For Leon and Giny Faddis, joy has multiplied over the years as they opened their home and their lives to young people involved with The Navigators. But this joy wasn’t always evident.
Prior to their involvement with The Navigators, Leon had built a successful trucking business in Pennsylvania, and his trucks were precious to him. “Perhaps a little too precious,” he shared. His youngest son, Dennis, when asked what his daddy was doing, said, “Playing with his trucks.” Leon had a successful business but he didn’t have peace and joy in his life. This changed when he attended a Navigator conference in 1960 at the invitation of his brother. Leon became more serious about following God fully.
Leon and Giny started inviting local staff and students over for weekend retreats at their large home. They had an indoor swimming pool and a player piano, so their home provided a fun place for gatherings. Leon constructed hanging benches over the pool, so students could listen to the speaker and sit with their feet dangling in the water. Sometimes 50 students would come for the weekend.
Their family of four children grew to include many “adopted” children who consider Leon and Giny their spiritual grandparents. Giny says, “Along with four children, 10 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren, we have many ‘adopted’ grandchildren. Students who used to come to the house have become part of our family and stayed in touch over the years.”
The joy that Leon and Giny have been able to share with so many students is a result of significant mentoring relationships that taught them to spend time in God’s Word. Leon’s own father died when Leon was 16, but he considers longtime Navigator Jim Downing his spiritual father. “Jim Downing taught me to meditate on the Word of God day and night.”
Others recognized the powerful discipling that took place in the Faddis home. Leon shares, “Harvey Osmond and Jim Webster (Navigator staff) asked us to pray about bringing two young Navigator men into our home. They were being discharged from the service and were not college material. They needed help with a trade and preparation for life outside the military.”
The family’s involvement in The Navigators extends beyond Leon and Giny. Their daughter Jeannette Taylor and her husband, Dick, are on staff in Virginia with Navigator Church Ministries. Jeannette says she learned the joy of hospitality from her parents. “Nothing brings me greater joy than to have people stay in my home and shower them with hospitality. We have been in Virginia for four years and already have more than 50 names in our guest book.”
While there have been many changes in the ministry of The Navigators over the years, what hasn’t changed is the commitment to studying the Word of God. When asked how he would encourage someone who is lacking joy, Leon was steadfast: “People need to learn to feed themselves from the Word of God, to depend on God to meet their needs.”