Spiritual Generations

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.


By David Lyons

Laying On Hands.jpg

Betty (not her real name) looked at her fellow national and expatriate workers at a recent gathering and whispered to me, “I think that we’ve accomplished what we came here to do!”

She was celebrating how the nationals whom she and her husband had equipped were now working together to form and lead teams for the progress of the Gospel. It was a joy for Betty and me to watch this group speaking into one another’s lives, praying for one another, weeping together, laughing together and spurring one another on.

Betty was experiencing what every Navigator missionary hopes to establish—a foundational generation of nationals living and discipling together among the lost.


Our Navigator Values statement makes it clear that we are to live and disciple among the lost together. It includes phrases such as:

  • Love and grace expressed among us in community
  • Families and relational networks in discipling the nations
  • Interdependent relationships in the Body of Christ in advancing the Gospel

Betty’s gathering of fellow workers reminded me of one of my favorite Navigator ministry experiences. My wife and I had formed what we called a Fellowship of Servants to pursue our calling among International Students in Washington, D.C.  Each of us in this fellowship was participating in a traditional local church, and we were busy with our families and jobs. But we intentionally pursued our special calling together. Together we spurred one another on to minister among students who came from around the world. We needed one another. We knew we would flounder if we didn’t pursue our calling with kindred spirits.

From time to time I hear Mutua Mahiaini, our International President, cite this African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” Navigator disciples and laborers simply do not flourish in isolation. We need to be in community with likeminded people who share our distinct calling. We may survive alone, but without community we will tend to drift into other things.

Fulfilling the Navigator Calling together takes on different forms depending on the context in which each of is called to live and work. Some are called to serve in the contexts of traditional local churches. But others are called to pursue the Navigator Calling in places where there are no traditional churches.

I encourage you to take a few minutes to listen to our former International President, Mike Treneer, describe what God is doing to enable Navigators to live and disciple together among the lost in a diverse array of contexts. You can find the video at this link: https://vimeo.com/140540303
David Lyons is an International Vice President of The Navigators. He oversees international initiatives, communications, and networking of 5,000 staff in 115 countries. David is author of Don’t Waste the Pain.


The Third Age

By Mike Shamy

Brazilian Navigators Near Porto Alegre

Brazilian Navigators Near Porto Alegre

I recently came across what was for me a new term: “Third Age.” The Third Age has been defined as that period of life when people emerge from the imperatives of earning a living and/or bringing up children and may be able to look forward to 20 or more years of healthy life.

There are many people in our Navigator Worldwide Partnership who, like me, came to Christ in the 1960s and early 1970s. We were in our late teens or early 20s. And here we are all these years later entering the “Third Age.”

What will we do with this season of life? Will we keep growing in Christlikeness? Health permitting, will we continue to serve Christ and love people, irrespective of any titles or positions we once occupied?

Brazilian Navigators Osvaldo and Lenir Simões were among the very first to come to Christ through the Navigator work in Brazil, which started in the early 1960s. After they were married, it became clear to everyone that God had gifted them to work among non-believers and to help believers grow in Christ. Over the past four decades, God has used them among university students and professionals.

Now in their late 70s, they continue to experience God enabling them to serve many people around Brazil. Based in the southern city of Porto Alegre, they lead people of all ages into deep engagement with the Scriptures and spend extensive time mentoring friends.

Osvaldo and Lenir have seen the following words from Psalm 92 become a reality in their lives: "The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green . . ."

For Lenir, the key to this promise of bearing fruit in the Third Age is to stay “planted in the house of the Lord” throughout the course of life. Trees can’t bear fruit unless they are well-planted and nourished, and neither can people.

“For me, the most important thing is my relationship with God,” she says. “From Him comes my energy, my vigor, my disposition to serve.”

Osvaldo adds that despite the cultural changes in Brazil since the 1960s, he and Lenir have adamantly pursued two biblical principles.

“First is to make sure that we are teaching sound doctrine. I pray daily that not one word would come from my mouth that isn’t based on God’s Word. . . . The second factor is to sustain and protect our vision for reaching the lost.”

God has given Osvaldo and Lenir the opportunity in this “Third Age” to serve teens, young married couples, seasoned professionals, and those about to retire. This was evident in early September when four generations of Brazilians participated in a Navigator gathering in Southern Brazil. Young people come to them the way grandchildren seek counsel from grandparents. Couples with toddlers seek advice from them about childrearing. For those in their 60s, Osvaldo and Lenir continue to be godly role models and peers.

Osvaldo often cites Proverbs 20:29 as a key verse for this generational interdependency. The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old.

“I always tell the young people that I need their strength and energy, but I also remind them that they need my gray hair!” says Osvaldo. “And so, what is it that we need to have in common? Humility. We all need to recognize that we need to walk through life together.”

God’s faithfulness to the ongoing expansion of His kingdom has been clearly evident to Osvaldo and Lenir throughout their many years of service. They know that God will carry the Gospel message forward into the next generations after they are gone.

“Our hope is in the fact that this work is not going to end,” says Osvaldo. “The Gospel is not going to stop with us. . . . This Word was preached to Abraham and Noah, and now it is the same Word that we have received today. This excites me! I am going to die, but God’s Word will continue on forever.”

May God give all of us who are entering the “Third Age” the heart to continue to know Christ and to make Him known. Our best days are before us!
Mike Shamy was born in New Zealand. Mike and his wife, Audrey, became Navigator staff in 1980. From 1989 to 1996 Mike led and coached ministries in New Zealand. In 1999 he led the U.S. Metro Mission. Mike joined the International Executive Team in 2004 and is co-author of The Insider.

Generations on the Move in Indonesia

By IET Communications

Advancing the Gospel through spiritual generations and relational networks is at the heart of our Navigator Calling and Vision. As ordinary people invest in the lives of others, sharing the Gospel in personal ways, God expands His kingdom. This has been happening in Indonesia over the past 40 years.

Now you can watch a video that shares the beautiful story of God’s generational work through Navigators in Indonesia. We encourage you to watch the film and then pray that God would continue to bring many more Indonesians into His family and kingdom.

You can find the Indonesia story in our international video library at this URL: www.vimeo.com/133943422