Humility

Who Am I?

By Mutua Mahiaini

Photo courtesy of Mikito Tateisi.

Photo courtesy of Mikito Tateisi.

We’re surrounded by “spiritual heroes,” men and women who in faith have accomplished great things for the Lord. Last week, my wife, Stephanie, and I spent several days with leaders of other Christian missions, and we were blessed by stories of modern-day heroes who are advancing the Gospel, sometimes in very challenging situations.

Some of my heroes include Dawson Trotman, the founder of The Navigators, and Lorne Sanny, his successor. I also draw great inspiration from my two immediate predecessors, Jerry White and Mike Treneer. I could also mention many co-laborers in the Navigator work around the world today.

Reflecting on the legacy of great men and women of faith should lead us to imitate their faith (Hebrews 13:7). But there is a danger: Comparing ourselves to our heroes might lead us to withdraw from serving God because we don’t think we measure up.

Consider Moses’ responses when God came to him in a burning bush. The Lord called him to fulfill a seemingly impossible task: to confront the king of Egypt and to lead thousands of enslaved Israelites to freedom (Exodus 3:7–10).

Put yourself in Moses’ shoes. Wouldn’t it have been extraordinarily arrogant for Moses to accept this role? That appears to have been Moses’ first thought, for he responded to God by saying: “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11). I’m sure I would have said the same thing had I been standing next to that burning bush.

And yet, Moses was looking at the situation only through the narrow lens of his weaknesses. As a result, he said, “Who am I?” God responded to Moses by expanding his narrow, human perspective. He opened up Moses’ view by saying, “I will be with you” (Exodus 3:12). Those five words changed everything. The God of heaven and the earth would be with him, so the Pharaoh and his army could not prevail.

Moses had to decide: Will I respond on the basis of my human weaknesses or will I respond in faith in God’s power and presence? We all face choices like Moses did.

This story helps me see that living by faith in God’s power and promises is not arrogant. Rather, faith leads me to make room for God to act according to His purposes—despite my weaknesses. Humility leads me to submit to whatever He calls me to do, and to trust Him to help me fulfill that call.

How can we focus on God’s power rather than ourselves? Paul wrote: “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life” (Romans 2:7). John Stott explains that glory is the manifestation of God Himself, honor is God’s approval, and immortality is the unfading joy of His presence. God has hardwired these three quests—glory, honor, and immortality—in every human being. The key is to persistently pursue God’s glory, not our own.

Paul also said, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). This scripture reveals that the grandiosity or simplicity of what we do is not important. How we measure up in comparison to the spiritual heroes we admire is not important. God wants us to do everything, even small things, for one purpose: to manifest His glory to the world around us.

By living for God’s glory, we avoid two dangers. First, we don’t allow our human weaknesses to determine how we serve God. As God calls us, we can step forward in bold faith, trusting that He will demonstrate His power through our weaknesses.

Second, living for God’s glory keeps us from living for selfish ambitions, which is meaningless. To pursue God’s glory, we must surrender our selfishness to His will. And that is the essence of humility, worship, and meaning.

Mutua is the International President of The Navigators.

From Anger to Forgiveness

By David R., Regional Director for Eurasia

Orphan.jpg

Abandoned at birth, Sophia (not her real name) was taken to a cold, gloomy Eurasian orphanage. She was one of 250 children living in a three-story building. Strict and sometimes abusive government teachers raised the children. In this oppressive system, Sophia would attempt to survive until she was 16-years old.

Most of the kids in her institution had lice. The food was bland. Chores were rigorous. Punishments were severe. At age six, after committing a minor infraction, Sophia was forced to hold up a heavy chair for an extended period. On some occasions, the teachers beat the kids with phone cords and then placed them in hot showers.

In this lifeless environment, Sophia bonded with some of the other orphans. They defended one another against the harsh treatment of the teachers. They were her brothers and sisters through elementary and high school. But
she would lose those friendships at age 16, when the orphanage forced Sophia to leave without any money or relational support.

As a result of this harsh and loveless upbringing, Sophia says that her heart increasingly filled with anger toward her mother, whom she had never met.

“I was very angry in high school,” said Sophia. “I wanted to find my mother and hurt her with words. I knew from my experience at the orphanage that words couldbe very heavy and painful. I wanted to use words to make her pay for what she had done to me.”

Despite her hardships, Sophia managed to enter college. She moved into a student house and lived with some Russian girls from her orphanage. A Christian woman would come to visit them. Through that woman, Sophia met a Navigator missionary, Jenna (not her real name), who began caring for her and reading the Bible with her.

“Jenna was a woman of integrity,” she says. “Until I met her, I had never seen words and actions together in a person. She was always caring for the poor. During one of our Bible studies, Jenna showed me verses that said that God had adopted us all—that without God everyone is an orphan.”

In 2006, Jenna invited Sophia to a camp for young people who had an interest in knowing more about Jesus. Sophia attended the camp and surrendered her life to God. This humility before God opened her to revolutionary change by the power of the Holy Spirit.

“God showed me that I was not perfect, and that God also loved my mother,” Sophia recalls. “I began to realize that I had no right to judge her. Because of God’s Spirit and His Word, I could see that my anger toward my mother was caused by pride.”

Jenna continued to help Sophia mature in Christ through the spiritual disciplines—reading the Scriptures and prayer. Sophia also became strongly connected to a community of Navigators in Eurasia. By God’s power, she realized that her mother must have been suffering with guilt and pain, and she longed to remove that pain. God had replaced her anger with compassion.

Through a remarkable series of events in 2009 to 2010, Sophia discovered that her mother lived with other relatives in a rural village. They arranged a time for Sophia to go to her mother’s home and meet her for the first time.

“That first moment—I was praying. It was hard to believe,” Sophia said. “I was dealing with a lot of pain. My mother was very nervous. But I was thankful that God had removed my anger. I sat with her and told her that I forgave her. She cried a lot. I told her that I could forgive her because of my faith in Jesus.”

Today, Sophia has a growing relationship with her mother and extended family. She also serves as an integral part of our Navigator team in Eurasia. Her long-term goal is to finish a post-graduate degree that will enable her to work with orphans as a teacher or counselor.

“I want to share the Gospel with them. I can be a reference to help them survive after they leave the orphanages. I understand them and their needs,” Sophia said. “Maybe when they graduate I can help
them join a faith community like I found.”

What about you? Do you need to forgive someone? Sophia’s story demonstrates that if we humble ourselves before God and walk closely with Him, He will transform us and give us the power to move from anger to forgiveness.

Peacemakers in Turbulent Times

By Jerry White, International President Emeritus

Photo courtesy Randy Colas

Photo courtesy Randy Colas

Hatred. Divisiveness. Fear. Hostility. Animosity. Gloating. Joy. Relief. In the wake of changing governments and political turmoil, people in nation after nation are rocked with these emotions.

Today in country after country, wars and divisions split families and neighbors. In many places, the opposition is murdered or exiled. In others, no one dare speak a word publicly about any government actions or officials. Peaceful transitions of power are rare. And too often, justice and righteousness are nowhere to be seen.

In democratic countries, people expect to see more civility. And yet, during the recent U.S. election, accusations and harsh words became the norm. This occurred when there was no obvious oppression, injustice or outright evil. Divisive language emerged when there was only a difference of political philosophy. What are we as believers to do or think?
 
All of us look at political choices through a hierarchy of our priorities: the needs of the poor, the Supreme Court, laws regarding business, refugees, foreign policy, etc. But if we elevate these priorities higher than advancing the Gospel, or higher than our relationships, we can easily fall into unnecessary conflict.

The Bible often warns us about the danger of division among believers. In John 17:23, Jesus prayed that we as followers of Christ may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Our unity, Jesus said, is paramount to His purpose of reaching the lost with the message of His grace.

Through the years, I have worked with officials in the administrations of four presidents. They were good people. They were friends. I did not always agree with them or their policies, but we worked together for the common good. And I believe that the Scriptures can help us do the same.

First, it helps me to remember that God is in ultimate control. I recall Isaiah’s words about Cyrus, a pagan king: This is what the Lord says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of . . . (Isaiah 45:1). In my Bible, I made a note by another verse regarding the U.S. election: No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt a man. But it is God who judges; He brings one down, he exalts another (Psalm 75:6–7).

God is sovereign over the nations. Yet our emotions may still consume us. And these emotions can often cause division, or keep us from expressing the Gospel as we should. How do we walk with Christ and honor God in our times?

Sometimes believers must take a stand against direct or systemic evil. But here is a short list of what we all can do as peacemakers and good citizens:

  • Pray diligently for the leaders, especially for godly counsellors and moral decisions. We read in 1 Timothy 2:1–2 that we are to pray for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. Remember to pray for the leader’s surrounding team.
  • Keep your walk with Jesus fresh and yielded.
  • Be humble: Consider the lenses through which you prioritize your political and moral thinking and ask God to show you if your priorities should change.
  • Remember that we do not necessarily know the full truth of many issues. So let’s pray and listen to others, taking care in not adamantly expressing our own views.
  • Finally, I stay focused on my calling. I am not called to be a political activist, but to be an evangelist and disciple-maker. It is not wrong to be publicly engaged, but our purpose is to communicate the truth of Christ’s redeeming power, a pure Gospel. We must not give people the impression that adhering to one political view or another is necessary to be follower of Jesus. We should engage in the issues of our times, but do so with an effort to keep the peace and to live out the Gospel.

In all things, we can rest. God is always on the throne. His purposes cannot be thwarted. Our role as Navigators continues to be “to know Him and to make Him known.”    

Dr. Jerry White is International President Emeritus of The Navigators. He served almost 19 years as International President (until 2005). He retired as a Major General from the US Air Force. He and his wife, Mary, live in Colorado Springs.