We had a wonderful 50th Anniversary Celebration Dinner on 18th August at the Grand Ballroom of the Orchid Country Club. Close to eight hundred Navigators, ministry pioneers, ministry partners, and current volunteers came together for the culmination of a year of celebratory events which included an island-wide prayer walk, a scripture memory challenge, the NavMemories Stories Project and a commemorative journal “With Eyes Singled to His Glory.”
At the dinner, Doug Erdmann, our National Director, refocused our attention on the task God still has for The Navigators. Here are excerpts from his speech. (Note: the speech was preceded by a video of the finals of the women’s 4×400 relay race at the Beijing Olympics. Sanya Richards of the U.S. ran the last leg of the race to give her team a come-from-behind win.)
“Sanya Richards ran to win. The Bible tells us to do the same thing in 1 Corinthians 9:24, ‘You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win.’ (The Message)
Singapore Navigators’ history is rather like this relay race. We started out fast, and maybe slowed down a little in the middle due to changes in Singapore culture, certain relational issues and philosophical differences. I’d like to think that we’re now in the final lap of the race, straining forward to win. To win, we must do three things.
First, we need to fix our eyes on the finish line.
As Christ’s followers, we are called to fix our eyes on Jesus (Heb 12:2), and what He has called us to do. We also need to know what not to fix our eyes on. There are two things in particular—what God has called others to do, and the past.
There are many good things God has churches and other organizations in Singapore doing. We thank the Lord for them. But we don’t fix our eyes on them. If we do we’ll get discouraged or proud.
Sanya Richards wouldn’t have done well if she had thought too much about the past, especially about the slowness of the runner who preceded her. We rejoice in the great things that the Singapore Navigators have done in the past, but we don’t dwell on them. The focus must be on what God is doing now. As Isaiah 43:18-19 says, ‘Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?’
And God is doing some very encouraging things now! In the last three years, we’ve had seven new staff join our team. We’ve also instituted a comprehensive new staff training curriculum. Three years ago, most staff were under budget. Now virtually all are at budget or above. Our university ministries are stronger in discipling. We’ve launched several new ministries … the alumni/community ministry, the 20s-30s ministry and a ministry at Republic Polytechnic. In May this year we hosted a first-time-ever Asia-Pacific students’ conference with over 300 participants from eight countries.
God is doing a new thing! We want to celebrate the past. But we also want to rejoice in the present and the future!
Second, to win, we must stay in our lane.
In the race shown in the video, each runner had her own lane. If she went outside of it, the whole team would have been disqualified.
What is our lane as Navigators? What has God called the Navigators to do?
I spend many weekends watching my son play baseball, and I get to meet the parents of the other boys. After exchanging names, often the next question is, ‘What do you do?’ I tell them that I work for The Navigators, and someone will invariably say, ‘Oh, shipping!’ ‘No,’ I explain, ‘it’s a Christian organisation.’ Usually the conversation ends there! But occasionally the conversation goes further, particularly if the person happens to be a believer:
‘So, what exactly do The Navigators do?’
‘We make labourers for the harvest. You know, the harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few?’
‘Oh, and how do you do that?’
‘We evangelise to make converts, establish to make disciples, and equip to make labourers, so that we can send them into the harvest.’
The 3 E’s are our lane. This is what we must continue to do. Each is critical to raising up labourers for the harvest.
Finally, to win we must run hard.
Sanya Richards, the American runner in the video, ran hard.
The apostle Paul said that, by God’s grace, he worked harder than all the rest. (1 Cor 15:10)
Our staff and volunteers have been running hard these past few years. And by God’s grace, we have accomplished a lot. Some may even be thinking, ‘Now is the time Doug is going to give us a break!’
Unfortunately, I have to say what Winston Churchill said to the British people in World War II, ‘I have nothing to offer you except blood, sweat and tears.’
But, if we run hard and have courage and faith, something that Winston Churchill also said may happen. People will look back and say, ‘this was their finest hour.’
Many of us start out running hard, but then we begin to coast. Sit back. Busyness, wealth, comfort creeps in. Is this the way life in ministry ends?
In the poem, The Last Defile, Amy Carmichael quotes from the epitaph of a Swiss mountaineer, ‘he died climbing.’ I want to die climbing. Do you? How do you know if you’re climbing? If you are obeying Jesus last command to ‘make disciples.’
As Howard Hendricks, noted professorat Dallas Theological Seminary says, ‘Our risen Christ left this legacy – the Magna Charta of the church – ‘make disciples.’ He provided both the model and the method. His life – and death – recast the lives of men. He demonstrated that you have not done anything until you have changed the lives of men.’”
319 student leaders on 26 campuses from 8 countries across the Asia-Pacific region attended CONNECT 2012. The video below was screened at the conference opening.