What drove Jesus from heaven to earth was His heart for people from every tribe, tongue, and nation,” says Mark Lewis, director of The Navigators new ministry, Nations Within. “The Navigators have not had a national focus on the growing mosaic of people who now live in the United States. It is an unbelievably unique Kingdom opportunity. God is putting a desire for multiculturalism in people’s hearts.”
God’s Passion for All People
Nations Within puts a new name and fresh focus on a growing ministry within The Navigators. The emphasis for Nations Within is on people who live in the United States but who have a primary cultural or national identity distinct from the majority culture. This could be Ethiopians in Denver, Latinos in Raleigh Durham, Chinese in Austin, or the large groups of people in major cities who follow Eastern religions.
Mark is highly motivated in this new ministry to the nations within our nation—because he sees it throughout Scripture, from beginning to end.
“Revelation 7:9 was an eye-opener for me,” Mark says. “The apostle John sees heaven. Everybody has white robes, and yet somehow he’s able to recognize the distinction of every tribe, tongue, and nation. The implication is that those cultures and distinctions will cross over into the eternal Kingdom. Without it, we would not see the fullness of God’s creativity.”
Mark and his wife, Janet, have served with The Navigators since 1978 in college ministries, church-focused ministries, overseas missions, and with young adults and city-based ministries in four countries and four states. He knows that no new ministry effort will succeed without a sincere and basic focus on loving people and walking through life with them.
“I have a growing conviction that living out the Gospel among people—in love—and then helping those people turn around and live that out with their friends and neighbors in their own culture is incredibly powerful,” Mark says. “Consistently seeing this core model of incarnational, relational ministry make a transformational impact in different contexts and cultures inspires me to lead this effort.”
The Nations Are Here, and So Are We
According to the Pew Research Center, “with more than 40 million immigrants, the United States is the top destination in the world for those moving from one country to another.” (Full article from Pew Research Center)
“And that number doesn’t even include people in our country who have lived here for generations but retain a strong and beautiful cultural and national identity, like Native Americans,” Mark says.
For Mark, the sovereign placement of people groups is about as exciting as it gets.
“Our calling as Navigators is to see laborers next door to everywhere. So much of that everywhere is now right here. They’re on our doorstep—we just need to see the opportunity.”
Thinking of running with this vision yourself within your ministry context? Mark has four simple tips for you—walk with Christ, love people, learn the culture, and make friends.
“It sounds simplistic, but it’s profound,” Mark says. “It’s the way the Kingdom advances. We need to pray for people and love them for who they are. We must take a step of faith and initiative into their world, recognizing that everybody wants a friend. Be a learner. Truly listen.”
As Nations Within takes shape in the coming months, Mark and those who have joined him in this unique ministry will have the opportunity to collaborate with several other Navigator ministries as they reach out to their local communities.
“It will remain pretty organic,” Mark says. “Please pray for us, begin to build your own cross-cultural friendships, and consider if God has placed these ‘nations next door’ on your heart. This is such an exciting opportunity to be a part of God’s plan for the redemption of all people.”