Good News for Family and Friends

As we continue to consider “What characterizes our movement?” from The Navigators Vision, we come to another characteristic: “They demonstrate faith and courage as they live and move among their friends and families.”
My aunt Nina passed away recently. She was my mom’s oldest sister, a lovely lady who started a career as a bank teller in the days when a high school diploma and an above-average ability in math was enough for such a position. She retired as a vice president of a bank branch. Like most of my family, she was not a religious person. We had a few light discussions about Jesus over the years, but they weren’t as frequent nor as deep as I now wish.
I learned about Nina’s passing through my cousin Peggy’s Facebook post. Shortly afterward, Peggy called and said that Nina had told my cousins that I was the only person she would want to conduct her funeral. I was both honored and sad. I was honored that my aunt would think of me in that way, but sad that she never told me directly.
So, I found myself surrounded by Nina’s friends and my family, standing next to my aunt’s coffin and a hole in the ground where her body would be buried next to my uncle and grandparents. I sought to communicate the Good News of Jesus to my family, most of whom do not know Jesus. The way I see it, they all are looking for Him. Yet many are looking in destructive places. On the other hand, there are some in my family who do know Jesus. This has not always been true. Since Iris and I trusted Christ nearly 40 years ago, God has done some amazing things in our family.
It takes courage and faith to “live and move among friends and families.” But I believe that when we train people as disciples, we must give greater emphasis to families and relational networks as their primary place to advance the gospel. It is in these ongoing relationships that we learn the hard work of prayer, faith, love, and perseverance. This is where the breaking of fallow ground has to take place. I once talked to a Nav friend who was known as a gifted evangelist. He told me that his longing for his younger brother to know Christ was so painful that it never left his mind.
When my mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Iris and I asked if we could share with her about what the Bible says happens to people when they die. We spent a few precious hours at the kitchen table with her and my stepdad walking through the Good News in the Scriptures. The presence of the Holy Spirit was palpable. Mom had seen my sister come to Christ and had seen the changes in Iris and me. Yet somehow she had resisted the obvious power of God, although she acknowledged it. I learned on the day of her death that she had not only placed her faith in Christ, she had shared that truth with my aunt.
“They demonstrate faith and courage as they live and move among their family and friends.” Might it be true of me, of you, and of the people we disciple!
For Your Consideration:

  • How did you react to this story? What do you want to take away from it?
  • Why do you think we need both faith and courage to be deeply involved with friends and family members who are not yet believers?
  • How, specifically, might you demonstrate faith and courage in such relationships?

Al Engler is the director of Nav Neighbors. To contact him or to learn more about his ministry, click here.

Editor's Note: This is one in a series of articles unpacking the Navigator vision. The series begins with Unpacking Our Vision: An Introduction.