Fifty six years ago, as Kenya was fighting for independence from British rule, the first Navigator missionaries, led by Doug Sparks, stepped on to Kenyan soil and began to minister to Mau Mau freedom fighters, among them the late Dedan Kimathi. In a letter dated 27th December 1956, the latter, appreciating the work God was doing in His life as he studied Navigator Bible study material by correspondence, writes, “I trust you will receive me as your child in Christ and sustain me in all matters and increase in me, efforts to fight a war against sin and I shall conquer, for Jesus is not overcome by sin”.
Doug Sparks in a letter in April 1978 says. “I landed in Kenya the day that Dawson Trotman, (founder of the navigators), died! The promises I was claiming were Isa 43: 1-13 and Gen 22:17,18.”
The emphasis of the Navigators was to try to recruit “Timothy” who would have the vision of spiritual reproduction on a man-to-man and small group basis. The Mau Mau detention camps were used as platform for evangelism and as a launching pad to recruit, train and multiply Kingdom laborers in Kenya.
Navigator presence was established when Missionaries Jim and Jeri White and several others moved to Kenya in 1968 and years following. This marked the beginning of student ministries, which has been the backbone of the Kenyan work in the past years. The first lot of Kenyan disciples began to join the labor force, and work spread from the schools and universities to the community where graduates were now working. The years following saw the work grow in scope and depth and the emergence of national leadership. One remarkable feature of the work has been a great crop of leaders who have led the work with wisdom and understanding and sacrificial courage and whom have been models of godly leadership transition, in sharp contrast to the world around. These men led leadership teams, each making a unique contribution to make the organization what it is today. They deserve our recognition.
Doug Sparks, 1956
Moe Shankle, 1956-1957
Ed Reis, 1957-1961
Bob Howarth, 1956-1963
David Steele, 1963-1965
Jim White, 1965-1973
Marvin Smith, 1974
|[table align=”right”] Name,Years
Noel Nelson, 1974-1977
Bruce Van Wyk, 1977-1986
Mutua Mahiaini, 1986-1995
Dennis Tongoi &~~
Nick Wanyoike, 1995-2000
Paul Kimani, 2000-2005
Stanley Mukolwe, 2006–2011
Stanley Mukolwe, 2011 term renewed for next 5 years.
Kenya Navigators, by God’s grace, has enjoyed the favor of God way beyond what we deserve. We are deeply grateful to God in honouring us with several firsts. Some of these include beginning of Navigator work in Africa 55 years ago, the first African Regional Director, Mutua Mahiaini, and the first African and first female International Vice- President, Esther Waruiru. We are further humbled by the fact that Mutua is now the second Kenyan to serve on the International Executive Team (IET). Is this something to be proud about? No, rather as something to glorify God about, and in humility, like a firstborn child, take up the awesome responsibility God seems to have placed on our shoulders.