My New Heroes

By David Lyons


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.

Young Europeans Learn the Joy of Giving and Receiving

By Mike Treneer

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In early March, Chris and I had the privilege of joining more than one hundred European Navigator staff who work with college students in ten countries. Seeing firsthand the faith of these young men and women filled us with joy. We were impressed by how a new generation of leaders is practicing the spiritual disciplines that we had learned in the 1970s, including the partnership of giving and receiving. It was clear that, forty years later, Navigator DNA continues to resonate with a new generation!
One conversation in particular stands out to me. During one of the meal times, we sat with Jakar and Martine, a young staff couple from the Netherlands. They have taken a huge step of faith by leaving promising careers in order to dedicate full attention to help Dutch students come to the fullness of life in Christ. Jakar and Martine are right in the middle of the huge challenge of fundraising. We listened to them tell wonderful stories about how, with impeccable timing, God had provided housing and finances for them. This reminded us of our own early faith adventures during which God also provided for our needs in remarkable ways.
Partnership in giving and receiving is a spiritual discipline that is vital for the growth of the Gospel. Philippians 4:15 says, "Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the Gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only." The Greek word koinonia (often translated “fellowship”) is frequently used in the New Testament to describe this practical “sharing” of financial resources.
Jesus demonstrated this in His own ministry (see Luke 8:1-3). A group of women financially supported Him. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna. Have you ever wondered why Jesus left us this example? He could have made His living as a carpenter, or He could have financed His ministry by helping Peter, Andrew, James, and John develop their fishing business as a missional enterprise. He also could have fed Himself and His disciples with miracle loaves and fishes. But instead He chose to model the vital spiritual discipline of sharing—a partnership in giving and receiving.
In our Navigator work around the world, we need a new generation of young men and women with the vision and commitment to partner in giving and receiving as Paul did with the Philippians. The spiritual discipline of giving generously from our financial resources is complemented by young men and women like Jakar and Martine who are willing to step out by faith and invest the finances they have received for the sake of the Gospel’s advance among the nations.
May each new generation of Navigators embrace this joyful partnership just as Jakar, Martine, and the friends who support them have experienced. You can be sure that those who do this will experience the living God who generously provides for all our needs.

Mike Treneer is International President of The Navigators. Mike and Chris lived in Kenya for 16 years where Mike helped develop our Africa ministries and became our Africa Director. Mike served on the International Executive Team and led our Europe work before becoming President in 2005.