Navigators Neighbors: Restoring Fragmented Communities

Navigators Neighbors: Restoring Fragmented Communities

How does increasing social isolation in communities around the world create an open door for the Gospel? A growing network of Navigators—called Navigators Neighbors—is working to counter the trend toward neighborhood isolation. This article and a short film will show you how easy it is to participate.

Coming Alongside

By David Lyons

Photo courtesy of Harli Marten

Photo courtesy of Harli Marten

Our daughter, on her wedding day, said to my wife, “Mom, will you promise to be there with me when I give birth to my babies?” Renee, of course, said “Yes!” My wife did not know that fulfilling that promise would require her to spend many weeks overseas, but that is what mothers do for their daughters. They show up and come alongside them when needed. 

Someone once observed that Navigators will gladly travel to the other side of the world to help one of their disciples or fellow workers. They don’t need a crowd to get them on a plane. They show up and come alongside their brothers and sisters in Christ when they are needed. 

Recently, an Arab colleague and I flew to a country where I had never been before to come alongside a former imam who is now serving as a Navigator missionary. In this country, Christians are a persecuted minority. I had the privilege of watching what it looks like for one Arab to come alongside another Arab, like Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to come alongside us. 

I noticed six relational traits in my Arab brother as he came alongside others during our week together. I believe that Navigator disciples everywhere need to grow in these areas if we are to flourish in our Calling. 

Love: If the new believers, disciples and workers that we visited know one thing as a result of our visit, it’s that they are loved. You could see it and feel it. Even if you were watching a silent movie of their time together, you would see how they experienced love.

Presence: There is nothing quite like the ministry of showing up and being there to help people in their world. Even if we had said nothing of value, our presence among them would have ministered to them deeply. Recently, I was with a physician who still talks about how I visited him years ago at the hospital during his work breaks. In this virtual and digital age, physical presence is even more important.

Listening: We planned to teach many things on this visit, but first we listened—sometimes for hours. Author Paul Tournier said that being listened to is so close to being loved that most people can’t tell the difference. 

Practical Help: Their felt needs became our priority. As we traveled around the country visiting new believers and disciples, we found that many of them were struggling to make a living. They wanted help starting businesses to support their families. Although we are not experts in that, we are taking steps to arrange the help that they need. 

The Word: We spent extensive time in the Scriptures to provide perspective that would sustain them after our departure. They valued our advice, but they needed much more than that. We came alongside them with an open heart and an open Bible.

Encouragement: We all need encouragement. Paul and his missionary teams made long and dangerous journeys to strengthen and encourage a few disciples. They went because their friends needed encouragement. We all need someone to believe in us, to see Christ in us, to cultivate the faith growing in us. 

When I was a new believer, just beginning to share my faith with others and disciple them, one of my professors said to me, “I see God’s hand of blessing on you.” That shaped me. Even today it moves my heart to remember that feeling of having someone believe in me. When we left our Arab friends, they knew that we sincerely believe in them. 

How would you feel about someone coming alongside you, to be present in your life, to earnestly listen to your felt needs, to provide tangible and practical help, to encourage you with relevant Scriptures, and to truly believe in you?
How far would you be willing to go to come alongside some else?     

David Lyons is an International Vice President of The Navigators. He serves our 5,000 staff in more than 115 countries by coaching leaders and leading change. David is author of Don’t Waste the Pain.