Poverty

A New Generation of Caribbean Leaders

By Alan Ch’ng

Joe Maschhoff (right) and Anthony in Santo Domingo.

Joe Maschhoff (right) and Anthony in Santo Domingo.

On the outskirts of Santo Domingo, the bustling capital of the Dominican Republic, a young man born into dire poverty is now leading people within his network of family and friends to Christ.

Anthony’s life hasn’t been easy. From the time he was born, he has faced every economic obstacle imaginable: a broken family, scarce transportation to reach schools, little money for books and meals. It’s remarkable that Anthony survived his childhood.

Today, despite his country’s high unemployment rate, Anthony has a job as a computer programmer in a bank. He recently married Gleni. Thanks to God’s faithfulness, they have been able to purchase a small starter house in a middle-class neighborhood of Santo Domingo. People around him admire his wisdom, character, and godly lifestyle. In fact, two of his bosses say that Anthony mentors them.

Anthony’s story also demonstrates the power of God to multiply the lives of His followers, to produce spiritual generations through life-to-life outreach and discipleship.

Joe Maschhoff, a pioneering Navigator missionary in the Caribbean, first met Anthony about four years ago at a men’s conference and later invited him out for lunch. During the meal, Anthony agreed to read the Scriptures with Joe, something that Anthony had never done before. They studied regularly over several months and developed a close friendship.

As Anthony learned more about the Gospel of God’s grace, he enthusiastically started his own Bible studies with friends and colleagues. Some have been living on the edge of poverty. More and more people are getting to know about Christ through Anthony’s initiatives.

Joe has also helped Anthony strengthen his connections to Navigators in the region, giving Anthony more opportunities to develop a deeper understanding of biblical leadership, and to participate in regional missions efforts.

Anthony is just one example of how God is producing spiritual generations throughout the Caribbean. The Navigator work in the region started only four years ago. And yet, in January, more than 40 men and women from five Caribbean nations attended a Navigator forum designed to encourage and equip a new generation of Christ-followers.

I believe this first generation of Caribbean Navigators will go on to reach many people who will in turn produce a second generation of believers. That is how God works. We pass on our knowledge about God from one generation to another (Psalm 78:1–8). As Paul said in 2 Tim 2:2, we hand the good deposit of the Gospel to faithful men who are able to teach others. Jesus, envisioning the next generation, prayed that many would believe in Him through the message of His disciples (John 17:20).

Through Joe and his pioneering team, God is establishing a foundation for the Gospel to flow into the Caribbean cultures and to establish spiritual generations. God is transforming families and marriages, which is crucial to reaching the highly relational Caribbean culture.

Please pray that God would continue to protect this generation of believers in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico—and use them to advance the Gospel in the region and around the world.

Alan is a member of the International Executive Team. After serving as country leader for Malaysia, Alan was selected as the regional director of the Asia-Pacific work. Alan is married to Connie and they are blessed with three adult sons.

My New Heroes

By David Lyons

Heroes.png

Who inspires you to follow Jesus? Who are your heroes?

I recently found some new heroes. Our team gathered a group of emerging Navigator leaders from around the world in Manila in order to help prepare them to lead well into the future. We dove into the Scriptures, into one another’s lives, and into experiencing the Navigator ministries in the most broken parts of Manila. It was a stretch for many of us, a stretch that felt good. 

One of my new heroes is Thelma (shown in photo). She leads Samaritana, a beautiful ministry among the thousands of prostitutes in Manila. Where do you go to meet prostitutes there? You go to the bars and clubs. Women who are not prostitutes can only get in if they come in with a man. So Thelma and her team recruit Navigator guys to escort them in and then leave them there so that they can develop relationships with the women. 

Remember how Jesus was a friend of sinners? Thelma and her fellow workers build trusting friendships with the prostitutes, inviting them into a new way of life. Many are now in Christ and experiencing the new life for which He created them! We met a former “sinner” who is now a trained social worker and leader in the ministry.
 
Another new hero of mine is Willy. At this time of year, Willy’s house regularly gets flooded with several feet of water. But he lives there because it’s close to those he serves. Our group gathered at Willy’s local church for an orientation to his ministry.  Then we walked to eight neighborhoods surrounding the church. These are the kinds of neighborhoods that you enter through a narrow alley as you step over trash and residents playing cards.

We split into eight small groups and walked into the neighborhoods with local ministry leaders who were born and raised there. In each case, more than half the people in each neighborhood are involved in the weekly Bible studies, prayer meetings and youth groups that Willy’s team has started. My guide was a young woman who is one of the first from her neighborhood to graduate from college. She was sponsored by others in the ministry. Even though she has a degree, she’s decided to stay in the neighborhood and teach in the local school.

The day before our visit, all of these neighborhoods had been flooded with one or two feet of water. Floods come and go. When the water rises, everyone just moves upstairs or out of the area until the water recedes. The Gospel is flooding these neighborhoods every day. Generations are following Christ together, and although it’s messy and there are often setbacks and challenges, this flood will never recede! 

Thelma and Willy are heroes helping the Gospel advance. They are living examples of those described in our vision: "What characterizes this movement? A heart for the whole person… climates of grace… compassion for the vulnerable and broken… sacrificial unity embracing diversity… cultural relevance with others in the wider body of God… transformed men and women, fragrant with the humility and aroma of Christ."  

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.

"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: https://vimeo.com/150467525)

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.