Living and Discipling among Family and Friends

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Living and Discipling among Family and Friends

Posted on 15 Aug 2023

How did you get to know The Navigators? How has The Navigators made a difference in your life?

(Thomas) I was first introduced to The Navigators through some neighbourhood friends who invited me to Sunday School. My Sunday school teachers were Navigator contacts, so I learnt the Navigator basics during my early Christian life, which include The Wheel, Word Hand, Quiet Time, prayer, scripture memory, etc.

One of my Sunday school teachers invited my class to meet weekly in the neighbourhood for in-depth Bible Study, review scripture memory verses and prayer. This went on for about a year.

Although I was active in the church’s youth ministry, I had a rough character. It was during this time that a Navigator staff invited me to join a Navigator overnight prayer meeting at Roy Robertson’s home. Subsequently, another Navigator staff challenged me, stating that God was more interested in who I was than in what I could do for Him.

Intrigued, I decided to join his Bible Study group after work, participated in “open-air” evangelism and even went on a mission trip to Malaysia. Later, I was invited by Dave Dawson to live in his home for home training and character development.

Through home training, the Lord significantly shaped my character. I had the privilege of witnessing the marriage and family dynamics of a Navigator couple and family which allowed me to learn about Biblical marriage and Christian parenting.

In 1970, God led me to join The Navigators as a full-time staff through the invitation of Dave Dawson. I learnt the practical steps of evangelism, discipling, investing in faithful men, equipping others to be labourers, leading a disciplemaking team and ministry, and training leaders.

I have been incredibly privileged to be involved in disciplemaking missions with The Navigators in Indonesia, Malaysia, USA, Japan, Australia and Myanmar. I am forever thankful to God for using me and my wife as His instrument in raising spiritual generations in these countries by His grace.

I first encountered The Navigators when I was invited to a conference in 1967 during my pre-university days. Under the leadership of Roy and Phyllis Robertson, The Navigators was trying to recruit 30 godly men and 30 godly women. Dr. Benjamin Chew was the key speaker and he spoke on Jeremiah 17:7-8 and John 12:24-25:

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

— Jeremiah 17:7-8 (ESV)

Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life”.

— John 12:24-25 (ESV)

I was challenged by these two verses, but I did not know how to act upon them.

As a result, nothing significant happened in my life until a year later when I met Dave and Mary Dawson. They were assigned to Singapore to replace the Robertsons, who were tasked with pioneering a ministry in Indonesia. The Dawsons demonstrated their commitment to follow Jesus and serve in Singapore despite facing opposition from their own family, and God honoured their faith and commitment.

Being the first Christian in a Buddhist family environment was not easy for me. When I faced strong opposition from my parents for declining a sought-after executive position that my father was retiring from in order to serve God by working with The Navigators (as Dawson’s first secretary), it was a challenging moment.

I desired to follow in the footsteps of Dave and Mary Dawson, but I lacked the courage and knowledge to do so while still obeying the Lord and honouring my parents. I feared that if I went against their wishes, they might never come to faith.

Thankfully, the Navigators provided invaluable support and spiritual clarity for me during those difficult times, and I received counsel on how to honour and relate to my parents. Over time, their hearts softened and they began to trust and respect my desire to work in a lower-paying job.

Without the Navigators' godly counsel, my life would have taken a very different direction, and I might not have followed God's calling to seek Him first and His righteousness, as stated in Matthew 6:33.

During the initial years, I learnt how to focus on God’s Word, put my trust in Him and not fear the opinions of others. I learnt to rely on God for strength and trust in His faithfulness to provide for all my needs. This deepened my faith and conviction.

I had numerous candid opportunities to observe how the Dawsons interacted with others, how they raised their young family in the fear of the Lord, and how they handled family crises. Their home was open to many who were associated with the Navigators, and it was extensively used for home training.

During this time, I learnt essential life skills, including how to balance my priorities as a Christian and how to practise hospitality with warmth, love, and confidence. There were many aspects of their lives from which I picked up valuable lessons from observing them, which were appealing to me.

What is your ministry about? Your vision or mission?

Our community group consists of four couples who are in the 50s-70s age group, along with their families. Most of our parents are either deceased, elderly and/or living overseas. We meet regularly to study the Scriptures, pray for one another, our extended family members, their needs, and our individual ministries. The primary purpose of our group is to encourage and support each other in our faith journeys.

Our ministry is two-fold:

1. To motivate and encourage the working professionals who were previously graduates from our student ministries, urging them to reach out to their families, extended families, friends and fellow believers in the locations where the Lord has placed them.


Couples of our community ministry with their adult children


2. To trust God for a personal disciplemaking outreach to our relatives and friends.


Extended family members who are pre-believers

Our mission is:

1. To raise up communities of disciples among relatives and family members who will support and inspire each other to live as devoted disciples and labourers for Christ, wherever God has placed us.

2. To build a community of badminton players, their families and extended families, helping them to come to know the Lord and encouraging one another to become dedicated disciples and labourers for Christ.


Community of pre-believing friends who play badminton together regularly

Can you share a few stories or experiences from your community that have impacted someone?

It is heartening to witness one of our members consistently encouraging his mother who resides overseas in her faith, and reaching out to extended family members. His wife used to teach after-school students as a means of ministering to them. Currently, she teaches the Scriptures to secondary school students in a girls' brigade, using this platform to share the gospel with them

Another member, who is a university instructor, has been intentionally building relationships with his pre-believing colleagues to influence them for Christ. On the other hand, his wife volunteers her time to visit low-income senior citizens and ensure that their physical, social, and medical needs are being addressed. This act of kindness and compassion truly reflects the love of Christ.

Through a network of relationships, I met CL, who was going through a painful separation and potential divorce. She came from a nominal Catholic background and had not previously contemplated believing in Christ. The fervent Christian religiosity displayed by her mother-in-law did not appeal to her. However, the pending divorce caused her to become more open to the idea of believing in Jesus.

She started praying and reading the Bible regularly, and through this, she came to know Jesus personally. CL experienced the Lord's help and witnessed answered prayers. Her newfound enthusiasm for prayer and reading the Scriptures led her to encourage her family members and office colleagues to do the same.

Once a self-sufficient and materialistic individual, CL’s life has undergone a remarkable transformation. A marital crisis has turned her heart towards a renewed love for the Lord. She now seeks the Lord's counsel rather than rely on her own judgement and listens to His instructions before making important life decisions.

Even though her marriage did not work out, she has discovered new meaning and purpose for her life. Now, she actively participates in a Bible Study group. During our interactions, her comment is always "God is good!"

JH was a chain-smoking taxi driver. He was an excellent badminton player whom I played with frequently. During one of our regular conversations, and in an attempt to share the gospel, JH mentioned that his son was a believer and that if he had any questions, he would ask his son. Unfortunately, during the peak of the COVID pandemic, he was hospitalised as a result of advanced lung cancer and passed away soon after.

However, I was very encouraged to hear from his son that JH had prayed to receive the Lord in the hospital before he passed away. Praise God!

KL, a Grab driver, is a pre-believing friend in my badminton group. We have played with different groups for several years.

One day, he shared with me that his teenage son was a believer. Earlier, he had confided in another Christian friend about his struggles in dealing with his son. The friend asked KL to let him take his son to church, and KL agreed. As a result, KL's son has now come to faith and experienced a transformation in his life.

I encouraged KL to believe in Christ, pointing out that he had witnessed Christ's power in his son's life. However, he expressed that he was not ready.

Recently, he allowed me to pray with him for healing from a persistent sickness that he was dealing with, and miraculously, he was healed.

Please join me in praying for KL's salvation, that his heart may be touched by the grace and love of Christ, and that he may be led to believe and experience the same transformation that his son has encountered.



KL (left) is in Thomas' (right) badminton group




About Thomas and Doreen

Both in their 70s, Thomas and his wife Doreen serve as associate staff and senior mentors with The Navigators Singapore. Thomas previously held the position of National Director with the Singapore Navigators from 2001 to 2009, while Doreen currently works as an associate lecturer at a university.

Thomas and Doreen are proud parents of two adult children and grandparents of two grandchildren.