Experiencing Spiritual Generations

By David R.

Navigators in Malawi

Navigators in Malawi

God’s faithfulness to expand His kingdom through spiritual generations—from one life to the next—is powerfully demonstrated in the story of Andy Nyirenda in Malawi.

In the January 2016 issue of Worldwide, David Lyons wrote about what God is doing now in rural Malawi through Andy and his wife, Wezzie. (You can watch a video about God’s work through Andy and Wezzie at this link.)

There is an earlier part to Andy’s story, one that demonstrates God’s promise to impact lives one generation after the next. Andy’s fruitfulness and character are the result of generations of God’s personal investment in many people, including His investment in my own life. 

When God led my wife, Susan, and me to pioneer the Navigator work in Malawi, in 1986, we regularly prayed that God would allow us to experience the fulfillment of His promises for spiritual generations in our lifetime. God gave us the privilege of seeing Malawian men and women come to faith and then become disciples and laborers. It was also exciting to watch God form these people into a team with a heart for reaching Malawi.

Later, God brought David and Andrea Taylor from the United Kingdom to join the effort. Susan and I spent several years working together in ministry with them. Then we commissioned them to move to Lilongwe, Malawi to reach out to university students. The Taylors also believed that God would produce spiritual generations through their investments in students.

That bring us to Andy Nyirenda. He was one of the students who was impacted by the Taylor’s campus ministry in Lilongwe. And now, through Andy and Wezzie, God is laying foundations for more spiritual generations in rural Malawi.

Long before we moved to Malawi, The Taylors, Susan and I had already received the spiritual influence of leaders and mentors. Back in my university days (1974-79), when I first became a part of The Navigators, I was inspired by men and women who took the Scriptures seriously and believed that what they read could be true for them!

Here are a few of the promises we claimed for the ministry in Malawi, even before we began to work there.

"Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left; and your descendants will possess nations and they will resettle the desolate cities . . ." (Isaiah 54:2-4).

"Look among the nations and watch and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. . . . Though it lingers wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay" (Habakkuk 1:5; 2:3).

"Ask of me and I will give you the nations and the very ends of the earth as your inheritance" (Psalm 2:8).

Clearly, all the people who invested in us have had a generational impact leading all the way to rural Malawi. And there is no way to measure what Andy’s influence on people will have in the future.

This generational story about Andy is common in the Navigator work. It’s happening all over the world. Since the 1930s, God’s promises have fueled the faith of countless Navigator men and women who have believed Him for the power to live out a fruitful and supernatural life in a disintegrating world. This faith in God’s promises to produce spiritual generations continues to be one of the hallmarks of those who call themselves Navigators.   

David R. (full name omitted for security) is the Navigator Regional Director for Eurasia. He and his wife, Susan, started the Navigator work in Malawi in 1986. David joined The Navigators during his university years, in 1974-1979.

"We've Prayed Long Enough"

By David Lyons

Andy and Wezzie

Andy and Wezzie

Last summer Andy Nyirenda climbed on his bicycle with his suitcase and pedaled from his rural Malawian village for many miles to a bus station. He then boarded a crowded bus that took him many more miles to an airport. From there he flew from Malawi to Cambodia to join other next generation Navigator leaders who are being prepared to lead into the future.

Andy is a model of a new generation rising up to fulfill our calling to serve among the poor.

(To watch a video about Andy and what God is doing in rural Malawi, please follow this link:

The Navigator movement started with sailors in World War II. After the war, the movement spread to college campuses through sailors who received scholarships for young war veterans. Since then, as those students carried the Gospel around the globe, the movement has now spread to 115 nations.
For years, Navigators worked primarily among middle class people. But the Gospel of Jesus and His kingdom also calls us to the poor and marginalized. Today more and more Navigator disciples like Andy are responding to that aspect of our Navigator Calling.

Andy was discipled by Navigators working in a university ministry where they were praying that God would send someone to the rural poor of Malawi. One day Andy said, “We’ve prayed long enough; it’s time for us to be the answer to those prayers.”

Andy went and literally pitched a tent in the rural village of Lushombe. There was no electricity or running water. He taught himself to build a home and a toilet. He learned how to farm. And he lived among the villagers.

Crowds of children would gather at his home to watch Tom and Jerry videos on his phone. But someone in the village began spreading rumors that Andy planned to kidnap and sell their children, so they stopped coming to his home.

One day the village chief asked Andy to preach at the funeral of the very man who had spread the rumors about Andy. Andy laughed at the irony of the situation. He performed the funeral and the village began to see more and more of Christ in Andy.

A year later, God led Andy to marry Wezzie, a beautiful young woman in the village. Usually, couples in this village did not actually marry because customs made it too expensive. But Andy and Wezzie decided to set an example of how followers of Christ could marry without going into debt. Villagers brought simple wedding gifts, enough for Andy and Wezzie to trade for cows. This enabled them to demonstrate how to support themselves.

Andy’s farm grew, and he also began to raise chickens. But twice his chicken house burned to the ground. The village chief publicly urged him to consult the local spiritist to find out the cause. But Andy said, “I won’t visit him because I believe in the one true God who is in control of everything.” Among those watching was an old man who stood and said, “I feel that the God this young man worships is a true God.”  Many began to seek Christ.

Today Andy is training 12 disciples in whole-life discipleship that addresses not only issues of the heart, but also health and nutrition and marriage. More than 60 couples have followed Andy and Wezzie in getting married. Andy’s 12 disciples are bicycling to another village to invest in another 12 disciples so that their village can be transformed also. Other village chiefs are asking Andy and his disciples to come to their villages too. But Andy is asking them to wait until he’s sure that the community transformation where they are serving is sustained.

Maybe more of us need to say, “We’ve prayed long enough.”
David Lyons is an International Vice President of The Navigators. He oversees international initiatives, communications, and networking of 5,000 staff in more than 100 countries. David is author of Don’t Waste the Pain.