselves. Isolation is a way of coping with shame and guilt. But hiding is the opposite of what’s needed for healing and growth. That’s why the grace of God is so important. It gives us the freedom to come out of hiding. Grace is the foundation for a safe community in which we can grow and be healed.

Communities of grace, like the one I experienced in Nairobi, are foundational to everything we do in the Navigator work. The International Executive Team and our Regional Directors have embarked on a long-term, in-depth study of community life in the New Testament. May God lead us together so that we can serve our Worldwide Partnership according to His Word.

Please pray that our Navigator communities around the world will be known as Christ-centered, safe places where people find healing, growth and unity. And may Jesus be revealed through these communities among the lost.