From Singapore to Japan, Campus to Community
How did you come to know Christ and The Navigators?
I first encountered Christ when my mother brought me to church at the age of 7. Like many second-generation Christians, I had a basic knowledge of Christ, but I lacked a deep and personal relationship with Him. I had a rather nominal involvement with the church, and I left the church after a period of time.
Nevertheless, deep within me, I always felt a strong desire to draw closer to the Lord. Eventually, I started attending the church of a friend whom I met at Junior College.
When I entered university (Nanyang Technological University), I decided that I needed to join a campus ministry to nurture my faith. With that in mind, I started exploring the various Christian clubs available on campus.
To my surprise, I spotted a familiar face from my first church, someone whom I had never interacted with before. That moment of recognition provided the perfect opportunity for one of the Navigators’ staff to approach me, and my life took on a new trajectory from then on.
How has The Navigators made a difference in your life beyond the campus?
The Navigators became the place that solidified my Quiet Time routine. Through Bible Study and intentional fellowship with other Navigators, I started to grasp the importance of discipleship.
As I laboured alongside them, I noticed the shortage of labourers in the field and the critical nature of this work.
For it is written,
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.
Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
With God's guidance and support, I've been diligently striving to embody the vision of The Navigators:
“To know Christ, to make Him known, and to help others do the same.”
Upon graduating from university and entering the workforce, there was a period of time when I no longer had the support and structure of a campus ministry to anchor me in my spiritual disciplines. During that season of spiritual drought, I found myself trudging through life relying solely on my own strength.
While God remained unwaveringly present and faithful throughout this challenging period, what helped me regain my spiritual footing were the daily spiritual disciplines I had acquired from my time with the Navigators on campus. Reestablishing a regular Quiet Time routine and consistently engaging in it with anyone available reconnected me with God and set me back on the path towards Him.
During this time, I also recalled the 4:40 concept which my mentor once shared with me. This concept emphasises that the 4 years spent on campus would significantly influence the following 40 years of life.
Through this reflection, God reassured me that the time I had devoted to Him within The Navigators, even if it meant sacrificing other interests and activities, was not in vain. Instead, it was a necessary and invaluable season during which He laid and fortified the foundations to equip me for the trials and challenges that awaited in the years ahead.
“If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out,
how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country,
how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?"
Share with us your experiences and lessons from your 3-month mission trip to Japan.
It was a truly blessed collaboration between the NTU Navigator leaders and the Japanese Navigators. Unlike the usual 2-week mission trip in the past, I had the privilege of staying and serving in Japan for an extended period of 3 months! During our time there, we had the wonderful opportunity to support the Japanese Navigators at Utsunomiya in their campus outreach efforts.
The first lesson I learnt from this trip is that God’s timing is perfect — He is patient and equips us with the necessary skills and knowledge for His good work. For instance, during my third year of university, we initially planned a short-term mission trip, but due to the unavailability of Utsunomiya Navigators’ staff, the trip had to be cancelled.
At first, I felt disappointed, but as the year unfolded, the Lord provided me with unique opportunities through my school and church to deepen my understanding of the Japanese language and culture. These experiences not only enhanced my proficiency in Japanese, but also enabled me to share the gospel with locals in their native language, engage in meaningful Bible discussions with them, and establish genuine connections as we shared our lives.
During our stay in Japan, whether it was hosting, organising prayer meetings, conducting follow-ups, sharing our lives, or dedicating Quiet Time to the Lord, our labour and service proved demanding yet fulfilling, as we had to apply everything we had learnt from The Navigators over the past 4 years. We were required to be intentional, focused, and work together as a team, while also being mindful of the need to rest.
The Singaporean mission team with the locals in Japan
While reflecting on this trip, I have come to realise that serving the Lord is more akin to running a marathon than a sprint. I am now learning to pace myself and prioritise abiding in Him so that I can continue to run the marathon of life well.
The Japanese staff who worked alongside us taught me to view Christianity in a new perspective. I used to approach evangelism theoretically, but the Japanese staff showed me how to serve and love with humility. When I asked the students about their reasons for accepting Christ, they simply said that no one had ever loved them in this way before. It was the love of Christ embodied by the Japanese staff that touched their hearts and ultimately led them to Christ.
As I reflected on my actions, I realised that while I had been sharing information and knowledge about the gospel, I had not always been sharing love. This trip has humbled me in so many ways.
I have also learnt about the importance of teamwork and the value that each individual brings to the team. Understanding our roles within the team and executing them effectively while also supporting and encouraging each other is crucial.
Our strengths and weaknesses were even brought to light during the trip. Those who were initially more passive had to step up, while the proactive ones had to learn when to take a step back.
I have always considered myself a great team player, but this trip revealed that I have a natural tendency to act independently, like a Lone Ranger. While there are merits of being self-reliant in certain situations, I believe that it has limited our team’s potential. If I had shared and integrated my gifts with the team more effectively, we could have undoubtedly accomplished much more.
Can you share a few stories or experiences of the people you are reaching out to or discipling currently or in the past?
Tasuku is a Japanese Christian whom I met during an online exchange programme with OMF. Our initial connection was based on language exchange, but I was pleasantly surprised by his eagerness to engage in deeper spiritual conversations.
Recognising his desire for spiritual fellowship, we decided to continue our meetups on a monthly basis after the programme concluded. Currently, I am engaged in Lessons on Assurance studies with him in Japanese.
This has indeed been a blessed season of friendship and spiritual growth, one that the Lord had prepared me for following my 3-month mission trip with the Japanese Navigators and 2 years in a Japanese church alongside a fellow Navigator from university.
Ben is a friend I met during National Service. Our friendship was quite unexpected, considering our contrasting personalities. What started as occasional meal invitations from him has now evolved into a decade-long friendship.
Remarkably, we now find ourselves engaged in Bible Study together! It's been a great source of encouragement to witness Ben’s spiritual growth over the years. His hunger for the Lord and His Word is evident and inspiring. Furthermore, Ben often poses thought-provoking questions that compel me to reflect on my own beliefs.
What has been even more astonishing is that upon learning about the discussions that Ben and I had regarding the faith, Ben's father expressed a keen interest in meeting me. He wanted to address the faith-related questions he had carried in his heart for a long time.
This experience serves as a powerful reminder that God's desire goes beyond reaching individuals like Ben; it encompasses his entire household as well!
Ben (in black) and Joseph having fellowship with other members in the
4:19 DMC (Disciplemaking Community)
I never had a close relationship with my parents. While we have always shared the same physical space as a family, we rarely shared our lives. I tended to keep to myself and mind my own business at home.
However, a significant turning point occurred when I rededicated my life to the Lord and made a conscious effort to prioritise Him. It was during this time that I earnestly said to Him,
1) “Speak to me, and I will obey whatever you put forth.”
2) “I desire to become a man after Your heart, one who will lead and pastor my future household (as described in Joshua 24), whereby me and my household will serve You — not just speak or sing about You, but truly serve and labour for Your Kingdom and heart.”
The Lord responded to my prayers, saying, "Okay, begin with your parents."
Though I was initially taken aback, I eventually embraced obedience.
As a result, my parents and I now engage in weekly reflections and pray for one another every Sunday night. This period has become a precious season that led my parents out of their spiritual wilderness and into the presence of the Lord.
Once again, I attribute this transformation to the training and equipping I have received during my time with The Navigators.
Joseph and his parents
What is your life verse or a promise verse you’re claiming?
Recently, the Lord has been impressing upon me the importance of patience, trust, abiding in Him, and having faith that He is ultimately in control.
Though we live in a fallen world where things and people can fail us, I have faith in God because He is unfailingly good, faithful and consistent.
Living in a results-driven society like Singapore, it is easy to become consumed by the pursuit of achievements, and often with impatience. However, I have come to understand that the good things of the Lord often take time, and above all, a heart of surrender.
During this season, I am holding onto Psalms 27:14,
“Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.”
May the Lord and His Word encourage and refresh you, just as it has for me!
Joseph is a Special Needs Educator who was discipled by The Navigators during his university days at NTU (Nanyang Technological University). While pursuing his degree in Psychology, he studied Japanese as one of his elective courses and has since become proficient in conversational Japanese.
Joseph is currently involved with the Navigators’ 4:19 DMC, a Disciplemaking Community inspired by Matthew 4:19, which reads, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Joseph is committed to embodying The Navigators' mission of life-on-life discipleship. He actively shares the message of Christ and nurtures disciples within his family and social networks as an integral part of his daily life.