What happens in Washington doesn’t stay in Washington. Decisions made in our nation’s Capital affect millions of people across our country and around the world. And for every recognizable face in Washington, there are thousands of people working in support roles to keep the wheels of government turning.
Washington, D.C., is arguably the world’s biggest political stage. It’s a fast-paced, high-pressure environment where integrity and character are constantly being tested. For the past five years, Navigators have been quietly and effectively working among the approximately 25,000 staffers on Capitol Hill who play a significant role in what happens in our government.
“Most of these staffers,” says Matt Martin, part of The Navigators National Metro Leadership Team, “are in their 20s and 30s. In some ways, Capitol Hill is like a huge college campus, with a lot more pressure—sort of like having finals week all the time!”
“Each summer we select 12 students from our Collegiate Navigator ministries,” he says, “and have them serve as Congressional interns for eight weeks.” These young people don’t go to work on the Hill unprepared. “We have a team of seven staff—who call themselves EPIC Associates—mentoring the interns,” says Matt. “There is a tremendous amount of coaching that goes into getting these young people prepared to think both biblically and politically in the crucible of a high-powered, high-stress environment.”
It takes a particular kind of person to thrive in this environment. It requires intelligence, strong people skills, and the ability to handle stress while multi-tasking. Matt says that The Navigators consistently get glowing feedback about the young people they train for these roles. “Senior Congressional staffers and members of Congress constantly ask us where we find students of this caliber,” says Matt. “They tell us that these students are some of their best summer interns.”
Brandon is one of the young Navigators serving on Capitol Hill. He met The Navigators his freshman year at Colorado State University. The following year he was part of the Inside Washington summer training program. “It became obvious very early,” says Navigator Ted Yeates, who worked with Brandon, “that he had a heart for politics, great social skills, and the kind of keen sensitivity that would allow him to live as ‘salt and light’ among the people working on the Hill.”
Getting inside the Washington establishment isn’t easy. Brandon worked as a waiter for three months before landing an unpaid intern position. After four months hard work as an intern, he was rewarded with a job as a staffer for a Congressman and is actively involved in legislative issues.
Brandon is one of 12 young Navigator-trained adults coming out of the EPIC Associates’ Inside Washington summer training program who have since graduated and are now working on Capitol Hill. In addition to being active in their local churches they seek to engage fellow staffers spiritually. One thing they do is to invite colleagues to lunchtime meetings to hear intellectually stimulating talks about the uniqueness of Christ. It’s not unusual to have 40 to 60 attendees at these events, which often lead to investigative Bible studies.
What happens in Washington doesn’t stay in Washington. “Navigator-trained students,” says Matt, “have a unique opportunity to minister to their peers on Capitol Hill who are going to be leaders—wherever they go. It’s a tremendous privilege and challenge to serve the private lives of future public leaders—leaders who will one day have a significant impact for the Kingdom of God on our country and the world.”